Have you got marbles in your mouth?

Mumbling may not be a serious medical condition, but it can still have serious effects. Mumbling makes it more difficult for people to interact with us socially, and it can make professional or educational experiences such as public speaking much more difficult.

Dysarthria occurs when the muscles you use for speech are weak or you have difficulty controlling them. Dysarthria often causes slurred or slow speech that can be difficult to understand. Common causes of dysarthria include nervous system disorders and conditions that cause facial paralysis or tongue or throat muscle weakness. Certain medications also can cause dysarthria. Treating the underlying cause of your dysarthria may improve your speech.

You may also need speech therapy. For dysarthria caused by prescription medications, changing or discontinuing the medications may help. The first and foremost reason to speak is to convey a message, and if you’re mumbling, that’s not going to happen. Over-enunciating every syllable in every word can help you get into the habit of pronouncing them properly. One way to do this is to speak phrases out to yourself.

  • Slurred speech
  • Slow speech
  • Inability to speak louder than a whisper or speaking too loudly
  • Rapid speech that is difficult to understand
  • Nasal, raspy or strained voice
  • Uneven or abnormal speech rhythm
  • Uneven speech volume
  • Monotone speech
  • Difficulty moving your tongue or facial muscles

A good phrase to use is “I never said she stole the money”. The meaning of this sentence changes depending on which word is emphasized, so repeating this while changing the emphasis is a good exercise in enunciation. While overenunciating words can help, saying random sentences lacks the structure of a normal conversation. Reading aloud has a much more natural flow, and will force you to make a conscious effort since the words are already written. Your posture has a huge effect on the clarity with which you speak.

Standing up straight and holding your head up will help your mouth and throat open up more and make your words more distinctive. If you ever speak to a non-native English speaker, they may tell you that Irish people speak very quickly. Speaking quickly is one of the main reasons people mumble, as the words run together and lose the proper inflection. So whether you’re nervous or just Irish, slowing down can help you stop mumbling.

One of the main reasons posture has such an effect on our speaking is because of our diaphragm. Standing up straight makes it easier for our diaphragm to support our lungs, which helps us speak more clearly. You can take this effect even further by making a conscious effort to support your speech with your diaphragm, and even supporting it physically with your hands by pushing up and into your stomach.

Further Reading


Spectrum Speech
Mayo Clinic

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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