When I was young, I encountered difficulties in having a clear diction when I pronounced my words. It was only recently that I realised that it was a result of bad speech habits after reading the Toastmasters' handbook entitled "Your Speaking Voice".
A thin book, it is surprising thick in content. There are many aspects to our speaking voice. Just to name a few, the book teaches us methods for voice relaxation, breathing exercises to improve volume, extending and controlling your pitch, projecting your voice, improving your articulation and others.
I have decided to work on improving my articulation as a start.
1: Decide that you are going to be careful with your speech.
2: Open your mouth fully when you talk. Otherwise, it is akin to talking with your hand in front of your mouth.
3: Loosen lazy lips. Talk as if your lips are wrapping around your words as if each word were a tasty morsel.
4. Teach your tongue to keep its place. This is less difficult as the tongue usually acts without your conscious direction. But it it gets in the way, you must consciously make it respond to your demand.
5. Practice. Every time you speak, remind yourself to speak each word well.
Your speech muscles must be trained and exercise just as you would train your body's other muscles for athletic activity. The booklet gives a set of lip, tongue and jaw exercises to help one obtain the greatest possible flexibility.
If fellow toastmasters are interested, go and suss out this fabulous book. It comes with the Competent Communicator and Competent Leadership manuals when we first join the Toastmasters' Club.
Non-toastmasters who are interested to improve your public speaking skills, what are you waiting for? Go and check out the nearest Toastmasters' Club around. The club is one of the best organisation around and it is very cost-effective to improve your public speaking and leadership skills.