Oluwabukola Agbalaya: With the right information, you will break down borders
Not all elocutionists can seamlessly change the gears of your speaking skills. But this is the main part of Olubukola Rukayat Agbalaya, The Queen of Diction. It differentiates itself through its expertise combined with its ability to enter your mind before your head. She is the founder of Fluent Speech Educational Consult, a speaking and reading organization that helps professionals and individuals develop their speaking and reading skills. Olubukola has written four books, ranging from worksheets to teacher’s guide. His latest book, Speak It Right, is an audiobook. She has trained hundreds of professionals online and offline. In addition to being an elocutionist, she is an audiobook narrator and specialist in reading and learning. She enjoys helping children and adults with reading difficulties become fluent in the space of a few months. In this interview with Oyinlola Sale, she explains how she became the queen of diction
You are called the queen of diction, because of your excellent performance as an elocutionist in Nigeria, how did you get here?
As the first child in a family of six, I learned early enough that I would have nothing on a set. I knew I had to prove myself. So the name “Diction Queen” comes from years of hard work, consistency and discipline. I worked for her and still work to keep her. It is difficult to be an elocutionist in this part of the world, and I have been given a thousand and one reasons why I will not be successful as an elocutionist. The fact that our people are hiding under the mediocrity that English is not the language of our fathers is an excuse to stop funding the dream. But I know what I wanted and I am determined to make it happen.
What impact has your Fluent Speech Educational Consult business had in the education sector?
In the education sector, it is evident that there is a yawning gap between the pronunciation of English and other aspects of the language. At Fluent Speech, English diction is one of our pillars. Our job is to bridge the gap between distinct English pronunciation and poor pronunciation. We are committed to helping executives, professionals, individuals and children improve their spoken English. We help speakers become fine, powerful and eloquent speakers. We’ve even been able to help over 10,000 executives, professionals and young children improve their spoken English, public speaking skills and balance.
We are also taking literacy intervention classes for children and adults, and the result has been satisfying and fulfilling.
Over the years you’ve written four books, but the most recent is Speak It Right, tell us about that?
Speak ITRight audiobook is a bestselling author. The audiobook was created to help anyone who wants to learn the correct pronunciation of words in a convenient and simplified way. The audiobook contains over two hundred (200) commonly mispronounced English words.
They have been compiled in alphabetical order to make it easier for you to search, study, and pronounce correctly. It also contains tips to help you speak correctly. Each word is transcribed using the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) and includes a simple explanation of the word in secular language. An audio CD is attached which is a pronunciation guide for all of the highlighted words in the booklet. The audiobook has sold over 1,500 copies in Nigeria and abroad. An electronic copy is also available.
You are also an Audiobook Narrator, how do you verbally infuse your emotions?
The secret is that I understand that speaking words with the right emotions is the ultimate way to reach people. I have finely honed skills to figure out where to apply emotion or approach the story I am telling or the character I inhabit. I understand that reading words with clear diction is not enough, so when it’s time to add emotion, I make sure to add it authentically.
Illiteracy in this part of the world is a major problem, what has your organization done to address it?
Fighting illiteracy is not a walk in the park. In truth, illiteracy is a problem that strikes all communities, even the most educated countries. At Fluent Speech Educational Consult, we promote online and offline literacy through our seminars, trainings, workshops, conferences and contests and corporate social responsibility. We create supports for schools, individuals and organizations – which has proven to improve the status quo. A few months ago, our CSR was at the AOCOED international school to influence learners’ speaking and reading skills. Interestingly, our goals were met and the impact was good.
What did it take for you to become a TEDx Trained Speaker?
It took me a long time, but most of all, my love for sharing ideas, as the TEDx tagline said – ideas are worth sharing. It made me find out how to become one. The truth is, information is powerful. When you have the right information, you will break boundaries. I looked for the information, I acted and I did it… “A TEDx Trained Speaker”. I look forward to the opportunity to be a speaker at a TEDx conference soon.
What are some of the challenges that you have encountered along the line in this business?
I have faced many challenges that sometimes make me feel tired, frustrated and sick. One of those challenges is dealing with those people who hide under the mediocrity that the English language is not the language of our fathers, even when English is unanimously made the official language of the nation.
What is your growth projection for Fluent Speech Educational Consult over the next 5 years?
Fluent Speech Educational Consult is an organization founded on the direction of God. At Fluent Speech, we work with top executives, professionals, organizations, schools and individuals. Over the next five years, we aim to be one of the best speaking, public speaking and reading intervention academies in Nigeria.