How to Speak Clearly: 7 Tips & Exercises for Improvement

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Tricia Brouk in front of an audience, on stage

Speaking clearly is essential for effective communication. Whether you’re on a big stage giving a talk, presenting in a meeting, or having a conversation across the table, it can be frustrating when your message is not getting across.

Fortunately, the art of public speaking can be learned! Below are 7 tips, tricks, and exercises that will support you in speaking more clearly.

Before we dive in though, let’s talk about some of the most common causes of unclear speech.

Why Do Some People Struggle to Speak Clearly?

There may be many reasons you struggle to speak clearly – whether you are on a stage, in a small group, or even in 1:1 settings. Some of the most common reasons include:

Anxiety & nerves

When you’re nervous, your body tenses up, including your vocal cords and facial muscles. This tension can cause you to mumble or slur your words, making it difficult for others to understand you.

Fear of judgment

Some people feel intimidated by speaking in front of others. If this is you, you may speak too quickly or quietly in hopes that it will help you avoid being judged or criticized.

Lack of confidence

Having low self-confidence can cause you to second-guess yourself, leading to stammering, hesitation, and mumbling. This makes it difficult for others to understand you. A lack of confidence in what you’re talking about can also cause you to focus too much on the words you’re saying and not enough on your delivery.

Lack of practice

Speaking clearly is a skill that requires practice. If you don’t put in the time to practice the art of public speaking, you will struggle to speak clearly on a big stage.

Speaking too quickly

When you speak quickly, it can be challenging to enunciate your words clearly. This is especially true during a big talk when you’re trying to fit a lot of information into a short amount of time.

Whatever you are struggling with, it’s important to remember that speaking clearly is a skill that can be developed and improved with practice. Working with a speaking coach or practicing exercises can help you become a more effective and confident speaker.

7 Tips for Speaking Clearly

1. Practice articulating words

The first step in speaking clearly is to practice articulating your words. This means focusing on the way you pronounce each syllable and sound. Start by practicing the sounds that are challenging for you. For example, if you struggle with the “th” sound, practice saying words like “think,” “thought,” and “bath.” Record yourself and listen to the recording to identify the words that are hardest to understand when you speak.

2. Slow down

Another way to improve your clarity of speech is to slow down. When you speak too quickly, it can be difficult for others to understand what you’re saying. Take your time and focus on enunciating each word. This also gives you time to think about what you’re saying and organize your thoughts.

3. Pause and breathe

Pausing and taking a breath is a simple technique that can help improve your clarity of speech. When you’re nervous or excited, it’s easy to speak quickly and run out of breath. Take a deep breath before you start speaking, and pause for a breath between sentences or ideas. This will help you maintain a steady pace and avoid getting tongue-tied.

4. Practice tongue twisters

“She sells seashells by the seashore.” Tongue twisters are a fun and effective way to improve your clarity when speaking. Practice them regularly to improve your diction and enunciation.

5. Use your diaphragm

Your diaphragm is a muscle located in your abdomen that is responsible for your breathing. Using your diaphragm when you speak can help improve your clarity. Take a deep breath and push the air out of your diaphragm as you talk. This will give your voice more power and resonance, making it easier for others to hear and understand you.

6. Listen to yourself

It’s important to hear yourself when you speak. Record yourself speaking and listen to the recording. This can be uncomfortable at first, but it’s essential for identifying areas where you need improvement. Pay attention to your diction, pace, and tone of voice.

7. Work with a speaker coach

Finally, working with a public speaking coach can be incredibly helpful for improving your clarity when you speak. A coach can provide personalized feedback and exercises to help you address specific areas where there is room for improvement. They can also help you develop a speaking style that is clear, confident, and engaging.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, speaking clearly is essential for effective communication. By practicing articulation, slowing down, pausing and breathing, and working closely with a speaker coach, you can improve your clarity and become a more effective communicator.

Remember, mastering the art of public speaking takes practice, but with dedication and hard work, you can take those big stages you are meant for.

If you think working with a public speaking coach may be right for you, reach out to Tricia Brouk today.

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