Hi Everyone! My name is Margot Friedman and I am an accent modification specialist. I am also a speech language pathologist, so basically that means that I cover everything having to do with talking! So today, to start things off, I wanted to discuss 5 tips to speak more clearly. This could apply to anyone, in any circumstance, whether you find yourself on an important work call, in a social setting with friends, or on the job interview of your dreams.
Tip #1 - Posture
Strangely enough, one of the most important things about speaking takes place before actually talking! When you’re standing or sitting, you want to make sure that you’re upright instead of slouching. While this next part can definitely take practice since it’s not always the most comfortable thing to do naturally, if you’re sitting, you want to make sure that your shoulders are relaxed. This means that you want your elbows off of tables and also not resting on the arms of your chair since this can push up your shoulders. Also, it’s best that your feet are placed in front of yourself on the floor…although this isn’t always possible depending on the height of your chair.
Tip #2 - Breathe
Breathing is obviously very important – but how you breathe can also determine how you speak. The diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of the rib cage. Deep, “diaphragmatic breaths” are an effective way of breathing, while shallow “chest breaths” may lead to the feeling of “running out of breath.” We can even apply this to certain workouts, such as yoga, if you correctly integrate your breathing with the rise and fall of your stomach.
Tip #3 - Pronounce Entire Words
Leaving off word endings or changing the last sound of a word can influence the meaning of your message, whether you’re a native speaker, or currently learning the pronunciation of sounds within Standard American English. This “sound difference” may be observed at the end of the word if the “unvoiced” sound is expressed in place of the “voiced” sound. An example of this would be saying, the word: “cap” (with a “p”) in connected speech instead of “cab” (with a “b”). Initially, slowing down the rate of your speech will help to focus on pronouncing all sounds within words.
Tip #4 - Grammar
When possible, it’s always best to prepare your grammar ahead of time - and this goes for anyone, even if you’ve been speaking English for most (or even all) of your life. Any time you want to increase the general clarity of your speech, you want to make sure that your phrasing and vocabulary is well thought out and flows as clearly as possible. This way, the listener is focused on what you’re saying instead of how you’re saying it.
Tip #5 - Repetition
Practice is definitely the most important piece when you’re working hard to improve anything! It’s no surprise that this also applies to speaking more clearly! It’s a great strategy to find 10-20 minute blocks throughout your day to review key phrases or read aloud a passage from an article or your favorite book. Recording yourself is an effective way to track any changes or improvement in your speech clarity!
…And those are 5 tips to speak more clearly! I hope that you found them to be helpful and something that you can apply to your everyday life however it makes most sense to you! Have a great day!