General Question

goose756's avatar

How can I stop mumbling?

Asked by goose756 (655points) June 13th, 2011

Growing up you’re generally told that no question is a stupid question, and that it is actually good to ask questions. I tended to either ask apparently dumb question and/or get made fun of or called dumb or something because of the questions I asked.

Since then, I began mumbling – mostly when asking a question. I think its because I feel like it’s a stupid question and I just don’t want to hear how dumb it is, but when I do this it just causes me more embarrassment because then people can’t hear me and ask me to repeat myself multiple times.

Any tips on how can I stop doing this? :(

FYI – I am now in my twenties and working full-time, if it matters.

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13 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Practice makes perfect!

Being an extrovert I have never had anxiety about speaking up, even though we all can feel rather ‘on the spot’ at times.

There’s a saying about ‘faking it til you make it’, I think it originated in alcohol recovery groups or some such thing, but, there is truth in that.

Whomever you are speaking to will not know the difference if you make eye contact and speak up clearly and firmly about…whatever.

Maybe practice with a close friend, have them ask you random questions and practice eye contact, level gaze, and firm projection.

Good luck!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Join The Toastmasters, practice speaking and learning as you go.

everephebe's avatar

What did you say? Speak up.
Go watch The Kings Speech.

You matter, you have a right to speak. Most people think they have a dumb question and don’t ask it, but the brave folks ask the stupid questions and those other folks are relieved it wasn’t them. Fuck the people who laugh. Act deep when you ask the question, people will gather there is subtext to your question.

marinelife's avatar

Practice asking questions speaking slowly. Imagine that there is a period between each word.

sarahtalkpretty's avatar

Everyone spends their lives trying to cover up their own imperfections. Just because someone is a smooth talker and seems to always have the right answer doesn’t make them better than you. Maybe you don’t see their failings but their friends and family do. Sometimes you just have to be an actor and speak your words because they need to be spoken. It has helped me in the past to pretend to be acting. If words don’t come easily, smile more and use body language to help the conversation along. Practice speaking in a mirror. Try standing up straight and making lots of eye contact. If you mess up you can always correct yourself. I correct myself all the time – if someone doesn’t like that, oh well! :)

Hibernate's avatar

Just try to stop yourself.
When you get the impulse to start moving your lips keep them together.

Indeed practice makes it perfect. You gotta teach yourself to behave.

Plucky's avatar

Throughout my life, I have been told I mumble. My sister used to call me Mumbelina. My extremely quiet voice did not help.

I was in speech therapy for a while. Something that helped me learn to speak louder and clearer was recording my own voice. I would record my voice while talking in session and at home with others. I would then play back what was recorded. I’d hear what others heard. I had a difficult time hearing myself, even when turning the volume up high. It made me realize just how quiet and incoherent I was to others (and compared to others). Over time, it helped me a lot with the volume of my voice.

The other method I used, which helped me speak clearer, was the mirror. I would stare at the mirror and watch my mouth move as I said words and sentences. If my mouth was not expressive enough, my words were not as clear. The more I exagerated the movements of my lips and tongue, with the words, the clearer I became. I don’t like to be noticed my lips would usually not move much when I talked. This helped me see what I looked like when speaking more clearly. It helped me become more accustomed to it as well.

If you can, seeing a speech/language pathologist really helps. The two methods above really improved my mumbling. Granted, my voice is still quiet and usually monotone ..but the clarity and volume has improved enough to help me interact in society. I still get the frequent “Pardon Me?” ..“Can you speak louder?” ..etc. It helps me learn ..and the person usually hears/understands me the second time.

I hope you find the answers useful.

_zen_'s avatar


Bellatrix's avatar

All of the above, but definitely look at something like Toastmasters as @Tropical_Willie suggested. The more comfortable you become with speaking publicly, the better it will get. I know you aren’t asking about speaking publicly, but the thing that is holding you back, is the same fear many people who fear speaking publicly feel. It is all about ego. You have to try to take the ego out of it and just focus on your message. The question you are asking. If other’s don’t like your question or view it as dumb, that’s their problem.

You know the truth is, if you have a question the chances are someone else has the same question but wasn’t brave enough to ask it. Good luck.

ninjacolin's avatar

Here’s your prescription: Try to get people to tell you you’re too loud. 3 or 4 times a day for a month. That’s your goal. After the first month, switch to a Weekly goal of 3 – 4 loudness complaints.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Build up your self esteem & your self confidence. Stick with friends and family that build you up and don’t allow anyone to knock you down. That way you’ll feel you can ask the question.

Next, practice in the mirror. Watch the shape of your lips when you are talking. Know how far you usually open your mouth. For a while, when you are asking questions you are going to have to think about your mouth shape and your body language.

If you have a great friend or supportive family member, ask them for help. My husband was a mumbler. He has worked on this skill so well that it is now rare that he ever does it.

seperate_reality's avatar

When you catch yourself mumbling, intentionally start mumbling. I know it sounds strange, but it works after awhile.

Nimis's avatar

Two part problem.

One: you need more practice asking questions to be able to distinguish between good and not-so-good ones. Two: you need more practice getting used to nice and not-so-nice responses. (Even good questions get lame-ass responses.)

Luckily for you, Fluther’s just the right place to do just that.

Fire away, ol’ chap.
Just don’t get disheartened if your questions get modded. Think of the moderators as your Toastmaster mentors. ;)

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