Whether you are giving an important presentation at work, delivering a speech to a crowd, or meeting a hiring manager for a job interview, having good diction can improve your ability to connect with your audience. It’s helpful to learn how to speak clearly with good diction so you can make a positive impression in the workplace. Learning diction exercises and techniques can help you improve your speech and increase your confidence. In this article, we define diction, explain the benefits of improving your diction, and provide tips for improving the quality of your speech.
What is diction?
Diction is how a speaker articulates their words when they speak. Good diction ensures that spoken words are clear by using the right pronunciation, tone, and enunciation. By improving your diction, you can increase the quality of your speech, which makes it easier for others to understand and engage with your message.
3 benefits of improving your diction
Good diction is important for many reasons. Here are three benefits of improving your diction:
1. Improving your confidence
When you feel good about your speaking voice, you may feel more confident when expressing ideas, meeting new people, and communicating with others. It can also motivate you to take risks or confront challenges while improving your satisfaction with your work and relationships.
2. Connecting with others
Feeling confident in your speaking voice may motivate you to communicate with others more often. Good diction helps you explain your ideas, concerns, and expectations clearly and effectively to your audience. Clarity of communication has benefits whether you are engaging with an audience during a public speaking event, meeting with a client to develop a project, or interviewing for a new job position.
3. Making a positive first impression
Speaking with good diction may help you make a good first impression with clients, coworkers, managers, and audiences. When you speak clearly and with the right tone, it may help others perceive you as confident, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. Using good diction may help you express your ideas clearly, efficiently, and effectively for your audience.
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How to improve your diction
Improving your diction can take time and practice. Here are nine tips for improving your diction with exercises to help you increase the quality of your speech:
1. Practice tongue twisters
A tongue twister is a string of words that use patterns of similar sounds that require different placements of your tongue to produce. Saying tongue twisters can help you learn to articulate complicated sounds by requiring you to focus on each sound as you speak. As a daily exercise, you may make a habit of practicing with tongue twisters. When you practice, take your time and note where your tongue is in your mouth as you produce each sound. Here are a few common tongue twisters for you to try:
Red leather, yellow leather (repeat five times)
She sells seashells by the seashore
You know New York, you need New York, you know you need unique New York
2. Read aloud
When you read a book or an article, say the words aloud to yourself and focus on how you sound, what words are easy to pronounce, and any words or phrases that challenge you. This can be a great way to practice speaking without an audience. Reading aloud can be a helpful strategy because it may be easier to focus on how you say things when you aren’t thinking about what to say.
3. Manage your pace
When you speak, be aware of your pacing. Some people may speak more quickly when they feel nervous, which may make their speech harder for others to understand. Pay attention to the speed of your speech and slow down so that you complete each word before saying the next one. By slowing down, you help your audience hear and fully comprehend each word.
4. Exaggerate mouth movements
To help you understand how the movements of your tongue, lips, and jaw affect your speech, practice repeating a sentence, phrase or word while moving your mouth in different ways. You may find it helpful to try this exercise in front of a mirror. Choose a sentence or phrase and repeat it several times. Try saying it with exaggerated mouth movements or while barely moving your mouth at all. Pay attention to how the sounds change depending on how you move your mouth.
5. Use exercises to strengthen your facial muscles
Sometimes, weaknesses in facial muscles can interfere with your diction. It may help to practice exercises that work the muscles in your mouth and jaw to strengthen them. Using these exercises may also help if you need to give a long presentation. Just like any other muscle, the muscles used for speech can get tired when you use them, which may decrease the clarity of your speaking during an extended talk. To ensure your speaking remains clear through a long speech or presentation, you may need to strengthen your facial muscles through exercise.
6. Control your breathing
Good breath control is important for speaking clearly. Many professional performers, such as singers and actors, practice breathing techniques to improve their breath control on stage. One method to ensure that you take full breaths is to place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your stomach. When you breathe in, the hand on your stomach moves while the other stays in place. This shows that you are breathing deeply, which may help you speak with a full voice.
7. Imitate good speakers
Another strategy to improve your speaking is to watch how others speak. Some excellent public speakers might be politicians, celebrities, or lecturers. Choose a speaker who is effective at giving presentations and study their speaking. Pay attention to their breathing, tone, pace, and mannerisms. You might choose a clip or a passage from a speech they gave and practice imitating it. Try to copy their tone and techniques and reflect on what qualities make them an effective speaker. By identifying the characteristics that make other speakers effective, you can practice including those skills in your own engagements.
8. Prepare in advance
When you feel confident and prepared for a presentation, speech, or interview, you may use better diction. Feeling comfortable with the content of your material may allow you to focus more on your delivery. Before a presentation, prepare by writing notes for your speech and rehearsing either on your own or in front of family, friends, and peers. You can prepare for an interview by researching the business you hope to work for and practicing your answers to common interview questions.
9. Record yourself
When practicing for a presentation, you may find it helpful to record yourself giving your speech. Watch the recording to identify strengths in your speaking and areas for improvement. This strategy can help you find patterns and habits in your personal speech that you can address through practice and exercises.
I hope you find this article helpful.