Vocal articulation can be improved by performing voice exercises such as tongue twisters, humming, yawning, and tongue rolls. Exaggerating mimics, over-articulation and self-recording will help to further develop an articulate voice.
Repeat tongue twisters to improve your pronunciation
Tongue twisters are great for improving pronunciation. They are hard to pronounce combinations of words; if you can handle them at ease, standard sentences will be easy as well.
To make the most use of this exercise, continue repeating the same tongue twister as fast as possible. Soon you should start feeling your mouth muscles getting tired.
This is a sign you are improving so keep up the pace.
There are a ton of tongue twisters you can find on the internet; I will list a bunch here:
- How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
- I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream
- If two witches would watch two watches, which witch would watch which watch?
- I wish to wish the wish you wish to wish, but if you wish the wish the witch wishes, I won’t wish the wish you wish to wish
- Pink lorry, yellow lorry
- Susie works in a shoeshine shop. Where she shines, she sits, and where she sits, she shines
- Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?
- Red leather, yellow leather, red leather, yellow leather
- Selfish shellfish
If you struggle to pronounce particular letters you can look for specific tongue twisters that will involve those letters.
I am sure if needed you can find a lot more tongue twisters on your own.
Try humming to remove unwanted vocal qualities
Humming is a fantastic exercise to train your voice to be a more pleasant sounding. It helps to remove nasal qualities from the voice and adds some articulation and warmth to it.
Also, humming is one of the better warm-up exercises before starting recording. It is excellent because humming doesn’t damage your vocal cords like some of the rougher exercises.
To perform the exercise simply make a long “hmmmmmmm” sound.
You can try practicing humming in both higher and lower frequencies. For clarity in higher frequencies, you will be aiming to make “hmm?” sound as if you misheard someone and wanted them to repeat what they said. You should feel sound resonating in your face area.
For training clarity in lower frequencies, you can try making ‘Ohmm” sound instead, which pushes our voices to sound naturally lower. Or you could imagine yourself thinking about something and creating “hmmm….” sound.
When humming in lower frequencies, you should feel your voice resonating more towards the throat or even at the chest level.
Yawn to relax your mouth muscles
Yawning is excellent for relaxing all tiny muscles in the mouth and face regions. Your voice could sound inarticulate because your muscles are not relaxed and limit your mouth movements.
Try yawning to solve the issue. It is especially useful right before starting to record. You will hear some improvement right away.
You may not naturally want to yawn; if so, just yawn unnaturally, it will still help to stretch your face muscles.
Exaggerate mimics to stretch face muscles
Similarly to yawning, exaggerating mimics is excellent for articulation. And if yawning doesn’t appear naturally, making various mimics might stretch some odd muscles that you never use, and the action often induces yawning.
Try making funny, angry, and sad faces to stretch all the muscles in the face. Usually, I end up yawning in the middle of this exercise.
Perform tongue exercises to improve vocal clarity
As mouth muscles begin to tire we tend to slur more. Performing tongue exercises will help to strengthen mouth muscles and help to maintain clarity in your voice.
All you need to do is use your tongue to create ‘Rrrrr’ sound.
Try moving your tongue from the front of your mouth more towards the throat to provide a deeper sound and vice versa for higher-pitched sound.
Pushing the roof of your mouth with a tongue will help to stretch and strengthen your mouth and tongue muscles.
Push the tongue against the roof of your mouth as hard as you can. At first, you will get quickly tired, but after a few weeks of doing the exercise, you will notice that exercise has become much easier to perform.
For better effect, you can try pushing the tongue against your front and side teeth, as well as pushing your teeth inwards.
The exercise will strengthen your mouth muscles and make it easier for you to stay more relaxed during recording, which will help you sound more articulate.
Try drawing circles inside your mouth using a tongue. This exercise will help you to stretch and strengthen your mouth muscles, just like the other tongue exercises.
A variety of exercises will help you to train more muscles in your mouth, which is essential for proper articulation and clarity.
Repeat difficult syllables to articulate them better
This is a good exercise to practice clarity and articulating certain syllables.
Besides, it will help you with breathing issues. If you struggle breathing while recording, try doing the exercise as fast as possible until breathing becomes an unconscious effort.
By the way, for more tips regarding breathing problems, you can read this article on how to avoid breathing noise when recording.
To perform the exercise repeat these syllables as fast as possible
- Bah dah gah pah dah gah
- Boh doh goh poh doh goh
- Boo doo goo poo doo goo
- Bee dee gee pee dee gee
- Bay day gay pay day gay
- Ma na la ha va za
- Mo no lo ho vo zo
- Moo noo loo hoo voo zoo
- Mee nee lee hee vee zee
- May nay lay hay way zay
It doesn’t have to be a pencil. Any prop you can place between your teeth will work, but you want to make sure that you won’t accidentally swallow it.
Look for something non slippery and harder to swallow.
The exercise requires to speak or even better perform tongue twisters or the previous syllable exercise while biting on a pencil.
Biting on a pencil will make it harder for you to articulate clearly. If you can manage to articulate and do exercises with the pencil between your teeth, speaking without it will be easy.
Practice articulation before recording
This is a quick trick you can apply to immediately improve your articulation and voice clarity.
Before you start recording any text or script, read it once for yourself. When you do, read it slow and focus on clarity and articulation. Try to articulate each word as clearly as possible; how silly it sounds doesn’t matter.
After that, you can start recording while reading the script as you normally would.
You will notice that because you read it the first time focusing solely on clarity and articulation, the second time you read it, you will sound more articulate without consciously focusing on it.
Record yourself to track your progress
Recording yourself will help you to hear what kind of sounds you can’t articulate well.
You can try recording yourself doing a ton of different tongue twisters. Make a notice of which tongue twisters are the hardest to pronounce. Once you have a list, you can work on them.
For example, I always found it hard to mix words that end with ‘sh’ and start with ‘s.’
To fix the problem I like to use ‘Where she shines, she sits, and where she sits, she shines’ tongue twister, of which ‘she sits, she shines’ part always gets me.
Meet a speech therapist
Probably the fastest solution to deal with bad articulation is seeing a speech therapist. A speech therapist will be immediately able to pinpoint specific articulation issues you have and offer an appropriate solution plan.
Usually, reaching a speech therapist shouldn’t be necessary, and you should improve a lot by doing the exercises mentioned above. However, in severe cases seeing the therapist could be the best option. Obviously, speech therapists will cost money, so I would try typical methods at first and see if I could improve that way.