No one should struggle to understand us and yet it happens frequently. While there are several reasons this occurs such as your volume, rate, language, etc., the one I’ll mention today is your articulation. How well we articulate contributes to our intelligibility and yes, you can easily improve this critical communication skill. Want to know how?
See if any of these behaviors sound familiar when speaking on the phone or in-person…
1. Keeping your hands in front of, near, or on your mouth
2. Resting a pencil/pen/glasses on your lips
3. Holding your head in your hands
4. Chewing on ice, gum, or any food
Each of these behaviors can become a habit and you may not even be aware that you’re doing this while speaking to others.
If you’re keeping anything in front of your mouth you end up decreasing the option of having people receive visual cues by watching your mouth. This cuts down on your intelligibility.
If you hold your head, you restrict the movement of your mandible (lower jaw) which distorts the clarity of your speech. Once again your intelligibility is reduced.
When we chew and speak simultaneously we have competing behaviors and the net result is that our speech is compromised. Choose one or the other but not both.
So an easy way to immediately improve your articulation (intelligibility) is to avoid the habits noted here. Be patient with yourself as you make these changes but know that persistence will pay off, especially when you don’t have to repeat yourself. Now that’s a mouthful!