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[Speaking-Out-Loud May 2016] On speaking clearly
May 27, 2016

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The Announcer's Test

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On speaking clearly

Pronunciation, diction, enunciation ...

All three words are often used interchangeably to cover speech clarity, and all three cause major arguments about the right and wrong ways of saying words aloud.

Right or wrong ways aside, the bigger issue is clarity. Can the people listening understand what is being said?

You may have an accent. You may mispronounce some words or you may speak very quickly. However if people understand you easily then there's NOT problem. Your speech is clear.

The problems begin when people CAN'T understand what you're saying. These, if left unchecked, can cause mayhem.

If you find yourself frequently being asked to repeat yourself it could be because:

  • you slur words together, missing out endings. A common example is "Lemee" which is a contraction of "Let me".
  • you mumble. The words you say are indistinct and spoken too quietly to catch.
  • you mispronounce words. Examples: "close" instead of "clothes" or "aks" instead of "ask"

Take the cure

The common remedy is made up of a mix of:

  • speech exercises.
    These could include tongue twisters, work on speech rate, volume, breathing, tone and pausing.
  • actively listening to oneself
    - making recordings of yourself and analyzing them closely for habits that block communication.

  • large amounts of practice
    Ingrained habits are tricky to change. It will take repeated conscious practice to replace old patterns of speech with new ones. If you're not used to speaking clearly, you'll find your face will actually ache from the effort involved in opening your mouth and articulating well. However if you have the motivation, clear speech is doable!

  • actively listening to others
    - becoming more aware of the speech patterns you hear around you and working out what is good in what you're hearing, and what is a hindrance or a communication blocker.

Test yourself with The Announcer's Test

Here's an articulation exercise called The Announcer's Test to play with. It's made up of deliberately tricky to say words and phrases and was apparently used to test would-be radio announcers in the 1940s.

Try recording it. I did, and sure enough I ran out of breath the first time through, and I mangled a few of the words. My last effort is here:
The Announcer's Test.

Have a go yourself. It's fun as well as educational! Download the pdf I made of the text, take a deep breath and try it out.
Get the The Announcer's Test pdf


Diction exercises - tongue twisters - a page of twisters with instructions for practice

Proper pronunciation - the impact of mispronunciation, a list of commonly bungled words and phrases, plus ongoing links for help.

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What's new - tangling tongue twisters

Do you teach public speaking?

Banish the mumbles with tongue twisters
Here's six activities - all of them perfect for group practice for middle school and up. They're fun and very effective.

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And now some inspiration

Tim Urban, do you know his work? It's witty, intelligent, and honest. Here's his take On doing a TED Talk - the full story. Be sure to watch the talk too! The subject is one some of us are very familiar with - procrastination.

He provides an eloquent explanation of why it took me reading multiple pages of his website plus multiple hours to put this newsletter together!

Comment, share & connect

If you've got comments, feedback or questions you're most welcome to contact me through my about me page.

If you liked this issue of Speaking-Out-Loud, please feel free to send it on to any friends or family. The site url to forward so they can subscribe is Speaking-Out-Loud.

And I'd love to see you on's face book page too.

Until next time,
Happy speaking,


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