Keep working on that articulation as part of your presentation training!
Have you ever started an exercise program only to get sidetracked halfway through? We’ve all had those times- you figure out what you want to fix (get rid of those love handles!), write out a gym schedule for the month, put it on the refrigerator, glance at it every time you go in for a snack, aaannnd- that’s about it. Uhoh.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about articulation issues in our Articulate It! Series. First, we defined articulation and its importance to your message and meaning . Next, we discussed identifying your own articulation issues through some simple personal research. Now, armed with your list of improvements to be made, it’s time to put all of your research into action with an exercise plan for your articulators. And guess what- these reps are so easy, you’ll notice a difference in no time!
1) An Ovation Favorite- Tongue Twisters: We’ve talked about tongue twisters before as a great means of warming up and calming nerves. To improve specific articulation issues, find one that addresses your problem and work on it like you would a bicep curl or a leg press- continue to build the muscles to accomplish the exercise. Once it becomes easy, try a new one and start the process all over again. Find a bunch of tongue twisters, listed by the letter or sound they exercise, here.
2) Overdo it. No REALLY, OVERDO it: Lots of trainers talk to their clients about pushing their body to the limit. Working on your articulation requires going to the limit and beyond. Just saying words as you would on a daily basis is not enough! Break some text down into sections- perhaps a paragraph long. (Your text can be anything- an upcoming presentation, a favorite poem, etc.) Speak a section slowly, over-articulating every word and sound. Make sure none of the words run together, hit every consonant with extra strength, and pause for a full breath between sentences. Now go back and read it as you normally would. You’ll feel a huge difference, and any lazy habits will present themselves in a big way. Repeat until you find the balance between the two extremes.
3) Do some Isolations: Dancers often perform Isolation exercises- moves that are designed to cause one specific set of muscles to do all of the work with no help from any other muscle group. You can do some articulator isolations by just repeating certain sounds over and over. Again, pronounce them distinctly- put some muscle in it! But focus on one small set of sounds at a time. Here are some to try:
“K, G, ng, G…”
“B, P, N, W…”
“J, sh, J…”
“ng, ng, ng…”
Just like your visits to the gym or your weekly Zumba® class, add these into your routine. Once you’ve noticed the difference in your own speech, you won’t want to stop working it out!