Say what you mean

It is so very rare we manage to say what we mean. Those of us capable of accomplishing the feat are quoted in those snappy answer books.

But one St. Albert resident believes just a little practice can turn a tongue-tied person into a well-spoken individual.

Barbara May, a local communications coach, sounds as though she's reciting the plot line from Educating Rita. Give her people who consistently trip over their tongues of talk in circles for a half-hour before getting to the point and she'll whip them into pretty decent orators.

These days, May said, people just don't have time to listen to someone drone on and on.

"In the past, people may have been able to put up with rambling. People were so much in touch with the spoke word. But today we're just too swamped with images. We only see the 30 second clip." May said.

"So people need to communicate their ideas very quickly."

That doesn't mean we should all be reduced to jabbering fools who spout off fashionable buzzwords to cover for meaningful conversation.

A Changing art

May said the art of conversation hasn't died, it's just changed. She cites the classroom as a good laboratory to show how messages are sent and received.

"If teachers want their students to listen to them, they have to realize they are not only educating the students but also entertaining them," she said.

"They may not like that but they are competing with the likes of Nintendo and the video world."

Children learn to parrot phrases they hear on television before they learn to read. Teachers and anyone making a presentation to a group of people need to be aware of this fact.

A lot of people who are making a presentation or a sales pitch or who are going to emcee a weeding write down their idea. It all sounds very canned and staged and unnatural," she said.

In too many cases people don't get to the point quickly enough. If you're talking about coffee, for example, May advises against talking about sugar, creamers and stir sticks.