As a public speaker, the audience needs to clearly hear and understand what you are saying. Whether a trained public speaker or not, one of the most frustrating aspects of communication is when you’re listening to someone speak, and you have to work hard to understand what they’re saying because they don’t talk clearly and mumble. Different scenarios can create the effect of having your words melding into each other to becomeonelonglaboriousmumbledword. Often this happens when the speaker has become excited or nervous, and their speaking rate quickens. How can you combat mumbling and speaking too quickly? Tongue twisters are a great way to help prevent mumbling. Try saying the ones below:

How can you combat mumbling and speaking too quickly?

Tongue twisters

Tongue twisters are a great way to help prevent mumbling – try saying the ones below:

  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper, where’s the peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked?
  • Seven singing sisters sit on the stairs when singing songs.

Voice recorder

Another useful device is a voice recorder. Start your recorder and read the following out loud (without practising it):

Your words need to be spoken clearly. Don’t slur, rush, speak sloppily, or mumble. Having an accent shouldn’t make a difference in pronunciation. Open your mouth fully (not through slightly parted lips), and allow your lips and tongue to move freely. Become aware of your tongue when you speak, as it can sometimes get in the way of your words – an issue which may only come to light when we become aware of it.

Once you’ve taped yourself, replay the recording and listen carefully to how you are speaking and pronouncing your words. Select the words you feel you are not saying clearly, and concentrate on them when practising.


There is another tool you can try, which is singing! Yes, singing is a great way to become aware of your pronunciation. Often, an individual will declare, “I’ve never been able to say that word correctly!” Yet, when they sing the same word, they can pronounce it perfectly. Listen to some people sing on the television or radio and then listen to them during an interview and sometimes you will find that their speaking voice is not as clear as their singing voice. Have a go at singing and then speaking, and hear if you can tell the difference in your pronunciation and whether you mumble or not.

Samantha Richards is a Public Speaking and Communications Consultant and founder of ‘Building Voices Communication’. She is an award-winning public speaker who is the top female public speaking coach in Australia (Yahoo Finance). She is currently studying for a Diploma in Counselling and is passionate about helping others communicate confidently.