I’m taking a Rhetoric class to improve my public speaking skills, despite – or more because of – the fact that I really do not like public speaking. Call it exposure therapy: the more speeches I make, in front of a group where I’m not afraid to fail, whose judgment I trust, the easier it will get and the better I will do. After my first speech I started crying, and now I don’t even get adrenalized! This is progress.
One of the first activities we worked on in the class was elocution. These are exercises to stretch and work out the muscles in your tongue and face by saying difficult phrases repeatedly and very accurately. No pronouncing “milk” like “melk”, or saying “runnin'”! The issue is that when you are just starting the exercises, it’s very hard to hear the mistakes you’re making. It helps to have someone else around to point out all the errors (and yes, there will be a lot of them…).
Here is a list of the exercises I’ve used. Several people have noticed a difference in the way I speak since starting this practice, so it clearly has an effect. Plus, many of them are just fun to say!
A – Around the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran.
B – Big black bug bit a big black bear and the big black bear bled black blood.
C – Can I cook a proper cup of coffee in a copper coffee pot?
D – Don’t doubt the doorbell, but differ with the doorknob.
E – Eight gray geese in a green field grazing.
F – Fine white vinegar with veal.
The free thugs set three thugs free.
G – Grab the groundhog from the glazed grass.
Grey geese in a green field grazing.
H – High roller, low roller, lower roller.
How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
I – Inexplicably mimicking him hiccupping.
I wish to wash my Irish wristwatch
J – Jingle jungle jangle joker.
K – Knit kilts for nasty cold nights.
L – Little lucky luke likes lakes, lucky little luke likes licking lakes
M – Monkeys make monopoly monotonous.
N – The Next nest will not necessarily be next to nothing.
O – Octopi occupy a porcupine’s mind.
Only royal oily royal oil boils
P – Peter Prangle, the prickly pear picker, picked three perfectly prickly pears.
A proper copper coffee pot.
Q – Queen Catherine wakes the cat, and the cat quietly cries.
R – Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers!
Roberta ran rings around the Roman ruins.
S – Some shun sunshine. Do you shun sunshine?
Six stick shifts stuck shut.
T – Three thick thistle sticks.
The thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.
U – Unique New York, Unique New York, Unique New York.
V – Venti, Grande, Tall – Very Grand Words for Large, Medium, Small.
W – Will’s wetsuit is round and wet and rough and wide and ready to go on a watery ride.
Wayne went to Wales to watch walruses.
X – Xylophones exist or so existentialists insist.
Y – Yoda met a Yeti on the Plains of Serengeti.
Z – Zoologists illogically love to read astrology.