HOW to correctly SPEAK when WEARING a Face MASK

 In Delivery, Facial expression, Listening, Meetings, News, The Winning Voice, Virtual communication, Voice

As you know you when you talk while wearing a face mask, your speech can be difficult to understand.

Here are techniques for speakers and listeners, for communicating in a face mask wearing world.


#1 Use the ‘a metre beyond’ technique. As your voice will be muffled by a mask, one way to combat this effect is to use the ‘a metre beyond’ technique. Let me explain. Imagine that your voice is a laser and you put all of its energy through the laser directing it a metre beyond your listener. This technique will make it easier for others to hear your voice.

#2 Pronounce the final consonants and final consonant clusters (two consonants together) in words louder and more distinctly – while maintaining your normal speaking cadence. For example, say baNK not bank; riSK, not risk; projeCT, not project; investmeNT, not investment; accouNTS, not accounts.

#3 Use tag questions to confirm understanding. To confirm listeners have understood you, make liberal use of tag questions at the end of your sentences. Tag questions include: Are you with me? Am I making sense? Is this clear?  To get ‘acceptance’ for the use of tag questions, you can forewarn the audience that you’ll be using these questions, with the intent of clear communication in mind.

#4 Use pause gaps to gauge understanding. Intermittently use a one to two second pause gap after you’ve finished a sentence/number of sentences, to observe the listener(s) (their eyes, forehead, body language) to gauge understanding or confusion. Incidentally, one sign of tension or worry is a creased forehead.


#1 If you can’t understand a speaker, give a visual signal to flag your lack of understanding. Raising your arm with an open palm can be a way of getting the speaker’s attention. Then ask them to repeat what they have said.

#2 DBAE (Don’t Be Anywhere Else). Picture these letters on the speaker’s forehead to help you to, Not daydream.


My current suggestions* for when to remove your mask are these.

When you are in a One-on-One or Group interaction (for example when in a meeting room) where social distance is maintained, you can remove your face mask if your feel comfortable doing so.

Be sensitive to how other people feel about mask wearing. This sensitivity may result in some people wearing masks and some people not wearing masks.

(*A caveat: As of this publication date, these when to wear/not mask suggestions, have not been approved by a government authority).

Own the Conversation

Which of the above techniques resonated the most?

Over the next seven days aim to practice the resonated technique at least once every day – and then reflect on its impact.


p.s. here is a post on How to handle a glass half-empty colleague



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