“Sound it out” my Dad used to tell me as a kid when I had trouble figuring out how to say a new word. It frustrated me to no end. Why couldn’t he just tell me how to say it?
In hindsight, he taught me two very useful skills. Not just how to pronounce a new word, but to figure things out on my own.
At Toastmasters Evanston, we’re a very diverse club full of mostly new members to the Toastmasters program. We have many unique names that are not always easy to pronounce. And some of us have common names, but pronounce them differently than one would initially think. This often leads to a graveyard of butchered names by the end of a meeting.
With our names being one of the most intimate words we’ll ever use, it’s important for us to get others names right – whether in conversation or introducing a speaker.
This is an opportunity for all of us to grow. We can get in the habit of getting to know every new member, and as we do, making it a point to get the pronunciation of their first AND last name right.
It’s OK to ask someone to sound out their name for you – and even repeat it back to them to make sure you have it down. Just be careful about asking for answers when they’re ones you could figure out on your own.