When clear speech is heard it is appealing to the ear. It is the result of optimal use of the vocal cords. Attaining clarity is is essential when giving a lecture. It's also important in our every day conversation. To gain mastery of use of our vocal cords requires practice.
Clear Speech: Practice
Every time we speak we have an opportunity to practice.
Speaking clearly is in part related to pronunciation. It is the proper use of vocal cords, mouth, tongue, lungs and mind.
Indistinct speech can result from slurring words, speaking in a muffled voice, running words together, dropping endings and just failure to enunciate words or groups of words.
Two other processes we will consider can also result in indistinct speech. With all of these examples, if you understand the cause, you will understand the solution and master the ability to speak clearly.
Tense Voice, High Pitch
One is when we are tense; our vocal cords like other muscles in the body tighten up. The result is a higher pitched voice. Although ours may be a technically clear vocalization, the tension when felt by the audience results in distraction from your message.
A tense voice will sound higher than our normal relaxed voice.
The other end of the spectrum is a distressed voice. Some have developed a habit of speaking in a distressed voice as part of their normal conversation. It is hard to describe but when you hear someone do it, you will know it.
It is when you speak with the throat muscles tensed and the voice is projected from lower in the neck. It happens when there is not enough air in the lungs to make the speech organs work properly.
The speech rather than resonating in the mouth, comes from the throat and sounds deeper, raspy, and forced. So even though you have clear speech, it is indistinct.
If you want to hear and feel it for your self, start talking or reading out loud. Keep speaking until you run out of air and would take another breath. Once you are out of air, continue to speak forcing the residual air in your lungs to come up, enabling your continued speech.
What does it sound like? What does it feel like? That is a distressed voice. The solution is simple, just breathe. Breathe adequate for your speaking. Clear speech requires adequate lungs.
Indistinct speech could be caused by failure to open the mouth enough or too much. Rigidity in the jaw muscles and or lips could contribute. This rigidity could come from nervousness or from habit.
Speaking too fast could likewise result from nervousness or from habit. It will make speech difficult to grasp. Unlike playing a recording at a faster speed, it inhibits the ability to enunciate the words and speak clearly.
Slurring words or running them together can be the result of a learned behavior or cultural behavior. It also includes dropping syllables indiscriminately or as a cultural norm. These have to be corrected to to speak clearly and distinctly.
Next consider an example of unclear speech to the extreme.
Unclear Speech Example This takes it to the extreme. Can You Say Fahr Tar? Do You know what a Far Tar is? If it was spoken clearly, you probably would.
Correct Speech is a closely related topic you might want to check out. With all the cultural differences around us today, what is correct speech? Learn more...