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Change These Amazon Echo Settings to Fix Alexa's Communication Problems

Simply changing these five settings will make your frustrations with Alexa vanish.

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Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Macy Meyer Editor I
Macy Meyer is a N.C. native who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021 with a B.A. in English and Journalism. She currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., where she has been working as an Editor I, covering a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, fitness and nutrition, smart home tech and more. Prior to her time at CNET, Macy was featured in The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, INDY Week, and other state and national publications. In each article, Macy helps readers get the most out of their home and wellness. When Macy isn't writing, she's volunteering, exploring the town or watching sports.
Expertise Macy covers a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, smart home tech, fitness, nutrition, travel, lifestyle and more. Credentials
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Katie Teague
Macy Meyer
3 min read
Aerial shot of an Amazon Echo 4th Gen

Even the best relationships sometimes have communication issues.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Alexa usually operates without issues. I give a command and my Amazon Echo device promptly responds or undergoes the task at hand. From making calls to guarding the home to making shopping a breeze, Alexa shows up for me each and every day... well, until it doesn't. 

While Alexa is usually spot-on in helping me automate my day, even the best relationships have communication issues. Sometimes Alexa doesn't understand my voice command or sometimes I think Alexa is speaking too fast, so things can get lost in translation. Fortunately, there are ways to fix that, without paying for an expensive therapy session. 

We'll tell you how to enable and change certain settings so that you have a better experience with your Amazon Echo. Read on to learn how to adjust Alexa's communication skills on your Amazon Echo device.

Read also: The Real Cost of Setting Up an Amazon Alexa Smart Home

When Alexa doesn't understand your voice commands

I bet you've heard this before: "I'm sorry, I didn't quite get that." This frustrating phrase is Alexa's way of communicating that it didn't quite understand what you said -- which can be annoying when you made total sense and spoke clearly. Luckily, there's a trick that can help prevent this from happening. 

Using the Voice Training tool in the Your Profile settings in the Alexa app, you can read 25 phrases aloud in a "typical voice from a typical distance" so Alexa gets a baseline understanding of your pronunciation and cadence. This will help Alexa recognize your voice and your way of speaking to better understand you in the future. 

Change Alexa's speaking speed

If your Amazon Echo is talking too fast or too slow for you, you can tell it to speed up or slow down. Just say "Alexa, speak faster" or "Alexa, speak slower." You can also reset it to its default speed by saying "Alexa, speak at your default rate." Alexa has seven talking speeds -- four faster, two slower and the default speed.

Echo can play a sound when Alexa is triggered

Once you've got your Amazon Echo up to speed, there's another feature that's especially useful for when you're not in the same room as your Echo. It's called Request Sounds and it plays a sound at the start of your request and the end. For example, when you say "Alexa" it'll play a noise to let you know you triggered the device. 

To enable this feature, open the Alexa app and tap Devices > All Devices > select your Echo > tap Sounds > and toggle on the switch for Start of Request and End of Request.

Hear shorter responses from Alexa

If you don't like it when Alexa repeats everything you say, you can turn on a setting called Brief Mode for shorter responses. So instead of Alexa saying "OK, turning on the lights," it'll just say "OK." 

To turn the setting on, open the Alexa app menu and select Settings. Under the Alexa Preferences section, tap Voice Responses, then toggle the switch on for Brief Mode.

A white Amazon Echo Dot with clock

Turn on Brief Mode to hear shorter responses from Alexa.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Whisper to Alexa

Another setting you'll appreciate in the middle of the night is Alexa's Whisper Mode. This setting allows Alexa to whisper back to you. You don't even have to open the Alexa app for this one, just whisper to the voice assistant and it'll automatically activate the low tone. 

More for your Alexa device