Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Can I be a public thpeaker if I lithp?

I have from time to time, coached clients with speech disfluencies. 'This is good!' you say? 'Well, maybe' I say. Some of these people have been unaware of their mispronunciations, and some have been aware, but didn't care. Their problems ranged from a pretty pronounced lisp, to habitually transposing sounds - saying 'd' or 'v' instead of 'th' for example. It's a sensitive issue to raise with someone - but having done so, I found these clients did not want to do anything about the disfluency.

To me as an oral presentations coach, this was surprising. After all, my job is to bring clarity to their communications. But for the client it was beside the point. They wanted to work on all the other stuff - what to say and how to say it, but the disfluency was staying.

I accept that this is a cultural construct, but if a person wants to develop their professional presence, I want to know how they can do that if they lisp, or say 'v' not 't'? Rightly or wrongly, in this culture, those sounds say 'baby talk'. To be serious about sounding professional (ie mature, intelligent, capable) they need to be reduced, or better still, overcome. I have an associate who is a speech pathologist and I refer people on - but only if they agree to it. Am I old fashioned?

1 comment:

  1. Surprising but is it age related? ie the older the less likely to care? The late Sir Robert Helpmann of Australian Ballet fame took up dancing to help with Polio (seems to have worked) and numerous champion swimmers got in the pool to help with Asthma so I would have thought public speaking would be just the practice those with speech impediments need. But yes, they need to see a speech pathologist to get the 'fix' right!