Week 2: Perspectives on Speech

DEVELOPING A PROFESSIONAL SOUND

From daily communication to reaching an entire nation with an idea, a person’s verbal skills will shape the way they interact on both social and professional levels (Li, Ying, Zhang 2016). Delivery of speech continuously varies from one place to another as the social standards change and accent fluctuations divide the way people sound when they speak (Ames 2016). For this reason, certain verbal skills can be developed and practiced among all social groups, in order to sound professional (Li, Ying, Zhang 2016).

For the right sound, a speaker must consider the tone of their voice (Ames 2016). Inflection, which is the rise in tone at the end of a word, is used to express emphasis on certain details (Shoebottom 2016). It also establishes the mood of what is being said. For instance, inflection is more frequently apparent in a newsreader’s voice when reading human interest stories that are exciting and uplifiting. By knowing when to raise the tone of the voice and practicing it appropriately, this indicates to the audience that the speaker knows their content.

A professional voice is also achieved by speaking clearly and at a steady pace. By speaking too slow, the audience may lose interest and become bored. By speaking too fast, it makes it difficult for listeners to understand what is being said and may not allow time for information to be processed correctly (Mancuso & Miltenberger 2015). In addition to clarity, the speaker must project their voice at a volume that will carry on effectively to the listeners. To sound professional, the voice must sound strong and hearty. Speakers can achieve this by exerting their voice from deeper within the chest (Skills You Need 2016). Those who exert their voice from higher up establish a higher pitch which is not received by listeners the same way as a lower and deeper sounding voice (Skills You Need 2016).

While the steps to establishing a professional voice may sound straight-forward, the overall outcome relies on practice. Each voice is different and some naturally fit the mould of a ‘professional voice’ whilst others must work to achieve it. Therefore, making a voice sound professional may be challenging for most people, yet, it is achievable by those who know their audience and continue to practice.

DEVELOPING A GREAT SPEECH

According to professional speaker and entrepreneur, Mathew Capella (2014), confidence is the key to achieving a great speech. By delivering a speech assuredly, the speaker will appear to truly believe what is being said and as a result, the audience will too (Capella 2014). A confident speaker talks clearly and at a pace that is not too fast to be understood, nor is it so slow that the audience loses interest (Li, Ying, Zhang 2016). Confident speakers also use appropriate hand-gestures and body language such as counting on their hands while listing information, and placing a hand to the chest when touching on a sensitive topic (Mancuso & Miltenberger 2015). In turn, speakers who are heard and not seen, such as radio broadcasters, use visual language, including metaphors and allegories to make up for what cannot be shown to the audience (Gamble 2006).

In addition to this, a professional speaker will know their audience and content thoroughly. In doing so, they will convey information that the audience is interested in and relates to (Capella 2014). By knowing the audience, the speaker is able to ask closed-ended and rhetorical questions, keeping listeners engaged and triggering thought. Equally as important in developing a great speech, a speaker must develop structure in their speech and always use proper English, avoiding slang (Ames 2016). Reducing the use of ‘filled pauses’ which consist of ‘um’ or ‘er’ and avoiding repetition of words such as ‘like’ will also make for a more effective speaker (Mancuso & Miltenberger 2015).

An example of a speaker who demonstrates a professional sound and delivery of voice is Barack Obama and his speech on Trayvon Martin.

Obama speaks very clearly and paces his words evenly, allowing listeners to take in what is being said. It is obvious that Obama knows his audience and is speaking to them rather than at them. He speaks with no script or notes, showing that he is very familiar with the content of his speech. Obama also uses suitable body language, standing straight and facing the audience while making subtle hand gestures when appropriate. His facial expressions and the tone of his voice deliver emotion, indicating that Obama understands and relates with what he is saying. He makes this even more apparent by commenting that ‘this could have been my son’,  as he explores views on the incident from the African-American community. While Obama appears empathetic to the Martin family, he does not take sides or use prejudice or bias. At the beginning and throughout the speech, Obama speaks in a low tone as he touches on sensitive topics. Towards the end, the tone in his voice rises as he concludes on a positive and lighter note.

Another example is Martin Luther Kings Jr’s ‘I Have A Dream Speech’. Similar to Obama, Martin Luther King Jr speaks clearly, confidently and expressive of his emotions. He knows his audience and identifies himself with them as he uses terms such as ‘we’ and ‘together’. Unlike Obama, King Jr is delivering a form of argument, fighting for the freedom and equality of African-Americans in the U.S.A and all over the world. The use of repetition also sets this speech apart from Obama’s. The key message ‘I have a dream’ is repeated throughout, reminding the audience of the purpose of the speech. King Jr is also far more expressive of his emotions. Obama appeared calm and compassionate during his speech, whereas King Jr’s entire delivery was shaped by how this issue had impacted him. While he speaks in a way that aims to inspire, his facial expressions appear sad and indicate that he has not only witnessed this issue – he has also lived it. Both of these speakers touch on a similar issue, occurring at different points in term. Although their methods of delivery were not exactly the same, they were both equally as effective in engaging the target audience and communicating their message.

