Talking Tips

Do your teens come across as confident and educated?

The practice of good speech habits can improve your personal presentation. It is amazing how people will respond to you differently, take you more seriously and perceive you as smarter just because of the way you speak.

Here are a few common speech faux pas that can diminish the perception of how educated and capable your teens are.

Do they use words that don’t exist? There are many non-existent words that are used in formal forums such as: ‘irregardless’, the word is regardless, no ‘ir’ needed. Let me say, regardless of the fact some modern dictionaries have added this word, it is still not considered formal speech. ‘Pro-nun-ciation’ is the correct word, ‘pro-noun-ciation’ is not a word. When speaking to someone, you are having a conversation – you converse, not ‘conversate’. You are conversing not ‘conversating’. When it is time to be polished and proper, you want to know the difference.

Do they delete syllables? We all do it. The word probably morphs into ‘prob’ly’ and government becomes ‘gov’ment’. The place that houses books is a ‘li-brary’ not a ‘lib’ry’. The second month of the year is ‘Febru-ary’ not ‘Feb’ry’. The best day of the week is ‘Sat-ur-day’ not ‘Sat’dy’.

Do they have sloppy speech? You can get away with it in casual conversation, but when you are giving a speech, interviewing or on the radio, it stands out as sloppy speech. ‘Correc’ with a hard ‘c’ at the end is incorrect. It sounds so much more polished if you say correct, affect and protect.

Do they use incorrect tenses? Say is only for present tense. Said is for the past. “He say he did it.” is actually impossible.

Do they pronounce ‘er’? People actually sound more educated when they put the ‘ers’ at the end of their words. Better instead of ‘betta’, register instead of ‘regista’ and I like leather shoes better than ‘leatha’.

So why am I bringing this up? You see, the problem is when they begin to string all these faux pas together, they may fall short in representing themselves.

Can they confidently engage in a conversation with an adult like a teacher, principal, prospective employer or college scout? Or do they respond with one word or two words like “yes ma’am” or “no sir”. Notice the skills of child actors when being interviewed on a talk show. Those are skills that can benefit any young person.

Parents, you spend so much money educating your children but many times they still do not come across that way. Even if you did not spend money on private school, your child can still sound as if they are highly educated by incorporating the information above. If you would like your teen to get a good dose of self-awareness and tools to up-level their communication skills, I am hosting a communication workshop just for teens. Send an email for details.

• Kim Welcome is the chief executive officer and founder of Influential Voice. She assists businesses and professionals to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills to increase their impact and influence. Her clients range from the country’s largest and most prestigious employers to public figures and individual professionals. Feel free to contact her at

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