You have a lot to say and are enthusiastic about what you have to say, yet you’re lacking one key ingredient — no one can understand you because you mumble. You may mumble and not even be aware of it — although a good indicator is when people are always asking you to repeat yourself because they didn’t hear or understand what you said.
Mumbling is caused by a number of different things. Common causes include trying to talk too fast, not opening your mouth all the way while speaking, blocking your mouth, not speaking loud enough, or having a dry or sore mouth. Unless there is something physically wrong with your mouth, the key to dealing with mumbling is practice. Just like people can control their stuttering with practice, a little effort and awareness goes a long way with mumbling. Here are two easy ways to deal with mumbling.
Read out loud to minimize mumbling:
If you have young children, try reading to them. This gives you double the benefit because reading to kids helps them learn. Children’s books are especially great to start off with as many are purposely written to help kids work on particular sounds. This is helpful if you find yourself struggling with a lisp or certain letter combinations. You’re local children’s librarian can probably recommend a number of books (and you can say it’s for your child). I highly recommend a Dr. Seuss book such as Hop on Pop.
If you find certain words to give you more trouble than others, then keep working at them. You should see a noticeable improvement after three to five readings, depending on your situation. You can practice reading in the privacy of your own home without anyone else around. If you’re giving a speech, you can practice reading your speech out loud so you can identify and work on those problem areas.
Practice in conversation:
This is a little riskier than reading out loud because other people are involved but that can also be a benefit if you’ve enlisted them to help you. Start with casual conversations and pay attention to how you sound. If you catch yourself mumbling, then stop yourself, say “excuse me” and repeat what you mumbled more clearly.
Friends will be especially helpful with this as they can tell you if they notice an improvement. In business or professional conversations, try speaking slowly and carefully enunciate your words. Be cognizant of when your mouth is getting dry or feeling tired. Then, excuse yourself to get a sip of water (if appropriate) or pause for a moment to deal with your mouth.
Mumbling is a minor issue. Just being aware of it is the first step. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to fix – you just need to take the time to address it. Once you start working on it, you’ll notice an improvement in no time.