Speech & Talking

A person with facial palsy may experience difficulties with speech. The facial nerve is responsible for movement of the lips and maintains good muscle tone in the cheeks. When the facial nerve is damaged the lips can become weak and the muscle tone in the cheek can be lost or reduced. As a result your speech may become unclear and you may feel that your speech sounds different or it feels harder to speak.

Link to information about Child Speech & Language

What types of problems might you experience with your speech?

The sounds which are most likely to be difficult to make are those which involve the lips. Some examples are ‘p’, ‘b’, ‘m’, ‘f’ ‘v’ ‘w’ and ‘r’. Your speech may sound slightly different and effortful which may make you feel self-conscious especially if your work involves giving talks or presentations. Fatigue may also make speaking more difficult.

What can help make speech clearer?

Your GP will be able to refer you to a speech and language therapist for specialist advice and treatment.

Tips for clearer speech

  • Speak more slowly so that people can understand you easily.
  • Always look straight ahead so that you can project your voice towards the listener.
  • Face the listener so that he/she can lip-read if they haven’t quite heard you. In contrast, people with hearing loss who depend on lip-reading to understand the spoken word may find it more difficult to lip read people with facial palsy. This is because some speech movements are asymmetric. It is therefore more difficult for the lip reader to discriminate between certain sounds, such as those previously mentioned.
  • Try and reduce the noise around you so that others can hear you more easily. For example, turn down the volume on the TV or radio when you are speaking. If possible find a quiet place to talk.
  • If you are giving a talk or presentation, make sure you have some water and take frequent sips. This will keep your mouth moist and make speaking easier especially if you suffer from dry mouth.
  • If you do suffer from dry mouth, try using artificial saliva which can be purchased in the form of mouth gel, sprays and chewing gum, this can really help make your speech clearer.
  • If your cheek feels very floppy and heavy then place your hand against your cheek when you talk. This gives the cheek good support and helps direct the speech forward. This is especially useful when using the phone, as phones tend to distort sound and make it more difficult for people to hear you.

For children see Child Speech & Language

Last reviewed: 31-07-2019    ||    Next review due: 31-07-2022