Five tips to give your teen a competitive edge

Practicing 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.

Unfortunately, no matter how smart you are, if you fail to come across that way, you risk being diminished or dismissed.

Here are a few tips that can help your teen distinguish themselves.

Tip #1. Encourage them to read books. Reading not only expands the mind, it helps to improve speech by increasing vocabulary and pronunciation. Many times, mispronounced words are a result of only hearing words. When we read, we see how words are spelled and used, which helps us to speak better.

Just think, how many words and phrases are commonly mispronounced because we hear it incorrectly. For example, affidavit is the word, not after David; and there is no such word as conversate, the word is converse. Reading is fundamental.

Tip # 2. Remind them to pronounce each syllable in every word. Do they delete syllables? We all do it. The word “probably” morphs into prob’ly, “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 Saturday, not Sat’dy. Taking time to enunciate helps you to sound conscientious.

Tip #3. Simply putting the endings on their words can help them to sound polished. 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. Correct with a hard ‘c’ at the end is incorrect. Adding that ‘t’ at the end helps to separate your words and adds clarity to your speech.

Tip #4. Practice engaging them in conversation. Encourage them to express their ideas and opinions so they are used to articulating their thoughts. These discussions should require them to use their best speech, using the tips above.

Tip #5. Teach them to engage with adults. “Yes ma’am” and “no sir” are not enough. Young people who learn to have a conversation with adults distinguish themselves and are more apt to get opportunities.

Many parents spend a lot of money educating their children, but sometimes they still do not come across that way. Private school is not necessary to sound well educated.

If you would like your teen girl to get a good dose of self-awareness and tools to up level their communication skills, I am hosting a communication and leadership camp from June 20-22. Send an email for more info.

• Kim Welcome is the country’s leading communication trainer/coach/speaker. She is the go-to for top-tier organizations looking to transform the soft skills of their client-facing and leadership teams. With 15-plus years as a consultant, she also coaches individual professionals who want to strengthen their personal brand, increase visibility and advance their careers. She draws from her BA in communications, professional background in marketing and sales, training as a voice actor and experience as a singer to help her clients to communicate skillfully, intentionally and effectively. Contact her to inquire about working with you or your team at info@influentialvoice.com 242-436-3385.

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