I had a difficult, but potentially productive moment, today. The UH voice coach, Jim Johnson, told me that I have the cloudiest voice and fuzziest diction among the graduate actors. At first, he went so far as to say he thought I might need to go over to Communications Disorders for speech therapy. It was immediately apparent to him that the problem is my soft palette--I don't get it high enough--but he wasn't sure if it was a physiological problem or not. He had me say some text. Then had me repeat the text with my nose plugged, so that my soft palette was forced to raise, which did the trick. Suddenly, my diction and tone were both clear, ruling out an underlying physiological issue, such as a borderline cleft palette. That this is not the case was good news.
The bad news is that I need to do "uvular push ups" at least ten minutes a day from now on and begin paying close attention to my daily speech as much as possible. Ideally, the increased awareness--as well as muscle flexibility--I develop will not only clean up my tone and diction, but give me a far greater pitch range in speaking than I now have. At the moment, though, Jim sees me as "uncastable" (funny enough, Jim also said that my tone is clearer and that I am easier to understand when I'm singing, rather than speaking.)
No one's pulling their punches, in these parts.
That's why I'm here.