I like finding easier ways of doing old things. If there is a novel way of getting something done, I'll try that too.
Have you ever found yourself speaking to someone while wearing a facemask? Whether at a supermarket counter, at a meeting, in a gym, on the road in a car, or even at home with guests, it is easy to get frustrated by the communication difficulties that come with masked conversations.
Often, you might have to repeat what you just said or ask others to do the same. In some cases, this can result in miscommunications or misunderstandings. In this article, we explore why masked communication is difficult and how we can communicate more clearly while speaking with a mask on.
Why Is Speaking Through a Face Mask More Difficult?
- The airflow that you create when you speak is filtered through the layers of the mask you're wearing. This results in the muffling and dampening of your voice. As a result, both the volume and clarity of your words are affected. This effect is most prominent when you speak through a think mask (like an N95) and less prominent when you speak through a thin mask.
- Your lips may touch your mask's inner surface when you speak. This affects the pronunciation of some words and decreases the clarity of your speech.
- You may open your mouth less when you are wearing a mask. This can cause your words to sound more mumbled than you realize and may also affect the volume of your speech.
- You may breathe somewhat differently when you use a face mask. You may also get a little more breathless when speaking and breathing through a mask. This can cause problems if you need to speak for a substantial amount of time.
- When you wear a mask, much of your face is covered, so your facial expressions are not clear. Expressions play a very important role in communication, so with a masked face, your communication is less effective
- The discomfort and ticklishness of your mask may affect the way you speak and express yourself in conversations and speeches.
How to Speak and Be Heard Clearly While Wearing a Face Mask
- Use a mask that is suitable for the occasion. A cloth mask may sound better, but it is not the safest. An N95 mask is more appropriate if you are in a healthcare facility, but if you are giving a speech to a crowd from a podium, a thinner mask may allow you to be heard more clearly.
- Free your lips and nostrils by choosing a mask that is shaped in such a way that it doesn't pinch your nose, is away from your nostrils, and doesn't touch your lips. Duck-shaped masks and some N95s are good for this.
- Secure your mask correctly. A gentle nose clip helps to ensure that your mask is not pinching hard and can be secured correctly in a position that is comfortable. Choose between ear loops and head loops. I find head loops more comfortable. Get a mask with an adjustable band so that you can adjust and secure it for your comfort.
- Make sure the inner surface of your mask is clean, does not have loose fibers of cloth, and does not smell bad. This will reduce the chance of irritation, tickling, and annoyance as you speak
- Throw or project your voice! This involves speaking from your chest/tummy and ensuring you throw your voice rather than speaking it from the throat, mouth, and lips. This may sound like a vague tip, and it does require a little practice. It does not involve shouting or screaming. Watch the video toward the end of this article to learn more about mastering this technique.
- Make a conscious effort to speak slowly, open your mouth, and pronounce your words clearly. This will greatly enhance the clarity of your speech.
- Make eye contact and use facial expressions well. As facial expressions are hidden by the mask, eye contact and exaggerated expressions may help you communicate better.
- Use gestures appropriately. You don't need to jump and wave your hands all around, but a good mix of head movements hand gestures can help accentuate what you're saying. Use gestures that are appropriate for the setting you are speaking in.
- Use the right visual aids. If you are addressing a group, presentation slides, blackboards, and pictures will help your audience stay focused and understand what you're saying.
How to Throw and Project Your Voice
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 BenjiRoss