There are many reasons people seek out a speech coach, but all of them usually fall into three broad categories: clarity, confidence and credibility. Every client that walks into my office is concerned with at least one of those issues, and every improvement we seek is aimed at reinforcing those three critical traits.
Clarity is often considered with regard to content, structuring your thoughts in a logical manner and choosing the right words. But good communication requires more than just language. It takes more than just your mouth and your brains.
To communicate well, you must do more than just say the words. You must make sure your listeners get the message. It’s easy to overlook that final phase of the process when you have the advantage of knowing what you’re about to say, before you’ve said it. Don’t assume you’re being clear just because you’ve said the words.
Here are some common obstacles to clarity. Addressing these issues will ensure you have the communication skills to be consistently and easily understood.
Fast rate is one of the most common causes of unclear speech. Vowel sounds get shortened and words become a jumble of consonants. Slowing the speed of your speech gives you time to form sounds accurately and gives your listeners time to absorb what you’ve said. Learning to breathe deeply while speaking is one of the most effective strategies for slowing down naturally.
Mumbling often goes hand in hand with fast speech. When you speak quickly, your mouth doesn’t have time to open very far, so speech sounds get distorted being squeezed through your teeth. Practicing jaw and tongue relaxation creates more openness in your mouth and encourages more precision in the formation of vowels and consonants.
A quiet voice often contributes to a lack of clarity. When you’re not putting enough sound into the room, your listeners have nothing to work with. Using more breath, feeling sound vibrations in your body and inviting your voice to fill the room will generate more power, without straining. Remember, your voice will seem louder to you than it sounds to your listeners. Get used to it.
An accent can make it difficult for others to understand you, especially if it’s combined with a quiet voice or fast speech. Learning to master a few strategically selected language skills can produce dramatic improvements in clarity. But, before you invest in accent training, make sure you’re speaking slowly and projecting well. In many cases that’s all that’s required to get the clarity you need.
Failure to speak clearly is not a minor inconvenience; it has serious implications for your personal image and professional success. When people struggle to understand you, they eventually ignore you. Addressing the common underlying causes enables you to communicate fluently and distinctly. Enhancing clarity not only strengthens your communication skills, it improves your image and makes others more responsive to your message.
For more exercises that will help improve your clarity, click the link in the description box and enroll in the free video mini course, The Sound of Success.