When I work with an executive on diction and pronunciation, I always check their jaw/tongue/lips for signs of tension. Usually, it’s visible. The lips are clenched a little and the mouth doesn’t open very widely. It’s no wonder that they sound like they are mumbling and are difficult to understand. In the case of tension and “tongue tied”, we often work on relaxation exercises to realize the potential the muscles of our vocal tract have. We practice an exaggerated mouth opening on counting and other automatic speech tasks. (Most clients find their jaw exhausted after our exercises.)
Then, we find ways to incorporate this skill into everyday activities. If my clients have young children, the first thing that I recommend is to read, “Fox in Socks” by Dr. Seuss.
I did a paper on Dr. Seuss in college because Dr. Seuss was one of my favorite authors. I found out many interesting facts. However, my real purpose for introducing this particular book is because it boasts…”How smart is your tongue.” It is truly an exercise of tongue control and it is recommended to be read slowly the first time. But, I tell my clients (with young children) to be challenged and read the book quickly to them. Or start slowly and gradually pick up speed.
You see, this book has a lot of tongue twisters. You must have a relaxed jaw and warmed up articulators to be able to read the words quickly. It is a fun way to practice being relaxed while having fun with their children. Of course, what child isn’t going to have fun with a play on words like this book has.
Here is an example:
“Here’s an easy game to play.
Here’s an easy thing to say…
Who sews whose socks?
Sue sews Sue’s socks.
Who sees who sew whose new socks, sir?
You see Sue sew Sues’s new socks, sir.
That’s not easy Mr. Fox, sir.” (pp. 18-21)
You can buy a copy of this book here. Have fun reading to your children while exercising your muscles at the same time.
Lynda Stucky coaches mid-senior level executives on using their speech and voice effectively to establish credibility, position themselves within their company, and enhance their reputation as a topic authority. She provides training through one-on-one coaching and online courses to reduce foreign accents, “redd-up” regional accents, and teach speech and voice branding for image control. She is President of ClearlySpeaking, and is a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist. She is the author of "Voice Branding for Executives: How to Align Your Speech, Language, and Voice Skills with Your Professional Goals." Her background in speech pathology offers unique skills for dealing with professional communication skills in the corporate world. She believes communication skills should not hold anyone back from achieving personal and professional goals.