A client recently asked me if I critiqued people’s English when they spoke. While that’s the case with everything I read (which is probably why I get all of my news from The Economist and The New Yorker—they are well written and rarely have a distracting grammatical mistake), when listening I tend to only pick-up horrific gaffes.
Maybe my ears aren’t as critical as my eyes is because my speaking skills lag behind my writing and editing abilities.
I often talk like I write: I start a sentence, think of a better beginning mid-stream, and then start the sentence over. Hence listeners sometimes hear 1.5 sentences—and a confused look.
To rectify this problem, I joined the Global Links chapter of Toastmasters. It meets semi-monthly at the World Bank headquarters. My first speech is at the next meeting (a four to six minute bio sketch), although last week I gave the “word of the day” (one of my favorites, behoove).
The club is a mix of new and old members, some of who are not native English speakers–it’s impressive to hear them deliver a speech. Many of the members work in the development field as well, but there is a good mix of careers.
If you’re looking to hone your speaking skills, I’d suggest joining a club in your area.