Is Olympic Presenter Alex Scott’s “Working Class” Accent An Issue?


By Freyja Westwood
August 3, 2021

With the Olympics comes hours and hours of commentating, and we salute these hard-working individuals who manage to communicate the journeys of our favourite athletes to us so beautifully, while we pretend to be experts in curling and diving from the comfort of our sofas. 

It's not easy though - being a presenter means taking criticism from the world and his wife, as we found this weekend when ex-parliamentary minister Lord Digby Jones criticised Alex Scott's East End accent, saying that it was spoiling the Olympics coverage and that she should have elocution lessons.

Scott, a highly successful BBC Olympics commentator and footballer with an MBE, said she is proud of her accent.

So, who is right here?

Being a commentator is no easy feat. So often overlooked by us, but their communication skills are really incredible. Their job is to convey each important detail of the sporting event with accuracy, passion and eloquence. 

So why did the ex-parliamentary minister comment on Alex Scott's "very noticeable inability to pronounce her 'g's at the end of a word." ?

What has been overlooked here, and what we need to remember, regardless of whether someone pronounces their g's and t's, is whether or not they are an empowered and effective communicator. Pronunciation isn't everything. Many people have perfect neutral spoken English accents and yet they are awful communicators. And those with strong regional accents can be great communicators alike. 

If someone feels disempowered by the way they speak, either because of how they want to sound or how they want to come across, fit in and adjust to different situations or how they feel others respond to them, then there is work that can be done. In fact, dropping g's and t's is exactly the kind of thing that can be worked on in elocution lessons.

If however, Scott is happy and empowered (which we think she is!) and is delivering her message with the impact she intended, then there really is no issue! Following Lord Digby's criticism, Scott hit back this weekend:

“I'm proud of the young girl who overcame obstacles, and proud of my accent! It’s me, it’s my journey, my grit." - Alex Scott

In reality, there is no right or wrong - people have different opinions (linguistic genius Stephen Fry was appalled at Digby's comments, calling it "misplaced snobbery"). There is no presenter rule book that says to be a good presenter you have to pronounce every word correctly. Nor is there a need for anyone to speak in any position of power or influence, with perfect pronunciation. It’s about so much more than that – what we value is energy, connection and engagement. If you thrill and delight and connect and inspire your listeners, then quite frankly, speak in any accent. It’s always going to be better to inspire with an accent than bore with a perfectly neutral one.

Scott clearly has bucket loads of confidence, energy and personality and is proud of her accent. She delivers her message with impact and builds a connection with her audience.

While we're on that subject, we loved Helen Glover's beautiful message following the rowing final last week - she truly speaks from the heart and her excitement and passion is contagious: 

What we do need to say is that, like it or not, the way we speak will open doors and close others, so what is important is to do whatever you need to do to feel empowered. Whether that’s taking Elocution Lessons, an Effective Communication course, accent softening or simply giving yourself permission to sound exactly as you sound.

The most important thing is to enable people to be the best communicators they can be, and that's exactly what we do. We can help you to find the power within your voice...

Do you want to use your voice more powerfully? Do you want to command attention when you speak? 

Click here to learn more about our 1:1 coaching.

If this sounds interesting, why not Book a Free 15-Minute Discovery Call today and get started?

 

📸Photo by James Boyes

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