Have a Vietnamese guy on my team. Smart and hardworking, and looking to advance. His biggest obstacle is presentation and communication skills; his accent is thick and he speaks very fast. How would you approach the conversation around improving his communication style?

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Call out tactical things he can do that are not cultural - for example, you could frame it around how he can take on more of a discussion-oriented lens to the conversation by doing XYZ (speaking slower, pausing and actually inviting individuals for feedback) that can help him get richer insights from the clients / team. Share candidly how this was stuff you worked on after getting feedback yourself on improving executive presence and elevating client communication as well


Yeah, same here and completely agree! I think the important part is making sure that he knows you’re looking out for him and trying to help him improve outside of the accent limitations - calling that out is where it gets problematic. The above advice is what I’d give anyone on my team, accent or not. I would think his adopting those principles would also help everyone listening to him to better understand him with the accent.


Viet in the house. What worked for me is to adopt a slow sing songy cadence to my presentation. For some reason, people more easily track with my train of thought. As I've evolved over the years, my tempo is now slow and southern-like. As a result, I've connected with more people.


Give him the direct feedback and offer to help him practice his elocution. I’ve done that before and it’s received very well. They know they have an accent and they are happy that you care enough to help him improve his communication skills.


Speak slowly! I have a pretty standard american accent when I'm speaking casually but being nervous in front of a crowd messes with my english a bit. Someone advised me to slow down and it's probably been (a simple and cliche but) the most practical advise. It might sound too slow to him at first but encourage him to record himself and listen for comparison - helps to think of better words/phrases and be more elegant.


As for approaching him on this topic, why not be open and direct? Folks who are hardworking and willing to advance are generally open to constructive feedback 🙂

Accent is going to be a difficult issue to bring up for fear of being labeled racist (if he brings it up himself then it’s a different question). However, you can focus on the other areas and his overall presentation should improve. I have heard of some big 4 groups sponsoring communications or English classes for those looking to resolve these issues


That is tough and I struggle with communicating this as well. Have team members who speak very fast and have an accent.

Ultimately they need to speak clearly and slower. I think just speaking slower would help. It's hard to get rid of accent though

How is his level of confidence when presenting? For example, does he speak very fast because he is cocky or because he is nervous?

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