The great Greek orator and statesman Demosthenes once got rid of his speech impediments by reciting verses while his mouth was full of pebbles. It may sound like a good idea, but you wouldn’t want to choke on small rocks just to get rid of a stutter or a stammer (Tips on how to get rid of a stutter).
Some people feel insecure about their speech impediments, whether it’s a lisp or an inability to pronounce words properly. For public speakers, proper speech is important to impress the audience with a confident and persuasive tone. Proper speech is essential for business transactions, public performances, and even in everyday life. You can get rid of your speech impediment with a few speech-training practices and some major confidence-boosters.
Causes of Speech Impediments
Almost everyone has a speech impediment. Stuttering, lisps, and cluttered sentences are all very common. Here are some causes of speech impediments:
- Physical deformities: Cleft palate was a major cause of speech impediments, until surgery became affordable for people afflicted with it. Another cause of speech impediments is malocclusion, or when the teeth do not have the proper normal bite. Malocclusions are usually corrected through braces, although orthodontic surgery is necessary in some cases. Neurological disorders caused by accidents or brain and nerve tumors can cause a speech disorder called dysprosody.
- Learning disabilities: Dyslexia and mental retardation can prevent a person from learning how to speak properly. Children who suffer from autism or other learning disabilities often have speech impediments, although they can be overcome through speech therapy.
- Emotional problems: People who suffer from traumatic experiences often develop speech problems like stammering and stuttering. A death in the family, an accident, or a crime can often affect the ability of a person to speak clearly. Child abuse is also a major cause of speech impediments.
Some speech impediments are permanent, especially when caused by neurological disorders. Most of the time, a speech impediment is often found in people who were not taught how to speak clearly and communicate effectively. If your child is not taught proper speech practices at school, chances are he or she would develop a speech impediment. Proper speech is important to maintain high self-esteem and self-confidence.
Now that you know some causes of speech impediments, here are some ways to get rid of them and to welcome proper and confident speaking.
Learn to Speak Correctly
There’s no substitute for learning when it comes to the proper and effective use of language. Practice makes perfect, and this holds true for speaking. Take every opportunity to speak to practice and brush up on correct pronunciation and enunciation.. The more chances you have to speak publicly, the more chances you get to practice.
A good way to help yourself speak correctly is to buy books on spoken English and speech-drill tapes. Allot two to three hours each day to practice how to pronounce words properly. Take down notes of words and sentences that you find difficult or tricky to pronounce. Record your practice sessions on a hand-held voice recorder, or through a microphone connected to a stereo set or boom box. Practicing correct pronunciation, enunciation and diction may sound like a lot of hard work, but all the dedication does pay off.
Another way to improve your pronunciation and speech is to get a hold of some inspirational speeches from a college English textbook, and read them aloud. In time, you may even develop your public speaking skills.
Take Your Time
Speaking slowly may be frowned upon by some people because it sounds like they “talk stupid,” but slow and careful speaking is a very effective and persuasive way to communicate. You don’t have to speak very slowly; you need to speak in a pace that’s comfortable for you and your audience. A steady pace is better than speaking in a fast pace, especially if you want to send the intended meaning of your message across.
Another reason why some people develop speech impediments is that they don’t take the opportunity to talk or to express themselves in public. The more you keep quiet and stay reserved, the more you would develop speech impediments like stammering, stuttering, or cluttered speech. Take every opportunity you can to talk, without being a talkative blabbermouth.
Braces for Good Graces
If you have misaligned teeth, you probably have difficulty pronouncing some words because of a lisp. Most malocclusions are corrected through braces. Braces pull, push, and adjust individual teeth to correct your bite. Kids and teenagers don’t like to wear braces because they’re often teased as “metal mouths” or “railroad faces.” The fact is that braces are still the best way to correct a lisp caused by misaligned teeth (Tips on how to get rid of a lisp).
The problem with braces is that they often cause a speech impediment, especially when the springs, bands and wires of a set of braces are adjusted every month. Every time the dentist adjusts your braces (or even dentures), you need to train yourself to talk and to eat properly. It may be quite painful at first, but remember not to go too far that you may end up with a mouth injury.
Most braces are used for orthodontic purposes, although some braces can be used as decorations. Braces are rather expensive, and you may need to take out a dental plan or cash in on dental insurance to pay for them.
Maintain Proper Posture
Most speech impediments are caused by problems in the mouth, but some impediments like stuttering and stammering are caused by bad posture. If you keep your back bent and hunch your shoulders over, you don’t allow enough air to exert pressure on your diaphragm or pass through your larynx (voice box). The best public speakers and orators often maintain proper speaking posture:
- Stomach in
- Chest out
- Shoulders relaxed
- Back straight
- Feet steady.
Proper posture may seem too formal, but it is essential for correct pronunciation and diction. The proper standing and sitting posture means that you draw your voice not directly from the larynx, but from the diaphragm. You also relieve pressure on your larynx by relaxing your shoulders, which means that you would talk in your natural pitch. If you keep your feet flat and steady, you also give yourself a very stable vertical base to support your body when you talk.
Another great advantage to proper posture is that you look and feel good whenever you’re speaking, whether it’s a formal speaking engagement or a chat over lunch. Proper posture boosts your confidence, and tells people that you know what you’re talking about.
Try Speech Therapy
Psychologists and speech therapists can help you overcome your speech impediments if they are caused by emotional distress or learning disabilities. Speech therapy is very useful if you need to break out of your silence, and to talk about your problems, your frustrations, or your own personal tragedy.
Speech therapy is also very helpful for correcting your impediment; the therapist will point out the part of speech where you’re having problems, and will work with you to correct it. Private speech therapy sessions do not come cheap, although you can take out money from your personal health insurance policy if your coverage application allows it.
You don’t need to chew and garble on rocks like Demosthenes did to remove a speech impediment. With practice and dedication, you can get rid of a speech impediment and welcome confidence and eloquence into daily conversation. If you enjoy reading this article, you might as well read how to speak to a large group of people.
Click here for more information on how to get rid of a speech impediment.