If you can’t fix it, feature it. From the first syllable you utter, the tone, timbre or twang of your voice conveys who you are. As you continue to speak, your history and your use of vocabulary create an outline of your cultural character in your audience’s mind. Honoring your history, utilizing clear vocabulary and featuring your unique accent will result in accentuated communication.
“I’m sorry” is rarely an effective way to begin a presentation, especially if you are apologizing for your accent or command of a language. Sure there are ways to reduce, if not eliminate, your accent but if what you say is insignificant, no matter how well you say it, will not be meaningful. Concentrate on saying something of value and consider your accent as a gift to your audience. You may be surprised how many are charmed, not challenged, by your accent.
Most of us use only about 400 different words each day. The Oxford English Dictionary lists 616,500 words. It is doubtful that you know them all and it is even more improbable that you will ever use them all. You should strive for a rich and robust vocabulary because it will enrich your mind; however, when speaking publicly, clear and concise words work best. A small vocabulary promotes, if not forces, clarity.
Who you are is a living mixture of your history and your potential. When your accent touches your audience’s ear, it is tinged with your parents voice, it echoes the communities which have nurtured you, and calls out the culture which encompasses your national identity. You may have noticed how your speech shifts when you spend some time in different regions of the world. There is an innate desire to fit in by mimicking each other; however, it is through honoring what makes you unique which allows you to speak authentically.
May the gift of your accent become a fixed feature in the heart of your audience.