Is your speech impediment impeding your business?
Is stumbling over your words causing you to stumble in business? Being a good speaker allows you to effectively communicate your ideas and build strong relationships. The better and more persuasive your communication is, the faster your business can grow.
But for small business owners with a speech disorder, communication is anything but easy. A public speaker needs the right volume, voice pitch, speaking rate, articulation, and ability to pronounce words properly. Here’s how you can manage and overcome a speech impediment.
1. Slow your breathing
A fluency disorder affects the flow of your speech. This could be in form of stuttering i.e. saying words or syllables more than once. It could also be cluttering i.e. speaking faster than normal and jamming words together.
You can improve rapid speech and stuttering through slower breathing. This will help you calm down and also reduce your disorganized speech. When your breathing matches the rhythm of your speech, you’ll sound better.
Speech anxiety may also arise when you have to address a group of people. Symptoms of speech anxiety include: sweating, shaking, squeaky voice, rapid heartbeat, etc. You can reduce anxiety by taking really deep breaths.
2. Relax your jaw
Feeling tense every time you need to speak will cause your jaw to tense up and your lips to tighten. And a tight jaw tends to affect the rest of our oral functioning. Breathing slower can help to relax your jaw and other oral muscles.
There are simple jaw exercises to try. For example, a face massage helps to release tension in the muscles surrounding your jaw. Opening and closing your mouth a couple of times also helps to practice moving your jaw.
When your jaw is relaxed, you’d find it easier to produce sound clearly and effortlessly. To speak with ease, you should be able to open and close your mouth without strain or tension in your jaw, throat or neck muscles.
3. Work with a speech-language therapist
The best way to correct a speech disorder is to seek professional help. For example, King George VI of England was embarrassed about his stutter. But he managed to overcome it with the help of a speech therapist.
Speech-language pathologists are specialists who assess, diagnose and provide treatment for communication disorders. Working with a qualified speech therapist can provide you with techniques and tools to improve your speech.
A good speech-language pathologist should have at least a bachelor’s or Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in communication sciences and disorders. They also need to have enough experience treating clients with similar needs.
4. Avoid vocal fillers
When struggling with speech, even people who don’t have a speech disorder inadvertently resort to vocal fillers. If you often use words like “um”, “uh”, “like”, “okay” and “you know”, you need to consciously avoid them.
Vocal fillers may not seem like a huge problem but eliminating them helps to improve the clarity of your speech. You’ll be able to easily communicate your ideas or thoughts and the audience will also find it easier to listen to you.
You can reduce fillers in your speech by speaking slowly. This will help your speech catch up with your thoughts so you won’t have to resort to vocal fillers. You can also prepare and practice your speech beforehand.
5. Hire a voice coach
Public speaking is particularly scary for people with speech disorders. But a voice coach can help you communicate effectively. You’ll learn how to control and project your voice so that you have a better command of an audience.
When expressing yourself, a few things to consider are your tone of voice, body language, gestures and facial expressions. All these affect how the audience receives and understands your message.
A voice coach can help you overcome voice problems and become a better public speaker. You can choose to work with a general voice trainer or an executive voice coach who works with business or corporate professionals.
6. Don’t be ashamed of your speech impediment
Many people are embarrassed by their speech impediment and try to hide it. Rather, you shouldn’t be afraid to open up about it. You may be surprised by how many respond positively to you once they’re aware of it.
You need to also say no to avoidance and learn to manage or overcome your communication disorder. This means that you shouldn’t be afraid to socialize, give more public speeches and attend more business meetings.
It’s also a great idea to connect with others who are facing similar challenges. You won’t feel so alone and you’d be inspired to embrace yours. This can help you discover what works best for your situation.