Thursday, March 01, 2007

Mumbles and mutterings on somethin' at work

It's nearly 11 o'clock at night and I've just spent the last couple of hours working on the two new books I'm writing. Books take time to write and, on top of the day job as a coach and business psychologist, that means evenings and weekends until the end of May!

But I just found a slip of paper from when I was coaching someone who wanted to improve his impact during meetings, presentations, and even conversations. Much of the time these days, how you come across is determined as much by how you speak as what you say.

This particular person, my coachee, tended to mumble his words. He barely opened his lips and the sounds came out all... smushed.

Of course these things were not as apparent to him as they were to everyone around him.

So we used a vocal exercise to help him warm up his mouth and tongue. Very simply, it required that he repeat a set of syllables a couple of times each, pronouncing them very clearly:

  • "Puh buh" - warms up the front of the mouth and your lips;
  • "Kuh guh" - warms up the back of the mouth and the bit of your tongue nearer the throat;
  • "Tuh duh" - warms up the middle bit in between the other two, so the middle and front part of your tongue.
So if you ever want to do some vocal warm-ups before an important interview, a meeting, a presentation, try it. Simply repeat each of the phrases a handful of times each. You'll relax the muscles and your voice should come out much more clearly and confidently.