Speech & Elocution Coaching
HENLEY-ON-THAMES ~ OXFORDSHIRE
Improve vocal clarity
Improve pronunciation & articulation
Modify or soften an accent
Overcome stammer and other speech difficulties
Improve vocal impact and confidence
Care for and maintain a healthy voice
What is elocution (really)?
Elocution means different things to different people – and not all of them helpful! You might have images of Eliza Doolittle, or the BBC English of Harry Enfield’s Mr Cholmondley Warner, but that’s not what it’s really about.
Elocution is simply the skill of clear and expressive speech. It comes from the latin eloqui, which just means ‘speak out’, and which is also the root of our word ‘eloquence’.
Far from being outdated then, in our modern world where our personal impact and ability to communicate are increasingly important, more and more people are recognising that this skill of clear and expressive speech is essential in their everyday lives.
A recent study reported in The Independent showed a significant increase in the number of people seeking help with their elocution, so you are by no means alone if you have similar concerns. The most common reasons cited include a lack of confidence in their voices, fear of speaking in public, dissatisfaction with accents and difficulties finding a job or progressing in their career.
How can elocution lessons help you?
Vocal clarity, strength, expression & confidence
Many of those seeking help with elocution are business managers and professionals, including company directors, doctors, lawyers, teachers, even ministers of religion, wishing to learn how to use their voice and words to communicate better.
Others include students and recent graduates looking for their first step on to the career ladder, and parents looking to help their older children prepare for oral presentations and university interviews.
The current state of the job market appears to be fuelling this demand as people fear they are being hindered in their search for jobs or held back in their careers because of the way they speak.
Stammers & other speech difficulties
I am not a speech therapist and my methods are different, but I have worked with many adults who have particular difficulties to improve their speech. This includes looking at how to slow down speech, to control breathing and the way you form words.
These may not entirely get rid of a stammer but do reduce its impact, softening the sound of the difficulty, reducing its frequency and aiming to give you a feeling of greater control over your speaking which, in turn, reduces the anxiety that can exacerbate the problem.
Accent softening & modification, pronunciation & articulation
In this exceptionally competitive world, there also seems to be an increase in people looking to ‘soften’ an accent in an attempt to improve their career prospects. This is a difficult issue. I would not wish us all to speak the same, and certainly not to be turning out a brigade of Mr Cholmondley Warners! But this desire does illustrate the undoubted importance of clarity of communication and the use of ‘proper English’ in order the ‘get on in life’. It enables us to be more easily understood and to be taken seriously in the job market, as well as in education and our personal relationships.
I don’t think that ‘proper English’ and regional accents are mutually exclusive, but I do think that if you have concerns, some softening and modification of particular sounds and ‘quirks’ can be helpful – and sometimes essential – particularly where bad habits and laziness have crept in! We can work on your particular concerns to achieve improvement that remains natural.
Elocution lessons are for anyone who wants to improve the clarity and expression of their speech and develop confidence in being properly understood.
If that includes you, I can help.
What happens in an elocution lesson
I will work with you to identify your problem areas and guide you through new or modified ways of speaking, with exercises and discussion and some hands-on guidance.
We will work through exercises for you to repeat and practise. The aim is that the stronger and clearer speech you are learning will become natural to you over time and become part of your daily speaking.
As the Alexander Technique creates the conditions for improved use of your speaking voice, I tend to incorporate some Alexander work into each (adult) lesson.
Lessons are always individual, one-to-one, so that I can give you complete personal attention, working on your particular needs and adapting as these change. Adult lessons are usually one hour; lessons for young people are usually shorter.
Appointments & Fees
Private Speech & Elocution Lessons
1 hour : £60.00
Appointments are available Monday to Friday.
Some early evening and Saturday appointments can be made.