How often have you re-played your phone message to write down the number, or catch someone’s name, simply because you could not figure out what word or number they were speaking? It’s most annoying to listen to and very time-consuming to have to replay; most people give up and hang up. If you want to reach your customer, client, business prospect, via phone; or if you are a trainer using teleconferencing, video, or podcasting – then be sure you are speaking clearly.
Here are the 3 key tips to improve your diction:
Tip # 1 is to open your mouth wider to let the sound out.
Try opening your mouth at least a half inch wide so the sound is resonated in the chest and oral cavity and allowed to exit through the mouth. If the lips are barely open the sound is blocked by both lips and teeth. Exercise your jaw loosely from side to side, and up and down to unlock the tight opening. Practice reading a line from a newspaper by exaggerating your mouth opening stretching it wider for each word. You can check how wide your mouth is open by placing your thumb sideways between your teeth. Check this width during your practice to determine if you are maintaining the wider opening, or if your jaw got lazy and reverted to a closed mouth.
Tip #2 is to practice tongue twisters that are the most difficult for you to do.
If you have difficulty with a particular tongue twister, such as, “The wagon wobbled wildly and widely” or “Smith’s crisps” then these are the ones that you need to rehearse so you can get better. Tongue twisters are really tongue push-ups as they exercise the tongue muscle. Tongue twisters also exercise your lips, teeth, and soft palate. If you do not exercise these speech muscles then they become lazy resulting in slovenly speech that is not clear.
Tip # 3 is to slow down when you are speaking.
There is no reason for you to speed through your everyday conversation as if you were in a competitive race. When you speak too quickly then the ends of your words are dropped because you are rushing forward to get to the next word, so the sound gets overlapped. However, if you make a conscious effort to speak slowly, the brain can signal the muscles to enunciate the beginning, middle, and end sounds more distinctly.
Good diction reveals your skill to communicate clearly so there is no misunderstanding, and every word is heard by the listener. Change takes practice; but if you make a conscious effort, the result is worth it. You will not only sound better, but you will create a presence of being an expert in your delivery and attract more business.
Written by Brenda C. Smith