You show up to work on time or early every day. You are always dressed professionally, with necktie and socks coordination that no one could fault. You offer a firm handshake and remember names better than anyone else in your office. You offer great ideas to improve the company and make it more profitable. But, have you thought about the fact that the way you talk could, you know, hold you back in your career?
A recent career advice column on the CNN Money website addressed how casual speech patterns and a lack of confidence in your tone can be hurting your ability to get ahead. The author, Anne Fisher, references “Valleyspeak,” which consists of countless “like” and “you know” inserts into sentences, as well as an inflection known as “up-talk” that makes every sentence sound like a question. This is going to be a distraction to clients, bosses, and other possible connections in your field, as the great thoughts that you may have are lost in imprecise and immature language.
It’s not just, like, the filler words that, ummm, get in the way of communicating effectively. You may have other characteristics of your speech that do not result in great confidence in your knowledge or ability. Luckily, Fisher offers some suggestions of ways to make sure that the way you talk is not giving a negative first impression. She recommends asking for some honest feedback from people you trust, joining a speaking group like Toastmasters, and watching speeches given by people you admire, among other ideas.
Are there specific aspects of a person’s speech that can lead you to form an unfavorable opinion upon your first meeting?
Who would you recommend professionals watch give a speech as a way of learning about effective oral communication? Who out there today is a powerful speaker who others should be modeling?