Speech Therapy to Stop Mumbling
Speech Therapy to Stop Mumbling
We all want to be heard clearly and well. Our words are meant to make an impact on the listener. We wish that our speech sounds captivating to our audience. Listening to a speaker with a powerful and clear voice seems entertaining and engaging. This makes clarity of speech, the most important factor while speaking in a situation, to be understood by the listener. Mumbling is when someone does not speak clearly. Speaking softly or in a hushed tone, missing out on the word endings while speaking, speech lacking power, or being asked to repeat often are a few signs of mumbling. The reasons could be numerous:
- Faulty pronunciation
- Muscle tension in facial and neck regions
- Poor mouth opening
- Inefficient breathing
- Low vocal energy
Communication with close ones or in formal situations is an integral part of our daily lives. Being asked to repeat, or a comment like “stop mumbling!” could be a discouragement many times, especially in formal situations. Not being able to speak clearly often can have a negative impact on one’s personality and self-perception. Mumbling could be misinterpreted as being less confident, less knowledgeable, or less capable.
To understand how we speak and what causes one to mumble, let’s first try to understand what exactly happens when we speak. As we go along we shall discuss the issues that can lead to the perception of mumbled speech. The process of speaking has four sub-systems involved:
The breathing apparatus, lungs, are the source of our speech. They provide the stream of air that travels up and gets transformed into voice and then words. Poor or faulty breathing affects the very source of our voice thereby affecting the clarity of our speech.
The air stream from our lungs travels up to the vocal folds or the “Voicebox”, which vibrates and generates our voice. A weak voice is often a result of poor breathing. Weak voices are not heard well by the listeners. It also demands greater effort from the speaker which eventually makes the face and neck muscles tired.
Each one of us has a very unique voice quality. This is termed resonance. Our vocal tract is made up of muscular tubes and cavities of different sizes and shapes. Each of these tubes and cavities treats the sound coming from the vocal cords differently. The tubes strengthen certain parts of our voice, thereby giving our speech our unique “resonance” or voice quality. Poor breath supply or weak voice can also affect the resonance of our voice. This often results in poor clarity of speech or being perceived as “mumbling”.
To say a sound out loud many structures in our mouth come together- lips, tongue, teeth, palate, soft palate, etc. These structures must make accurate contacts to produce a sound clearly. Often, while speaking fast, we tend to swallow words or miss out on clear pronunciation. This happens because the oral structures are unable to make accurate contacts. Thus, resulting in poor clarity of speech.
Now that we know what happens while speaking and what could cause one to mumble, let’s try to understand what we can do to make ourselves more clear while speaking. Here are some tips to help you speak clearly and make an impact :
Take a deep breath !!
This will help you start off speaking with a loud and clear voice. Practice some exercises focusing on improving deep breathing. Deep breathing will also help you overcome any anxiety and help you relax before you start speaking.
Pause at the right place for a quick breath!
If you have noticed that you have been swallowing words at the end of a sentence, then make it a habit to pause at a grammatically appropriate juncture, take a quick breath, and continue.
Pace out your speed while speaking and remember that speech muscles need adequate time to make accurate contacts so that the words you speak are clear. Also, talking slow helps your listener understand you better.
Practice speaking with a slightly bigger mouth opening and experience the difference yourself. A wider mouth opening will help you speak out all sounds clearly.
Work on your Pronunciation!
Identifying the pronunciation errors and correcting them brings about an enormous difference in the clarity of speech. A Speech-Language Pathologist can help in the correction of any faulty sounds in your speech.
Focus on your posture while speaking!
A posture while speaking helps your body to have an alignment for optimum breathing. Good breathing is the key to a powerful voice and clear speech.
It is advisable to practice speaking before giving a formal presentation. Read aloud, record yourself and identify which bits of your speech need improvement. This will help you gain confidence with the content and your presentation.
You can always consult a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) if you find that your speech is not clear enough or if you have faced negative reactions towards your talking. A Speech-Language Pathologist will help you speak clearly and impactfully. A quick examination of all the speech sub-systems will help the SLP understand your condition. Speech Therapy will then follow to strengthen each of the identified issues in your speaking. Speech Therapy will include a holistic approach to improve your talking- starting from optimizing usage of all speech subsystems to helping you tackle your socio-emotional problems related to mumbled speech. Always remember: Speak to be Heard, Speak with Confidence and Believe in Yourself !!