Abbildungen der Seite

that preaching is not reading, and reading is not preaching?" 1

It must be admitted, then, that the speaker who depends upon a manuscript limits himself in independence and power. The fact that, as Bautain says, "There are men organized to speak well, as there are birds organized to sing well, bees to make honey, and beavers to build," is not a valid plea for the easier and more comfortable method of reading instead of speaking one's message. Properly done the extemporaneous style at first means increased labor, and greater risk and responsibility, but in the end it will yield the highest possible results in convincing and persuasive speech.

M. de Cormenin gives this stirring advice to French preachers in regard to their congregations: "Take strong hold of their attention. Stir up their pity or indignation, their sympathies, or their pride. Appear to be animated by their breath, all the while you are communicating yours to them. When you have in some degree detached their souls from their bodies and they come and group themselves of their own accord at the foot of the pulpit, riveted beneath the influence of your glance; then do not dally with them, for they are yours, your soul having, as it may be truly said, passed into theirs. Look, now, how they follow its ebb and flow! how they will as you will! how they act as you act! But persist, give them no rest; press your discourse home-and you will soon see all bosoms panting because yours pants; all eyes kindling because yours emit flame, or filling with tears because you grow tender. You will see all the hearers hanging on your lips through the attraction of persuasion; or, rather, you

1 John Henry Newman, Idea of a University.

will see nothing, for you yourself will be under the spell of your own emotion; you will bend, you will succumb under your own genius, and you will be more eloquent the less effort you make to appear so. 991


How can any man thus press his advantage home if his eyes be fixt upon a written manuscript, and having, perhaps, the constant fear that he will "lose his place. How incongruous and aimless does it seem in the speaker to gesticulate and twist the body while he is bent over the printed page. The popular ideal of speaking and preaching demands, as has already been said, the eye to eye communication of the speaker, the magnetism of direct appeal, the fire and freedom of the whole man unencumbered by manuscript or reading-desk. This was the method generally used by the great Greek and Roman orators and by most of the distinguished speakers of modern times. It is the style of delivery that should be assiduously cultivated by every man aspiring to become a thoroughly proficient public speaker.

Quoted by J. Spencer Kennard, D.D., in Psychic Power in Preaching.



It may seem superfluous to say that a public speaker should be heard in order to successfully hold an audience, but it is nevertheless true that many speakers are not heard with ease and satisfaction. This is often due to the habit of speaking through half-closed teeth and mouth. A public speaker should train himself to naturally open his mouth wide enough to give the greatest freedom to his voice and articulation. The long sound of a in father and in similar words is frequently obscured. This long open position of the mouth is illustrated in the following sentence: Thou art thy father's child.

If the reader will pronounce these words before a looking-glass he will observe the long opening of the mouth necessary to their correct pronunciation. If the correct mouth position in these or any other sounds is modified in the least degree, the pronunciation will be correspondingly incorrect.

In practising distinct enunciation avoid the two extremes of slovenliness and pedantry. Pronunciation and articulation should never attract the attention of the listener. They should be simply and unobtrusively correct. Some one said of a certain preacher: "He speaks so distinctly I do not understand anything he says." The listener's

attention was so completely attracted to the manner of speaking that he lost sight of the subject.

For most occasions the speaker will require his chest tones for his public speaking work. This gives fulness, resonance, and depth to utterance; it is less taxing upon the speaker, if combined, as it should be, with abdominal breathing; and it is more agreeable to the listening ear. Head tones are responsible for much of the nasal twang heard on every side, and are largely the cause of weak and sore throats and "Monday-morning prostrations."

A public speaker should cultivate a conversational style of address. The day of stilted and bombastic oratory is passed. Audiences like and demand the most direct kind of speaking possible, and in words at once simple and idiomatic. Flowery speech, overwrought perorations, and oratorical flights are not now tolerated. This does not imply that intensity, progress, climax, and even a peroration have not their proper place and use, but it does mean that modern taste demands a colloquial style of utterance, adapted to the practical needs of men. Public speaking is merely heightened conversation, and the closer a man keeps to lines of naturalness and simplicity the greater will be his chances of success.

[ocr errors]


The preacher should be particularly careful not to fall into a certain uniform "tone, or as some one has called it, "a sanctimonious whine," but as a man talking to other men he should always employ a man's voice, use it in a manly style, and project it with manly force and vigor. Intoning, drawling, chanting, monotony and other unnatural tricks of delivery should be studiously avoided. This applies equally to "ministerial tone," singsong, wail

ing, clipping of consonants, undue prolongation of vowels, and other vocal eccentricities.

A speaker of real power must learn to emphasize his important thoughts, not by mere loudness of voice, nodding of the head, or slapping the hands loudly together, but rather by inflection, change of pitch, judicious pausing, and by other intellectual means. Here, again, the public speaker might take a lesson from the actor who spends hours in careful and painstaking study of the emphasis of a single speech. Intelligent emphasis will do much toward guiding one away from meaningless declamation. It is the best evidence that the speaker knows "what he is talking about."

The beginning of an address or sermon calls for no particular action or gesture. The commencement should be a gradual unfoldment of the speaker's powers, vocal, physical and mental. As he enters more deeply into his thought, some slight gesture may be appropriately used, and changes made in his attitude and standing position. Gesture and action of the body should be used sparingly, however, it being better to use too little than too much. The extremes of standing stock-still or restlessly moving about are to be avoided. No better advice on this subject has ever been given than to "suit the action to the word, the word to the action.


When the speaker stands to address his audience, he should assume a modest and easy attitude, and look his hearers straight in the eyes. The weight of the body should be on the forward part of the foot-not on the heels-the entire foot touching the floor. The knees should be straight. In turning from side to side the movements should be made at the waist, not at the neck. The latter

« ZurückWeiter »