Whether you’re an actor, video creator, public speaker or someone trying to make a good first impression, it’s SO important to know how to speak clearly!
In this video I put together 5 really effective exercises that will help you to stop mumbling and start enunciating like a professional speaker in no time.
If you’ve ever been told to stop mumbling and speak clearer because people can’t follow you, then this is the video for you. In this video I’m going to teach you five really simple exercises that you can use to practice speaking as confidently and clearly as you need to. Hello and welcome back or if this is your first time here hello, my name is Kat Elizabeth. I am an actor and personal branding coach. Thanks to all of my years of acting classes and speech and drama and having to do public speaking and videos, I’ve definitely figured out a few tricks to speaking as clearly as possible. Actually, funnily enough, one of the reasons I learned to speak so clearly was because growing up we had a lot of Japanese students that would live with us for a certain period of time. When people have English as a second language, especially when they’re definitely not fluent in English, it is so important to speak really clearly and a little bit slower so that they can understand you, like it’s a sign of respect to do that, but also it’s so that you can communicate.
And what’s funny is that in the years since, I often have people asking me, Oh, where are you from? Are you actually Australian? Because I’ll often speak a lot clearer when I’m meeting someone for the first time, and I lose some of that classic Aussie accent that I have just because I’m trying to be as clear as possible. So anyways, enough about me. Let’s talk about you, and the five things that you can do to start speaking clearer immediately.
Number one is actually to warm up your voice properly. And look, there are tons of vocal warmups that you can do, but the one that I want you to do today is one that’s actually going to relax the muscles in your face, especially around your jaw. Because jaw tension is actually one of the things that can cause you to sound a little bit constricted and unclear. What I like to do, and this works as a singing warmup as well, is that you’re actually going to yawn and harm at the same time. So you’re going to go. Which is going to make you want to yawn for real and that’s completely fine because yawning is one of the best relaxation exercises for your jaw and then what you can do as well as just go. I know I sound ridiculous right now, but you’re going to be doing it with me, so hahaha, you sound silly too.
I would recommend doing this for a couple of minutes, starting sort of really gently. You can almost make it so that it’s not even audible and then make it louder and louder. Whatever you do, just don’t push it too far. If ever it feels uncomfortable, you’ve gone too far. So don’t go too high, too low, too loud, just wherever it’s comfortable because this is actually just meant to relax you. It’s not meant to get you ready to sing the opera. Exercise number two, it’s going to sound really simple, but sometimes simple is best. I want you to start by reading some books out loud and recording yourself while you do that so you can listen back. The best thing to do is actually start children’s books because they’re so nice and simple. Plus they’re often quite melodic. They’ll have a really nice rhythm to them. Start by reading those ones out. The cat in the hat that on the mat, things like that. Record it, listen back, notice where you’re getting a little bit sloppy and make sure that you kind of work on that before you work up to the next level.
You’re going to find maybe a young adult fiction or something like that. You’re going to eventually keep working your way up to reading out things that have maybe from a science journal, something that is dry with really big words. Because trust me, the confidence that comes from being able to read aloud is massive. I used to do an acting class where every week we would start the class by having to bring in a book and read a page from a book of our choosing. And it’s crazy how suddenly these confident actors all get really nervous and start stumbling over our words because it’s a much scarier thing to read things out loud than it is to just kind of speak from your head or your heart. My recommendation is that if you can get really confident with reading these books or these texts aloud, you’re going to feel so much more confident in day to day just speaking the things that you’re thinking.
All right, exercise number three is a little bit of an awkward one, but I have been told that it works. What you’re going to do is get a pen and you’re going to put it in your mouth and you’re going to hold it gently with your teeth. Please don’t break your teeth in this exercise. You’re just going to recite the alphabet, which is because you can’t move your jaw properly, it’s going to get your tongue working over time to make those sounds properly. Quick example so you can laugh at me again. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O. P. What you’ll find is that when you first start, it might be a little bit like, okay.
Eventually you’re going to be able to start understanding what you say. And so that is the idea. I do also recommend that if you’re having trouble kind of hearing the improvement, maybe record yourself doing this every couple of weeks just to make sure that it is getting better. But essentially it’s kind of about tongue agility with this one because you’re not relying on your mouth to make the sounds. Exercise number four is some tongue twisters, which is obviously some of the classic ways of getting your speech to be clearer. I’m going to include these down below in the description so that you can write them out for yourself. But I’m going to read them out to you now. First one is Betty bought a bit of butter and she found the butter bitter so Betty bought a bit of better butter to make the bitter butter better.
You’re also going to do the classic “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?” And the real focus here is all on the consonants. Obviously the vowels come out really easily. But with Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, you want to make that plosive sound, make it as strong as possible because this is where we get the clarity in our speech. Another one is “Sally sells she …” “Sally sells seashells on the seashore.” Which seems easy and then you go to say it. And red leather, yellow leather, red leather, yellow leather, which is a really common one. And the idea with all of them is you want to get them perfect first, so really slow and perfect. Then start speeding up. Make sure that as you speed it up, the quality of the sound is still there even as it gets faster. Don’t go any faster than you need to. Make sure you’ve nailed it at that speed first before turning up the speed dial again.
And finally, this isn’t actually an exercise. This is just something that you need to start doing day to day when you’re having these conversations. The first thing they do is just slow down. When people ask you a question, don’t think that you have to race to respond. Often that means we sort of … Our mouths are going faster than our thoughts are and that’s where we can get really jumbled. It also means you might not take it enough breath, it means that you’re a little bit nervous because you’re not really sure about what you’re saying yet. If someone asks you a question, take a second to just kind of think about it and go, Hmm, this is what I think.
And kind of give yourself that moment to respond and don’t feel like you have to fill all the space. I’m really bad at this. If I get nervous, my automatic thing is just keep talking, just fill the space. But there’s some real power in just answering something really simply and then stopping and allowing the other person to actually respond. And that will give your brain then time to catch up and respond to their next thing and so on and so forth. So just slow down. We do not need to speak as fast as we think that we need to, and just by slowing down, you’re going to be able to give a more intelligent response as well as clearer. That is my absolute most important piece of advice for you.
Well, I hope you found all of these exercises helpful. Please comment below and let me know how you’re going with them now and maybe check back in in a few weeks and report back on your progress. And don’t forget to copy down those exercises that I’ve included in the description below because they will help. If you did learn something from this video given thumbs up, subscribe for future videos, and maybe share it with a friend who is a bit of a mumbler as well. All right, well thanks as always for watching and I’ll see you next time. Bye for now.
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Kat is an actor and personal branding coach as well as the host of The Personal Branding Project Podcast and her self-titled YouTube channel. She started her career off by playing Marilyn at Warner Bros Movie World, went on to perform in the original Australian casts of Jersey Boys & Hairspray and eventually found herself writing/producing her own work before becoming a self-employed copywriter and marketing strategist. She now offers 1:1 Coaching and Online Courses for entrepreneurs, freelancers + multi-passionate creatives.