How Elocution Lessons Unlock the Next Level in Speaking Confidence at Work
Discover the benefits of elocution lessons for your career and professional development, especially if you’re interested in leadership roles.
When it comes to professional speaking success, most of us want to feel confident in ourselves and what we’re saying… especially at work.
And there’s nothing like hesitations, mumbling, a wavery voice or even problems ordering our thoughts to sabotage our confidence.
Unfortunately, there’s no Heimlich manoeuvre when we choke up and muddle our way through the next sentence. At that point, your ability to recover poise comes down to more of the internal self-regulation work you did before the moment.
Old-fashioned elocution methods, as seen in films like Pygmalion, My Fair Lady and even moments of the King’s Speech, suggest that enunciating in the room with a speech expert is the cure for all speaking pressure points.
But what does the research say?
Does elocution have a place these days, or is it an archaic approach that should stay in our favourite old movies as a distant, irrelevant method?
Well, it depends!
If you search for “elocution lessons near me” or even “elocution lessons in Melbourne or Sydney”, you’ll find various business owners working in this space with vastly different expertise.
This article is designed to give you an overview of your options regarding elocution lessons and provide some background so that you can make an informed decision and invest your time and funds appropriately to get the best outcomes!
This blog post is best digested in 3 parts:
- Check the tips for summarised below
- Sign up for the free audio training: 5 Levers to Pull if no one recognises your leadership potential
- If you’d like to commence elocution lessons at Sara Geiger International, there are 2 ways to work with me: 1-1 Executive Communication Consultations for CEOs and top tier executives and The C-suite an online comprehensive career communication course for emerging leaders. Both pathways commence with the high-performance communication audit, which will assess your professional communication using modern elocution methods. Learn more here.
What are Elocution Lessons?
Elocution: the skill of clear and expressive speech, especially of distinct pronunciation and articulation. "lessons in singing and elocution"
You can still find antiquated elocution trainers who’ll tell you to stick marbles in your mouth, speak with a cork between your teeth, or give you “mechanical” tongue exercises and tongue twisters for clarity (they don’t work, don’t waste your time).
And then there is a new world of modern elocution research at the forefront of corporate communication research papers, which is something that Sara Geiger International stays up to date with. Modern elocution training methods should also link research directly to industry practice and can be hard to find. If you’re looking for a communication consultant to provide you with elocution lessons, ask about their academic qualifications as much as their experience in the field and gauge whether they are a quack or an academic, ethically-minded expert who stays up to date.
If you want to speak adroitly, I suggest you go for modern elocution lessons. Keep reading to learn more about what to look for so you can narrow down the best option for your financial and time investment.
How are elocution lessons usually delivered?
If you’re searching for elocution lessons, you’ll find a mix of options: online self-paced programs, face-to-face and online consultations, and even speaking intensives like boot camps.
1-1 sessions (in person or online)
Traditional old-school elocution lessons tend to involve you meeting with your trainer, usually for a 45-minute – hour in session.
Elocution lessons usually run during business hours, so this approach can be challenging for busy career professionals to commit to and gain momentum with.
Most career professionals would need up to 30 sessions to get solid outcomes that position speaking at an elite level, as a large body of techniques and strategies would need to be addressed before you start seeing change.
Like any industry, you can find speaking consultants who are highly qualified to practice in this space with advanced post-graduate qualifications in speech science and even performance or self-proclaimed experts with no formal training to their name offering opinion-based approaches that don’t necessarily stack up. Working with an elite speaking consultant with the cred and qualifications can get quite expensive, so this is usually the premium method, best suited for individuals with the budget and availability to attend diligently and who want to learn proven rigorous approaches.
🔗 Check this tips guide on How to choose the best Communication Consultant to develop your Speaking Skills.
Online self-paced programs
Don’t overlook this option! If you’re looking for training with a highly qualified expert, accessing the best in the business will undoubtedly come at a premium price. However, this is where online self-paced programs can make the learning material very accessible for your financials as well as schedule.
What kind of program should you look for if you want to take elocution lessons?
Outcomes from your elocution lessons will be determined from more than just the delivery method.
Speech and communication skills training don’t need to be 1-1 to achieve the most effective outcomes.
What will predict a good outcome for your speaking skills if you sign up for elocution lessons?
Don’t get distracted by the mode of delivery alone. Choosing elocution lessons that work doesn’t just come down to whether face-to-face sessions or 1-1. Instead, it’s best to be attentive to the outcomes you need that will result in changed professional communication and select the program based on how it addresses these outcomes.
Here’s a summary of the top factors that can make elocution lessons worth it for your pocket and time.
The quality of the instructor
Does the consultant have a finger on the most efficient methods to train speaking change, endorsed by research, not some fluffy opinion?
Elocution trainers can range from unqualified to expert and everything in between. Choose carefully! Applying incorrect advice for your career communication is risky for your professional reputation at work.
The quality of the instruction
Is the curriculum thorough and based on research into career communication so that recommendations pass the litmus test and are likely to get profound changes for you? Do the course materials train communication techniques and give you methods to transfer your new skills into your daily life?
