The Importance of Articulation

Articulation is defined as the formation of clear and distinct sounds in speech. Unless you’re still speaking with the Transatlantic accent of the 30s and 40s, there’s a very good chance you do not articulate your words flawlessly. And that’s okay! Everyday speech has become very lax and casual – it’s not out of the ordinary to use slang words and misarticulate phrases like want to (wanna) or don’t know (dunno). However, articulation is incredibly important during a speech delivery. I always try to remind my students that their speeches don’t come with subtitles. An audience doesn’t have a pause button. They cannot rewind and play back a speech for clarity. That’s why it’s so important to articulate every word as clearly as possible – your voice is the channel for your message. If your audience cannot understand you, your message gets lost. Similarly, I tell my students to speak as if every person in the audience is a non-native English speaker. While native English speakers could grasp a poorly articulated let me (lemme), a non-native English speaker may not be able to comprehend what “lemme” means in English.

Here’s a little exercise that exemplifies the importance of articulation. Take out a pen and paper and listen to Post Malone’s song Rich & Sad. Try to write down the song’s lyrics word-for-word, particularly of the first verse and hook. When you’ve finished writing down the lyrics, read the official Genius lyrics. How far off were you? (Comment below!) I guarantee that before reading the actual lyrics you did not understand everything Post Malone was saying, and you probably didn’t fully grasp the message of Rich & Sad. From the title you can gauge that Post Malone is rich and sad, but after reading the lyrics, you can tell the song is a sad, love song about Post Malone losing his lover despite having so much money, something I didn’t fully realize until I read the lyrics. Since live speeches don’t come with transcripts, it’s important to not articulate like Post Malone, and form the clearest sounds possible.

Take a listen to a summary of this post – I articulate my words clearly and distinctly.
Post Malone 2018” by Toglenn is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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