The importance of Diction.

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It was another great concert that was about to create a lasting memory in many people’s minds…the only sad thing about this concert is the fact that the focus was about to turn from the amazing sounding choir to the MC of the occasion.

As you know the MC’s job is to help with the introductions, connections and linkages between different aspects of the program. This requires someone that’s intelligent, witty, confident and well.  On this occasion, the MC had all these qualities.  While the MC did an amazing job for 95% of the program, there was a change of thought when he made a mistake misprouncing 1 single word.

While creating a linkage between 2 powerful songs, the MC (who is a pastor of a church) made an attempt to introduce the next song by talking about the importance moving from one phase in life to the next phase. While doing an amazing job of breaking down an important life principle into relatable analogies, the MC confidently told the entire audience to turn to the person sitting next to them and tell them to “shift.”

The concept sounded absolutely amazing….however there was only one problem though. For some weird reason the letter “F” forgot to find its way out of the pastor’s mouth.

So instead of saying SHIFT, the pastor told the entire audience to tell our neighbours to “S@%%”.


I was shocked to my bones and froze in my seat.  I couldn’t believe the “S” word had found its way into  a gospel concert! I’ll never forget the comment of the lady behind me.  She said “Oh no, I can’t believe he just said that.”

While sensing the reluctance of his audience to share his words of wisdom, the Pastor made another bold attempt that proved to almost get his church title revoked.  He looked straight into the crowd, orders us to look at our other neighbor and also tell them to “Shift.”

Once again, the speakers played a prank by eliminating the F word from what the pastor said.

At this point, the entire audience started laughing.

Looking completely shocked and confused, the pastor continued his analogy so as not to ruin the entire concert. “Shift from where you are to where God is calling you.”

It was finally at that point that everyone got to understand he wasn’t telling us to go use the bathroom but to actually take a leap of faith to move forward in life.  What an amazing experience!


What can we learn from this crazy story? Well the truth is that every single word counts.

The word diction means refers to your style of speaking, accent, inflection, intonation, and speech-sound quality.

Did you know that 1 word could be the difference between a great speech and losing the respect of half the audience.

1 word could be the difference between getting respect from the crowd and being viewed as incompetent.

1 word could be the difference between an uplifting experience and an unserious show.

The choice is yours.

I once made a blunder on radio by mispronouncing a local Yoruba word live on radio. After many attempts to memorize it before going on air, I forgot how to pronounce it and decided to take a guess.  The mistake proved to be fatal.

A caller called me live on radio and totally rebuked me for “forgetting my roots and not respecting my country.” He advised me to go “re-learn my language.” 1 word made me lose the respect of my avid listeners.

How do you improve your diction?

  1. Get an elocution coach: There are many out there who focus on helping you pronounce the words correctly.  Remember that every word counts.  If every word counts, then we need to spend time working on every single word.
  2. Know your audience and know how they speak: Remember the number 1 thing you strongly want is to connect with your audience.  How do they pronounce that word in their region? Where do you lay emphasis?  Many strongly believe the easiest thing to do is follow the British pronunciation for all words but I beg to differ.  Many places have different backgrounds and cultural mixes.  Understand your audience and mirror them.  It helps you connect better.  If you’re pushing to educate them, find a balance between teaching them the right words and speaking like them…intelligently.
  3. Check the dictionary: If you are unsure of a word, find out exactly how to spell it.  You can easily visit to get an update on exactly how to pronounce the word. Remember there are American pronunciations and British pronunciations.  Be careful to use the right one for the right audience.  I once had a friend use the West African pronunciation for “embarrass” in front of an American audience.  They spent about 2 minutes laughing and barely paid attention to the rest of his speech.
  4. If you don’t know, ask: Learn to be humble. If you don’t know how the word is pronounced (especially in the region you’re located) just ask someone.  Remember to ask someone that actually knows at to say it correctly.
  5. If all else fails, use a word you know: Why try to pronounce a word you simply don’t use in your everyday vocabulary? Get rid of it and use a word that you can easily pronounce.






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