Do you want to level up in your professionalism in how you SPEAK? Is there something about how you talk that has always caused you anxiety or a feeling of being less-than? You are not alone! Cultural factors play a role in how we communicate verbally, and from a functional perspective, the primary reasons speaking can be inhibited are air flow, articulation of consonants, and tongue and jaw independence.
Voice teachers allllwwwaaayyyys discuss breath support and air flow, right? How many times have you heard, “Now, sing that with a supported sound.” The same applies to speaking; to develop an efficient speaking voice, air flow is necessary so that the sound is free. Research shows that in the workplace, employees are perceived as more professional when they have a healthy-sounding speaking voice. Letting air flow through as we speak can help in achieving that sound.
Consonants are fickle; we treat them as though all of them stop air flow. However, many consonants require air flow to be accurately articulated, and all consonants require air flow to sound. Think of a “b” or a “t”. . . an explosion of air through the mouth is much of what articulates those sounds. Now think of a “m” or a “y”. . . a continuation of smooth air flow is required to articulate those sounds. Air flow is necessary for consonants, and consonants must be articulated efficiently to have a clear speaking voice.
Let’s talk tongue and jaw independence. Get yourself in front of a mirror, lower your jaw, and try to articulate a “l” sound without moving your jaw. You may find the tip of your tongue moving to the roof of the mouth – that’s good. Your jaw is probably moving as well, right? That’s not necessarily ideal. Try it again, keep that jaw lowered while trying to articulate the “l” sound. Also, try keeping that jaw still, so that only the tongue is moving. Harder than it sounds, yah?! If you can do this, you’ve achieved some tongue and jaw independence. It is CRUCIAL for clear speaking.
As is the case with most physiology, one aspect of the system affects the others. Air flow affects articulation of consonants, and tongue and jaw independence affects how clearly consonants are articulated, and the list goes on. To develop a healthy and free speaking voice, we must invest in our instrument.
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