Improving your speech or reducing your accent takes a lot of self-awareness… it requires listening to yourself and regular practice in order to improve. But today I’m going to ask you to be aware of something other than the sound of your voice. I’d like you to be aware of your body’s stress.
Since April is Stress Awareness Month, I’d like you to take time this month to notice where you hold stress and tension in your body, as this greatly affects the muscles that control your speech and pronunciation. Let’s take a look at a few exercises that will help you relieve speech muscle tension.
Shoulders and Neck
Controlling your speech begins further down than your tongue and cheek muscles. It starts in the shoulders and neck, a place where many of us carry stress and tension.
Cheek and Jaw
Many of us clench our teeth or tighten our cheek muscles when stressed. Try to be aware of this, and try the following exercise when you notice yourself doing this.
Be sure to follow through by massaging all the way up into your cheekbone.
Now… hopefully I’m not boring you, but I want you to give a big yawn!
These exercises can help you reduce your tension, to help reduce your accent and be understood!
However, no one will be perfectly understood all the time… and missteps with your speech and accent can be a great source of stress if you’ve been trying to improve. In my video below, I’d like to encourage you with some helpful things to remember for the times when you are misunderstood. I made this video a couple of years ago, but the suggestions in it are timeless.
If this video and article helped you, or if you’d like more information on accent reduction, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.