One day, I asked a speech therapist who had treated me following my stroke: “Is it possible to continue progressing with diction, even after several years?” “Yes,” she answered, “but you have to do the exercises every day, and few people succeed in doing that.” She was right. It is very hard to remain consistent in practicing diction exercises. It is, however, the price to pay if one wants to progress and go beyond the comfort zone.
Following my stroke, I lost total speech. Today I can express myself more or less easily. With my friends and family, things generally go well when I use short sentences. It’s a different story with longer sentences. I am often asked to repeat and I am not sure that people understand everything I say. At the store, I often say: “I speak slowly because I had a stroke,” and people are usually more attentive. During family gatherings or in groups, I often raise my hand to speak. I don’t speak fast enough to be able to jump into conversations easily. That’s my “comfort zone” and it is a far cry from the pleasures of easy conversation.
In order to improve my comfort zone, I look for new ways of doing diction exercises. A new approach to the exercises must have the following characteristics:
A length of 10-15 minutes (to be repeated if necessary)
Include mouth exercises as well as diction exercises
Include some preparation using electronic tools
Include video support
Be easy to memorize
Have volume control
Include the ability to record
Using the electronic tablet rather than the computer helps me a lot with my exercises. It is easily accessible and can be used anywhere. With the tablet, start-up is almost instantaneous and it is easy to stop videos at any time. As well, it is possible to record exercises in order to monitor progress.
Each exercise includes a warm-up of facial gymnastics and a diction exercise using phrases. YouTube offers a great variety of exercises. Simply choose those that best suit your needs. Personally, I like to use the exercises mentioned in the section: Diction Exercises – Warm-Ups and Basic Diction Exercises
The effects of a stroke can vary greatly from one person to another. In my case, I need to work on articulation in order to improve speech fluidity. Others with different language problems may need to focus on word-finding exercises. Diction exercises are recommended for improving articulation and speech fluidity, but are more limited when it comes to word-finding problems.
The exercises available on YouTube vary greatly in terms of difficulty. It is important to choose the exercises that best suit one’s level and progression.
Once installed on iPad, using the selected diction exercises is easy with WI-FI access. Help may be needed if one is unfamiliar with the iPad.
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Vocal Warm Ups for Public Speaking : Public Speaking Prep: Smile & Frown (1:13)
Vocal Warm Ups for Public Speaking : Soft Palette Warm Up: Sing & Ah (1:23)
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Vocal Warm Ups for Public Speaking : Articulation Drill for Public Speaking: Uh & Ah (1:56)
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Personally, I like to use the iPad. In my opinion, all tablets can be used in the same manner. The final product will look something like the figures below:
Using this method is simple. Using the tablet, choose the desired video by clicking on its name and the video will start. To install it on iPad, click on the square icon at the top of the page and select the “+” sign (on the home page).
The exercise icons can be grouped under the same icon by activating the transfer icon function (click on the icon for 3 seconds)
For me, the tablet is more useful than the computer because of its mobility, versatility and ease of use.