Strong accents are even more of a problem when you’re making a virtual presentation—in a conference call or a webinar—and your audience can’t see you.
That’s when accent reduction coaching can be helpful.
People sometimes ask me, knowing that I’m a speech coach, if I can help them reduce their accents. I can’t. But I can refer them to an accent reduction coach whom I trust: Laura Darius. (She’s based in San Diego, but she works with clients internationally.)
Because I have a lot of questions myself about accent reduction—what it is, why it matters, who can benefit from it—I interviewed Laura. Here’s what we talked about…
CW: It seems that everyone has an accent of some sort. How do you define an accent?
LD: Having an accent means you’re using the sounds and rhythm of your native language to speak another language.
For example, a French person can speak English with a French accent and an American person can speak French with an American accent.
People who are not born in the U.S. and learn English after the age of 9 will speak English using the native sounds and rhythm of their own language. Since their native sounds don’t match the sounds or rhythm of American English, there will be some lack of clarity when speaking English.
CW: Is there anything wrong with having an accent?
LD: An accent is only a problem if people misunderstand you or can’t understand you at all.