There may be a number of factors involved with speech problems in an individual, and the appropriate speech therapy would depend on these factors. Swallowing: Individuals may have swallowing difficulties which create speech problems and require speech therapy. The methods used to improve speech in this case will be determined by how severe the problem is. It could be anything from repetition to physical strengthening exercises - it all depends on what the individual requires. Learning Deficiency: Another common speech problem is caused by learning deficiencies, and these occur more often in children than in adults. When this cause is identified as the reason for the speech problem, the speech therapy methods used would include repetition and training adapted to assist the individual to overcome the obstacles faced when learning to speak correctly. Phonetics: Certain people have difficulties producing specific sounds that are necessary to communicate in a given language, such as the "r" sound and the "s" in people who lisp. Speech therapy for these individuals would be determined by how severe their deficiency is, but would usually include some kind of drilling (constant repetition) and intensive training to aid in developing the muscular movements that are necessary to produce these sounds. Chronic Diseases: Many people have speech problems related to chronic diseases such as cerebral palsy or Alzheimer's disease, or severe conditions such as a stroke or brain injuries. Children may also develop speech problems from injuries that occur during the birth process. In all of these cases the speech therapy professional would have to do various assessments to determine the cause and develop a speech enhancement program based on the individual's specific needs. Genetic Speech Problems: Speech therapy may also be needed in individuals who inherit certain speech abnormalities through their genes. These are intrinsic speech problems that may require specialized training depending on how severe the problems are. These problems can also affect many different speech-related functions and processes in the person's body, and so the speech therapist would need to clearly identify all the factors that contribute to the deficiency. This may require research into the individual's genetic background to ensure that nothing is missed and treated inaccurately. Muscle Control: For speech problems that are related to muscle control, the speech therapy will consist largely of exercises designed to assist the individual in controlling the mouth muscles, as well as those of the tongue and throat - all the muscles that are needed for effective speech. This can involve using certain items like sucker sticks or straws to target certain muscles and increase the indivdual's control over them. The important thing with these exercises is that the individual should work closely with the speech therapist for optimal results. Learning Aids: There are hundreds of methods used to combat speech problems and just as many factors that influence which methods need to be exercised in speech therapy. Many therapists resort to the use of various learning aids to speed up the processes required to overcome these difficulties. These include flash cards and clever speech games to facilitate regular practice of a certain speech obstacle,
toys and puppets to make the activities more fun for children, and various other aids that reinforce the theoretical training on a practical level. No matter which methods are used during speech therapy, the most important factor that will influence the individual's development is regular practice of methods that make the theoretical training as practicable as possible for the individual concerned.
People often wonder if there are any general speaking tips that they can use to improve their speaking skills. There are thousands of tips to improve speaking, but a few general tips can cover all of them. Think: Many people forget that thinking is the most crucial of all speaking tips - more specifically, thinking before opening your mouth to speak. By thinking before you talk, you can avoid many mistakes and pitfalls that could easily hinder the way you are received by the people you speak to. It allows you to carefully plan what you are going to say next, gives you the time to re-evaluate whether something you are about to say is appropriate to say and worth saying, and it gives you the chance to plan what you are going to say in a way that allows you to express yourself as clearly as possible. Articulate: At any time if you search for speaking tips you will find that hundreds of them are devoted to the skill of articulation. Knowing how to articulate is ninety percent of what you need to know to develop good speaking skills. Thus, when you try to improve your speaking skills, the first thing you should do is learn to articulate effectively, and everything else can be built on top of that. Articulation is nothing complicated, however, despite its importance in good speaking habits. All it means is that you should speak as clearly as possible, with the correct tone of voice and the most appropriate pitch for what you are trying to say. Pace Yourself: Good speaking tips also involve lots of intricate details about knowing how to pace yourself appropriately when you speak. If you speak too fast you will lose your audience very quickly because they will not be able to make sense of what you are saying; conversely your audience will become bored if you speak slower than is necessary. Thus, you need to strike a considerable balance so that you keep the attention of your listeners, while you allow them clarity in such a way that they are able to understand everything you are saying. Pacing also allows you to listen to yourself and evaluate what you are saying and ensure that what you are saying is what you actually intended to say. Read your Listeners: This is one of the few crucial speaking tips that are not as often emphasized as they should be, and this is due to the fact that not many people are aware of its incredible importance in good speaking habits. For you to effectively convey a message in conversation or any other speech, you need to be able to read and evaluate the people listening to you. You need to be able to pick up on their reactions to what you are saying, so that you can determine whether you need to continue, change your approach or elaborate on what you have said to ensure your message came across as intended. The majority of bad relationships are turned bad because of misunderstandings and miscommunication, and by reading and evaluating your listeners, you can ensure that this will not happen when you speak. You need to remember that to be effective, these speaking tips should not be applied in isolation, but should be used as a collaborative whole to ensure the best results.
If you want to acquire speaking skills, you need to teach yourself to employ good speaking habits at all times, whether you speak casually or formally. Um: Filling gaps in your speaking with words like "um" and "er" or the combination "erm" is a very bad habit that many people are guilty of when speaking. They use these non-words to give them time to formulate the next part of their sentences - give them time to think about what they want to say next. There are two speaking skills that you can employ to overcome this problem. Firstly, think before you speak. This should be the number one rule when trying to find good speaking habits. Secondly, slow down - people often have to use these gap-fillers because they try and speak too fast - faster than their brains can process what they want to say. Courtesy: One of the hardest speaking skills for many people to learn is the ability to interject at appropriate times when somebody else is speaking. This involves many factors. You need to be able to read the other person, and listen attentively to ensure that you do not miss any important cues. For example, it is important that you listen so that when somebody stops speaking to allow you to acknowledge what they have said, you are able to respond appropriately. You also need to learn this skill so that you do not interrupt the speaker when it is not appropriate to do so. Indeed, sometimes it is good to interrupt someone, but you need to learn when it is appropriate and when it is not. Pitch: Learning the appropriate ways to adjust your pitch at specific points during your speech is one of the most vital speaking skills you will come across. Many people make the mistake of raising their pitch at the end of their sentences, losing credibility as they do so. You pitch needs to alter slightly at frequent points as you speak, as this will prevent a monotonous sound that bores your listeners. However, you cannot speak with large and abrupt variations in pitch, as this could have adverse effects on your listeners and on the impact of what you are trying to say. For instance, if you are trying to issue a command but your pitch goes up in the way that it would when telling a funny joke, your command will come across as silly and nobody will take you seriously. Apologizing: Some people feel the need to apologize as they begin to speak. Many people have probably made this mistake at some point in their lives, saying things like "Sorry if I'm wrong..." or in some way taking the credibility out of what they want to say before they have even said it. This is a defense mechanism that is not at all a good speaking habit, and one of the most important speaking skills is learning to avoid this bad habit when speaking. Your opinion is something that belongs to you and something that is unique to everyone, and for this there should be no need for you to apologize. Do not apologize, assert yourself, but do not be overly assertive, and you will earn the respect of those listening to you. There are so many good speaking habits and just as many bad ones, and it is up to you to decide whether you will take the time to hone your speaking skills to employ good habits or contribute to the increasing number of people who have bad speaking habits.