How to Improve Your Articulation

clear water by Yarik MishinAre there words which you frequently stumble over while speaking? Do people have a tough time understanding what you’re saying? Is English not you’re first language? Well don’t worry because you’re not alone. Many people, including professional speakers, struggle with their articulation. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to work on improving the way you pronounce words.

There are two techniques that I highly recommend for those of us that desire better articulation. Both of these techniques not only help you speak more clearly, but they also have some added benefits.

The Radio Repeat:

Your car is an excellent place to practice your articulation, especially when it’s just you and the radio.  As you listen to commercials, the news or the DJ talking about the song that was just played, try repeating what you hear spoken – especially if it’s a word or phrase that you struggle with.

This is most effective with talk radio or audiobooks as the people that typically speak on these types of programs have above average articulation and grammar (another challenge for a lot of us). Talk radio hosts and guests are typically good speakers and the voice over actors that record books in an audio format need to speak well and clearly to be hired for the job.

This is something that you can do while you’d otherwise be unproductive – true multitasking.  But an added benefit of this technique is that it requires you to listen so you’ll be improving that skill as well. And when you repeat what you hear, you greatly increase your memory retention.

If you’re concerned that people in other cars will think you’re crazy, roll up your windows and put on a Bluetooth headset and they’ll think you’re just yapping on the phone.

The Reader:

Reading out loud is an excellent way to practice articulating your words. You can read a magazine or newspaper article, a book or even ads from the junk mail that you get. If you have young children, I recommend reading books to them as it has the added benefit of encouraging them to read. Children’s books also have interesting rhyming patterns and uses of alliteration that can give your articulation a real workout.

Like repeating what you hear on the radio, reading out loud helps your memory retention so it’s an effective way to learn something. Technical articles from your field have the added benefit of forcing you to learn how to properly pronounce terms – and as a rule of thumb, you should look up the meanings and pronunciations of words and terms that you’re unfamiliar with.

So if you’re struggling with your articulation, try out these two techniques. Like any other skill, the more you practice the quicker you’ll improve. Before you know it, you’ll be speaking more clearly.

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6 thoughts on “How to Improve Your Articulation

  1. Dr. Jim Anderson

    Great post. One other thought is to write your speech so that you minimize the number of possible “verbal stumbles” that you might have. Make sure that you don’t have words that start with the same letter one after another, etc.

    – Dr. Jim Anderson
    The Accidental Communicator Blog
    “Learn How To intimately connect with your audience in order to make an lasting impact in their lives.”

  2. Gopi

    English is not my first language, in fact I try to improve my articulation using ‘The Reader’approach by reading books to my kids. I will try to use ‘The Road Repeat’ approach as well.

    Thanks for the post.

    -Gopi

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