Gaining advanced speaking skills will take time to happen. Longitudinal focus is more likely to deliver the career-changing outcomes you’re going for. While you could attend 30 face-to-face sessions to get the optimal changes you’re anticipating, it will be costly, so a solid and thorough online program can be the most cost-effective approach to consider.
How holistic the elocution lessons are
Learning Elite speaking skills is behavioural, mechanical, and intellectual. It can be challenging for a consultant to provide all the background detail and self-regulation training you need to speak with poise and polish, especially since communication can be wildly unpredictable. Therefore, it’s better to learn the theory and application of communication science to build your analysis skills of the best interaction approach to take.
Here, you want to train your brain to predict ▶️ analyse ▶️ trial ▶️evaluate ▶️adapt with the same methodology as a communication scientist.
Does the program develop independence, accountability and self-reliance as a communicator?
Just like your general practitioner can’t be by your side every meal giving you recommendations about what to eat next and motivating you each day to go for a jog for your heart health, nor can your executive speaking consultant. Good health outcomes come from developing independent motivation, accountability and self-reliance to commit to health change, and the same can be said for speaking skills. Since speaking is interactive, it’s easy to assume that you can only improve it if you’re sitting with a consultant at hand telling you what to say, but you’d be better off seeing communication skills growth as a learning area that is more like a university study program than a 45-minute pep talk weekly. Physical therapy is training for your muscles, and speech-based therapy and elocution lessons are training for your brain, so naturally, many methods require a study-based approach to get outcomes. This is the advantage of online courses because they provide the space and time to swat up new techniques and skills. If the curriculum is well built, an online course can show you how to simulate speaking exercises by yourself and guide your daily practice drills.
Regular practice is integral to mastery. 1-1 consultations do not tend to build best practice methods because clients see the elocution trainer as the predictor of their outcomes, rather than their own application and dedication to the new speaking techniques which is the most powerful outcome indicator.
Communication agility and social intelligence involves knowing the best way to respond aptly without consulting another person’s opinion on how you should behave. Therefore, a thorough and effective elocution program will provide as much training in how to use your voice and words balanced with building your analytical skills so that you can study and understand the social dynamic and determine the best rule of play to benefit the relationship and your professional reputation.
What’s the best method for elocution lessons if you’re an emerging leader?
For over a decade I’ve been delivering 1-1 consultations for CEOs and top tier executives as well as emerging leaders. As the executive workload has expanded, and my skills have reached expert level, I started to get additional requests from career professionals who had not yet lined up their ducks to win a leadership position at a rate that I personally can not fit into my schedule.
I started to ask myself questions like how can I train emerging leaders with the key communication skills they need to reposition their impression management at work while still making my premium services and expert skills accessible financially?
I could see that the 1-1 consultation sessions are but the tip of the iceberg we needed to clear to allow smooth passage and optimal speaking at work for an emerging leader. This model is better suited to established leaders who have the extensive foundations in place.
So I started reading the research around better methods to train speaking skills and realised that while 1-1 sessions have their place, they’re not enough to cut it beyond basic communication triage at the early stages of communication growth. Small tricks work wonders, but how could I cover all the things my emerging leaders needed more effectively, especially with the increase in interpersonal pressure and speaking malaise I noticed unraveling due to recent world events that drastically changed how we work?
To build the true elite communication success I knew was possible for a client, I calculated that we’d need roughly 30 sessions to cover the necessary curriculum. That translates to $18,000 per client at my executive consulting rate commensurate with my skill, experience, qualifications and in demand schedule. It simply wasn’t accessible for a mid career professional and didn’t solve the other barrier I noticed to achieving maximal goals from a consulting model for speech improvement.
You can only go so far with a 1-1 consultation model if you’re an emerging leader. For clients to get the tools they needed to show up at work with the confidence for challenging, intimidating and career-defining conversations, they needed access to an integrated learning system that trains the proven elements for personal impression management and there has to be a more cost effective and reasonable way to do this.
Clients were arriving to sessions with an incredibly complex range of conversations that were causing not only increased discomfort but also professional risks. Knowing how rapidly our status at work can shift if we don’t have the tools to set boundaries with micro-aggressions, unrealistic expectations or impossible workloads, I was meeting clients who constantly said, “I wish I could have had a session before I had that difficult conversation.”
Speaking well and leading well at work are not the outcome of what you do in that definite moment. Instead, they are the result of thought-based internal self-regulation systems that you implement to prepare you for every situation, conversation and human interaction you need to excel with.
I saw the system right before my eyes, so in June 2021, I shut my calendar after completing everyone’s elocution programs. I then buried myself in my office to complete my PhD thesis in 2 months to finally get into my passion project to create an integrated, science-based modern elocution program and the C-Suite project began.
I dedicated hours of reading to current research on speech science and career communication, almost crashing my already monolithic Endnote. This exciting and life changing program will provide you with the swiss army knife your difficult professional conversations need.
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About the Author
Sara Geiger is a Keynote Speaker, Executive Speaking Coach, and Opera Singer who likes to play with words, sounds, and your impact.
Her academic background is in Music Performance, Communication Science and Speech & Language Pathology. She’s currently completing a PhD in Opera Performance in Europe while assisting executive communication clients all over the world as a consultant.
Connect with Sara on LinkedIn.
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