How to Stop Mumbling and Be Heard

In Part 2 of the mini-series on mumbling, The Public Speaker shares 8 tips and exercises to help you kick your mumbling habit forever and be heard.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #220

Exercise #3: The “Pencil in the Mouth” Trick

There’s another vocal exercise that goes like this.

"Mommy made me mash my M&Ms…I cried!"

First, try singing this line several times. Each time you repeat, start one note higher. You should find yourself pronouncing each syllable more clearly and opening your mouth wider with each repetition.

Now, repeat the same phrase, but with a twist – put a pencil in your mouth horizontally. You don’t have to sing this time, but if you want to, feel free!

Exercise #4: Read Out Loud

For the next exercise, pick up something to read. It can be a novel, a children’s picture book, a magazine, or newspaper. Now read it out loud. Enunciate each syllable, focusing on keeping your mouth open and your lips moving. Exaggerate the words a bit to really open up. If you have kids, you can practice reading out loud to them. Add some dramatic flair. Get into it! 

Exaggerate the words a bit to really open up. If you have kids, you can practice reading out loud to them.

Exercise #5: Record Yourself

Next, record yourself speaking on your camera phone or tablet. Listen for letters, syllables, or words you don't pronounce clearly. Look at how wide open your mouth is. Try the exercises again while recording yourself. Then review the video to see if you have at least one finger width of space.

If recording yourself isn’t an option, ask a friend to help you out. Just be careful who you pick! I made the mistake of telling my children to call attention to my enunciation problems—they caught me dropping the "g" sound in many words. (I'm from the Philadelphia area where this is very common.) 

“Mommy, you just said, 'gonna go.' It’s “going to go.”  “Mrs. Public Speaker, you just said, 'hootin' and hollerin', but that should be 'hooting and hollering.'” Seriously though, it’s fun for them, and I’ve become much more aware of my enunciation.  

3 More Tips to Help You Stop Mumbling

Here are 3 more quick tips to help you stop mumbling:

  1. Sing in the shower. Sing in the car. Sing with your kids. Emphasize your words. Singing helps to exercise your voice and mouth.
  2. Breathe with your diaphragm. Put your hand on your tummy and take a breath. If you’re using your diaphragm you’ll feel your tummy expand with air.
  3. Make eye contact and stand up straight. It’s harder to mumble when you’re looking someone in the eye.

In this mini-seried we started by talking about Why You Mumble (and Why you Need to Stop!). Today, I’ve given you some time-tested exercises to help you stop mumbling. If you frequently mumble, then do at least one each exercise each day for several weeks until speaking clearly becomes a habit. The bottom line is this: When your mouth is naturally more open, you'll have more breath support. You’ll have more precise sounds. You'll have a more relaxed pace. Everyone will understand you and your credibility will increase.

At first, speaking with a more open mouth is going to feel strange and unnatural. Mumblers are not used to having this feeling. But by regularly doing the exercises, speaking clearly will feel more natural.

So go ahead, open up!!!

This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker.  Helping you lead, influence, and inspire through better communication. Your success is my business.  

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About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.