How a Bottle of Wine Can Help Your Public Speaking!
This is possibly the only time you will be told that uncorking that bottle of wine may improve your public speaking. The suggestion goes as far as uncorking the bottle - not drinking its contents. Leave that for after you've sat down.
Good speakers need to be both heard and understood. Being heard is a question of volume and being understood concerns articulation - and a wine bottle cork (or similar sized object) can help you with the latter.
The key to being understood is clear enunciation of consonants and pronouncing vowel sounds for long enough so that people’s ears can tune in to your accent. This is particularly important if you’re speaking a language that isn't the native language of your audience.
The important principle is that vowels carry the sound, while the consonants make the words. The consonants chop up the stream of vowel sounds into individual words. If the consonants are missing, vowel sounds can merge into each other and individual words can become difficult to distinguish.
When speaking people instinctively rely on their jaw muscles to do the 'heavy lifting' in terms of speech production. The jaw muscles are (by far) the strongest facial muscles and having them do most of the work is simply more efficient. However, this can also lead to poor articulation, as the smaller muscles (lips, tongue, etc) take a back seat and enjoy a free ride. This next exercise fixes this problem.
Lightly grip the last couple of millimetres of a wine bottle cork (or similar) between your teeth and push your lips forward. Keeping the cork between your teeth, read aloud from a newspaper, magazine or book. The action of gripping the cork means the jaw muscles cannot be responsible for producing sound. It's quite possible to speak clearly like this - albeit slower than normal - provided you make good use of all your additional facial muscles. Having spoken aloud for a couple of minutes, remove the cork and you'll find your voice is sharper sounding, much clearer and more easily understood.
If you have an important speech, presentation or interview coming try doing this exercise 10-15 minutes before.
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