Another essential skill for successful speakers is using the correct form of the language. Being limited to English, I can’t say what equivalent errors might exist in other languages. However, nothing can destroy your credibility as a speaker than the misuse of the language. Toastmasters International highlights the importance of correct language by appointing a Grammarian to listen to everyone’s word usage and report on language used during the course of a meeting.
Rather than try and provide detailed information for all types of language land mines, here are links to resources, which can help you improved your language skills:
- Improve your diction. How you pronounce words will affect the way an audience perceives your credibility as a speaker. Here is a list of the 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English.
- Improve your grammar. Many people feel grammar is a secondary issue of little importance. The rise of text messaging has destroyed written grammar and syntax. Grammar is important for conveying information in a way that can be understood and not misunderstood. The Online English Grammar gives you access to English language learning and resource services.
- Improve your usage. There are many words in the English language that are so much alike speakers often mistake one for another. Perhaps the most exhaustive resource on usage is Paul Brians’ site, Common Errors in English.
- Avoid technical language. Unless of course, you’re speaking to a technical audience. Just because you understand the jargon and terms you’re using, doesn’t mean your audience will. Adjust your speech appropriately.
- Words to look out for:
- Fad words – bottom line, time frame, viable…
- Extra words – naturally, actually, frankly, so to speak…
- Slang – fresh, dis, Fo’ shizzle, Homey… hip hop examples, but they exist in all social groups.
- Words ending in wise – healthwise, moneywise, timewise…
- Degrading words – slang terms for different nationalities.
Say just what you want to say in words that everyone will understand the same way. Murphy’s Law of Communication, “If people can misunderstand you, they will misunderstand you.”