(Include similarities of both speeches, confident, articulate, well spoken, added performance)

NEWS READ RECORDING: AMATEUR VS PROFESSIONAL 

In Week 1 I posted a recording of my voice reading a news script and reflected on its quality. This task served to indicate the quality of my professional speaking voice upon entering this course. In this blog I will be comparing my recording of the news script to the actual recording by newsreader Kate Stowell.

The most crucial difference between the two readings is the presence of inflection in our voices. Inflection occurs where the pronunciation of a word changes to suit the way it is being used in a sentence (Cambridge Dictionaries Online 2016). It appears in words that are being emphasized such as nouns, verbs and adjectives (Shoebottom 2016). This emphasis is identified by a rise of tone towards the end of a word (Shoebottom 2016).

Stowell’s recording of the script demonstrates this, as inflection is apparent in her voice when she mentions, names, places, times and events. For example, the tone of her voice is noticeably higher at the end of the words ‘Australia’, ‘seventeen’ and ‘independent’ than the rest of the sentence. This use of inflection is consistent throughout the recording.

In contrast to this, my recording sounds far more mono-tone and it can be difficult to identify inflections in my voice. While inflection is still evident, I have not used it consistently. Due to this, it sounds as though I am speaking casually rather than in a professional manner.

In addition, the overall tone of Stowell’s voice is much deeper than mine. She speaks at a faster pace and projects her voice further. Stowell’s words flow evenly, and short pauses as well as change in tone indicate shifts of subject. This differs from my recording in which my words are tied too closely together throughout the recording. It is not as easy to identify when I am changing the topic as I appear to rush through the content.

Overall, Stowell’s recording in contrast to my own, indicates the difference between a professional and an amateur news reading voice. This is a chief example how achieving a professional voice can require plenty of effort and practice. This also demonstrates the importance of understanding the value of speech techniques such as inflection and tone of the voice.

REFERENCES

Ames, K, 2016, CQU COMM12033 Speech and Script: Perspectives on Speech, accessed 20 March 2016,https://moodle.cqu.edu.au/pluginfile.php/293225/mod_resource/content/8/COMM12033_Week2_Mod.pdf

Cambridge Dictionaries Online, 2016, Inflection, accessed 23 March 2016, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/inflection

Capella, M, 2014, How to Become a Confident Public Speaker, accessed 1 Arill 2016, https://medium.com/personal-brand/how-to-become-a-confident-public-speaker-db3f9915a46a#.b10aoq79a Cambridge Dictionaries Online, 2016, Inflection, accessed 20 March 2016, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/inflection

Clark, D, 2013, Forbes, How To Become A Professional Speaker, accessed 23 March 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorieclark/2013/06/10/how-to-become-a-successful-professional-speaker/#2191e86f326f

Gamble, M, 2006, Using Radio Production Techniques to Improve Synchronous Communication, accessed 2 April 2016, http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/214/using-radio-production-techniques-to-improve-synchronous-communication/page2

Li, Y, Ying, Gao, Zhang, D, 2016, To Speak Like a TED Speaker – A Case Study of TED Motivated English Speaking Study in EFL Teaching, Higher Education Studies, vol. 1, pp. 15-19, accessed 2 April 2016, http://files.eric.ed.gov.ezproxy.cqu.edu.au/fulltext/EJ1087316.pdf

Mancuso, C & Miltenberger, R, 2015, Using habit reversal to decrease filled pauses in public speaking, accessed 2 April 2016, http://vs7pm8vz2k.search.serialssolutions.com.ezproxy.cqu.edu.au/?sid=36520&genre=article&issn=00218855&title=Journal%20of%20Applied%20Behavior%20Analysis&atitle=Using%20habit%20reversal%20to%20decrease%20filled%20pauses%20in%20public%20speaking.&author=Mancuso%2C%20Carolyn&authors=Mancuso%2C%20Carolyn%3BMiltenberger%2C%20Raymond%20G.&date=20160301&volume=49&issue=1&spage=188

Shoebottom, P 2016, Inflections, accessed 21 March 2016, http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/rules/inflections.htm

Skills You Need, 2016, Effective Speaking, accessed 21 March 2016, http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/effective-speaking.html

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