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Pronouncing the world’s most difficult word

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in Business Etiquette,Workplace Communication

Earlier this month, weatherman Liam Dutton’s spot-on pronunciation of a Welsh village’s name went viral, and with good reason. After all, the 58-letter name, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, is more than a mouthful. His masterful pronunciation certainly makes Dutton our Best Communicator of the Month.

It would have been easy for him to abbreviate the word, botch it and make a joke about it, or simply point and skip saying it altogether. Instead, he tackled the task head-on and nailed it. That proved his skills as a public speaker and showed tremendous respect for the town and its people.

Follow Dutton’s lead and take the time to ensure that you nail the correct pronunciation of people’s names and their towns, cities or countries. Follow these tips:

  • Ask people to say their names first. If you are unsure about how to pronounce a name, politely say, “I don’t want to mispronounce your name/location. Would you please say it for me?”
  • Include phonetic spellings with contact information. In your meeting notes, sales database or contact files, add the phonetic spellings of tricky names to ensure you get the names right.
  • Use technology. Websites, such as PronounceNames.com, Inogolo.com and TheNameEngine.com allow you to search various names and then listen to the correct pronunciation.
  • Take your time. When you do have to say a particularly challenging name, take a deep breath, focus and let the syllables flow off your tongue. If you rush, you increase your chances of messing up.

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