Excelling as a storyteller requires many skills. Of course, the ability to craft a story that engages and enchants the audience is primary. But to be a truly powerful storyteller, delivery is central.

Actors, singers, public speakers, politicians, and storytellers all use tongue twisters to improve their pronunciation, fluency, and vocal dexterity. Practicing these short, snappy sentences can even help storytellers and Toastmasters deal with those pesky mouth clicks, sharp S sibilance sounds, and plosive pops when pronouncing T, P, K, D, G, or B.

Perhaps best of all, tongue twisters help develop clear articulation. Articulation is the formation of clear vocal expression and distinct sounds which can be varied with tone, volume, pitch, and quality. All of this, of course, creates a more professional and exciting storytelling experience for your audience.

When doing tongue twisters, you don’t need to be fast. Start off slowly and aim for clarity. Build up speed as you master each one. Proficiency will bring confidence in your speaking. And then, when you’re ready to speak publicly, use tongue twisters before your performance to prepare and warm up your voice.

Below is a selection of classic tongue twisters to try. Try each one 8 times, perfecting and speeding up as you go. Some are quite challenging, but they are all beneficial. Have fun!

  • Red leather, yellow leather
  • Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?
  • She sells seashells by the seashore, and the shells she sells are seashells.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
  • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  • You know New York, you need New York, you know you need unique New York.
  • Friday’s five fresh fish specials
  • Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy, was he?
  • Rubber baby buggy bumpers
  • Nine nice night nurses nursing nicely
  • Thin sticks, thick bricks
  • If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose?
  • Amidst the mists and fiercest frosts / With barest wrists and stoutest boats / He thrusts his fists against the post / And still insists he sees the ghosts.

And finally, just for fun, but be careful who you’re with when you’re trying this one:

  • I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet I sit.

Anna Ziss-Patton

Anna Ziss-Patton
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