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Speech Intelligence, Part 1

Speech Intelligence Analytics® proposes a construct for communication skills. Both formative learning and summative assessment. Further, we put forward a set of constituent behaviours, which we believe are highly relevant to today’s audiences:

  • Clarity of utterance;
  • Confident, yet authentic delivery;
  • Reasonable idea generation;
  • Balanced argumentation. 

Humans have classification systems for written communication. We are sophisticated in our objective analysis of grammatical correctness and readability. We have advanced learning systems to help support these codes.  Yet when it comes to spoken communication, there is no equivalent. Myths, bias and legend fill the void. 

Firstly, in place of any classification system, we’ve cherry-picked the most obvious of all communication events around which to hang our commentary. That of ‘public speaking’. A form of speech that has very little to do with how the majority of us communicate, and influence others, on a daily basis. A form of speech which quietly promotes implied authority. A form of speech that has been hijacked to suit the speaker and bias the listener. We don’t even notice it. Most frequently, the combined phenomena of script reading, memorised passages, and reputation bias. In seminars, gweek shows footage of suited politicians making speeches, seemingly knowing exactly what to say at every step and making ‘great eye contact’ all the while. Very few people are aware that a tele-prompter is in play. There are usually gasps of amazement as more forensic tracking of the speaker’s eye movements (to the left screen, to the right screen, back to the left screen) makes it plain for all to see.

Memorising what to say or reading from a screen is not a leadership skill.

gweek, the designer of Speech Intelligence Analytics®, argues that the domain of spoken communication skills learning is out-of-date, precisely because it has never been appropriately modelled. We’re not saying that we have the endgame. Yet we are prepared to start the debate, and we have been prepared to launch our own response to the challenge.

Too often the default thinking is: ‘one-off great public speech’ = ‘great public speaker’ = ‘great communicator’. And the reverse too. It’s just easier that way. 

It is 2019, over one hundred years since Dale Carnegie first popularised the artistic side of public speaking. It is time to re-balance, and bring the ‘debate’ back to how authentic communication skills are better for business, brand and reputation.

We are all Speech Intelligent. We just need to understand how to harness it, and comfortably extend it into all corners of our lives. We do not have to become ‘great public speakers’ anymore. It’s the wrong aspiration.

Your Speech Intelligence is your consistent ability to communicate with others. From one-on-one (discussion), in front of a few others (team meeting), and all the way up to large audiences. Frankly, you’re either communicating with your counter-parties or you’re not. It doesn’t matter what you call the event. 

You don’t need to learn a whole new set of skills for presenting, and then another for public speaking, or another for holding difficult conversations. This is an artificial set of delineations, which ignores the existence of core and common skills (many of them physiological) across any and all forms of communication.

One core tenet of Speech Intelligence is to establish the difference between ‘low context’ skilling and ‘high context’ application.

Low context skilling: e.g. your ability to naturally control your speech pacing;  your ability to maintain your true, conversational voice pitch.

High context application: e.g. managing challenging questions from a co-worker during a period of extreme change.

Many of us are unclear as to the benefits of using adequate pause gaps, and natural eye movement. Many of us can benefit from harnessing the ‘low context’ skills.

If you want to improve your ability to communicate (especially for the challenging ‘high context’ situations), focus first on the essential ‘low context’ skills and what they can achieve.

  1. The listener can follow you  e.g. appropriate speech pacing and accessible language 
  2. The listener is getting the real you e.g. natural voice pitch, eye movement and gestures

A study of Speech Intelligence will show you how 1. and 2. are actually co-dependent. 

Your Speech Intelligence will help shape the overall communication that you offer your listeners. In the way that ice hockey demands highly agile, coherent skating in order to allow the player freedom of movement; so your Speech Intelligence provides your core stability and agility as a communicator. Clarity, confidence, authenticity. Anywhere and every time. 

Public speaking should very much be encouraged, celebrated and enjoyed. Large audience speaking is the ultimate, although closer quarter situations can often be as challenging!

We just want to widen the conversation. To establish the most representative paradigm for one of the most critical skill sets of all.

This will empower young people to view communication skills as both achievable and highly empowering throughout life. 

Look out for further articles on Speech Intelligence. Please help us start the debate. Viva clear, authentic communication.


 – James Bryce

Learning Library

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