Article image

Speaking clearly shown to improve the listener’s ability to remember

New research reveals that people are more likely to recall a conversation if a speaker uses precise diction and slow, clear communication.

Sandie Keerstock and Rajka Smiljanic, researchers and linguists from the University of Texas at Austin, are currently working to understand why some conversations are quickly forgotten while others can be recalled years later.

Keerstock and Smiljanic have focused their research on how clarity of speaking style impacts memory and recently, the two conducted a new study with non-native English speakers.

Previously the team proved that clearly spoken sentences were quickly recognized and remembered.

For this most recent work, the researchers asked 30 native and 30 non-native English listeners  to listen to blocks of sentences.

Examples of the sentences included “the boy carried the heavy chair,” and a listener would hear each phrase twice. Once with a speaker delivering a slow, articulate sentence and another with the same speaker using a casual and quick delivery.

After hearing the sentences, the researchers asked the participants to write down, for verbatim, what sentences they had heard after being given one word prompts.

The clear sentences were more easily remembered than the ones delivered in a conversational manner, and this held true for both groups of listeners.

The researchers theorize that enunciation and clarity help with sentence recognition after the fact.

Listeners don’t have to work as hard to understand what a speaker who enunciates and talks slowly is saying, and so more energy can be reserved for memory formation.

“That appears to be an efficient way of conveying information, not only because we can hear the words better but also because we can retain them better,” said Smiljanic.

The team will present their findings at the Acoustical Society of America’s 176th Meeting this week in Canada.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day