Speech Exercises to Improve Articulation

Have you attended a talk where you feel like it was conducted in a foreign language (although you were sure you signed up for an English talk) because you can’t seem to understand what the speaker was presenting? This is usually how an audience feels when a speaker is not well-articulated. Articulation is a skill that can be learned. Before diving into some speech exercises to improve articulation, let’s explore the benefits of being well-articulated.   

Why it is important to articulate your words well when giving a speech

Project Confidence

Being well-articulated makes you appear more confident and well prepared. The audience tends to trust speakers who are confident as they seem to know their stuff well. Hence, being well-articulated helps you to convince your audience more effectively.   

Stand out from other speakers

Articulation is one aspect that many speakers don’t pay special attention to. If you can deliver a speech that is well-articulated, your audience can follow and understand your message clearly. Delivering a speech or presentation that’s clearer and better understood than other speeches will make you stand out from other speakers.

Speech exercises to improve articulation

How to improve speech articulation

Speech exercises are extremely useful to improve your articulation. With the right amount of practice, your articulation will improve by leaps and bounds.  

In the following section of the article, we will introduce some exercises that will help you to improve your articulation.

Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters are phrases made up of many similar sounding words that are hard to pronounce quickly and correctly. These exercises strengthen tongue muscles and ensures proper articulation of syllables.

For tongue twisters to be effective, start reading it slowly and focus on articulating every word. Once you feel more comfortable, speed up while maintaining clarity.

Here are some examples of tongue twisters to get you started.

Try this:
Bill had a billboard.
Bill also had a board bill.
The board bill bored Bill,
So Bill sold his billboard
And paid his board bill.
Then the board bill
No longer bored Bill,
But though he had no board bill,
Neither did he have his billboard!
Try this:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers?
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
Try this:
Betty bought a bit of butter.
But the butter Betty bought was bitter.
so Betty bought a better butter,
and it was better than the butter Betty bought before.
Try this:
All I want is a proper cup of coffee,
Made in a proper copper coffee pot
I may be off my dot
But I want a cup of coffee
From a proper coffee pot.
Tin coffee pots and iron coffee pots
They're no use to me -
If I can't have a proper cup of coffee
In a proper copper coffee pot
I'll have a cup of tea.
Try this:
Silly Sally swiftly shooed seven silly sheep.
The seven silly sheep Silly Sally shooed
Shilly-shallied south.
These sheep shouldn't sleep in a shack;
Sheep should sleep in a shed.
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Still looking for something more than just the above tongue twisters? How about taking it slow with Fox in Socks by Dr Seuss. 

Tongue Circling

Another useful exercise would be to use your tongue and create circles with it. The main goal of this exercise is to help strengthen the muscles in your tongue, making it easier for you to articulate your words properly.

This exercise requires you to first take the tip of your tongue and place in between your upper lip and upper teeth. Next, use your tongue to make a circle all the way inside your mouth. Do it 4 times in a clockwise direction and 4 times in an anti-clock wise direction. After that stick your tongue out and say “Ah”.

While you are doing this exercise, make sure to do it slowly with a consistent pace.

Watch a video here on how it is done.

Practice Speaking in front of a Mirror

One other speech exercise you can do to improve your articulation is to practice speaking in front of a mirror.

The main goal of this exercise helps you to know the words you cannot articulate based on mouth movements and sounds you produce.

To perform this exercise, tell a short story in front of a mirror without referring to any materials. Speak slowly so you can observe how your mouth moves and the sounds you produce.

Let’s take this sentence as an example. “One day, Amy was going to the supermarket to get some groceries.” When you say the word going, notice how your lip purse and retract. If not done correctly, you will sound different.

Once you have identified words that you cannot articulate, find someone who can articulate them correctly and learn by observing his/her mouth movement in front of a mirror.

The above are different exercises that help to improve your articulation. Coupled with practices, you are on your way to becoming a well-articulated speaker!   

Interested to improve other areas of your voice? Refer to other useful articles here:

Avoid these negative body language gestures in presentation

How to use appropriate tone of voice

How to improve your speaking voice

How to project your voice and speak louder

How to memorize a speech fast and without notes

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