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give a jerky effect, and impair the freedom of the throat. It is advisable at the outset to direct the voice to some one sitting at the back of the room.
When special effects are demanded by the thought, care should be taken not to employ too loud nor too high-keyed a voice, but rather to depend upon increased intensity, roundness, and depth of tone. The voice should be adapted to the size of the room in which one is speaking. When possible it is well to test the voice there beforehand. This is particularly desirable when one is to speak in an unusually large auditorium, or in one with which he is not familiar. If there is an echo, or should the audience be unusually scattered, there is special necessity for deliberate and distinct utterance.
In reading from a manuscript or book it should be so held, or placed upon a reading-stand, as to give an unobstructed view of the speaker's face. Anything that is to be read before an audience, be it sermon, speech, Bible, report, or announcement, should be thoroughly practised aloud in advance.
Once the speaker secures a hold upon his audience this advantage should not be relaxed until the end of his address. The voice may be softened and shaded, as the thought subsides and varies, but the nervous and concentrated energy of the speaker should continue to exercise its powerful control over the audience.
A public speaker will find it advantageous to cultivate a discriminating musical ear. There is the music of speech as there is of song. Symmetrical flow and rhythm and melody play an important part in fascinating the listener, and give added ease and fluency to the spoken word. Effects of onomatopoeia-words that partly disclose their
meaning in their sound-should be studied and intelligently used as elements of effective speech.
Varied thought calls for appropriate and natural variety in speech. A "wriggling" voice is not to be encouraged, nor should the same variety be too often repeated lest it, too, by its very repetition, become monotonous. A just sense of vocal values, of perspective, of modulation adapted to the thought, will best guide the speaker. He will also cultivate lightness of touch. Sounds that come down like a heavy foot soon become burdensome to the ear. The greatest skill and judgment are needed in varying the voice in force, color, key, and flexibility, to properly meet the demands of diversified thought.
The successful speaker should have force in his style. Not merely the force of loudness, but the force of earnestness and sincerity. It is the power behind the man that makes for effective oratory, the power "speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye, informing every feature, and urging the whole man onward, right onward to his object," this is truly the kind of eloquence to which every worthy public speaker should aspire.
Shrieking emphasis, vehement declamation, startling explosives, stamping the foot, pounding the desk or pulpit, are not evidences of self-possession nor of eloquence, and fail to inspire confidence on the part of the hearer. The cart-tail orator may harangue and scold his audience, but it is out of place in dignified address.
A deliberate style of speaking is desirable for most occasions. This prevents the crowding of words and obscuring of the thought. Frequent and varied pausing gives dignity and self-possession to the speaker, while at the same time the hearer has the opportunity of securing clear-cut
impressions of his thought. He can follow the speaker with less effort, consequently both his interest and pleasure are enhanced. Deliberateness does not mean a tedious drawing out of sounds or an exaggerated slowness of speech, but an orderly movement in which passes, both grammatical and rhetorical, find their natural and effective place.
The style of speaking insisted upon at our national political conventions offers many valuable suggestions. There the speaker must have something to say, and he must say it briefly. A tedious talker will not be tolerated. The speech must have tact, force, and substance, and it must bear the unmistakable marks of genuineness.
The final test of all public speaking is whether the listener is persuaded to act in accordance with the speaker's views. If, however, the listener's mental resolution to act upon the advice of the speaker evaporates as soon as he is beyond the speaker's voice and influence, the speaking has failed. The speaker must drive home the truth, reenforced by as many suggestions as he can possibly give to the hearer.
Then, again, as referred to in a preceding chapter, there is the personality of the speaker as a force in holding an audience. The greatest power in the world is personal, and as Doctor Bradford says: "Personal power culminates when wisdom and knowledge are married to goodness and love."
A powerful personality will be found then, where brain and heart have been trained in loyal service to others, where a man feels an eager enthusiasm in his work, and where his sympathies are so broad and so deep that they will lead him, if need be, to offer himself a living sacrifice in behalf of his cause.
To maintain his hold upon the people, and to touch them on all sides, the speaker must be all-round in his taste and development. Music, poetry, the drama, science and literature must all have their proper place in his life. How pathetic is this confession of Darwin:
"Up to the age of thirty or beyond it, poetry of many kinds gave me great pleasure; and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also said that pictures formerly gave me considerable and music very great delight. But now for many years I can not endure to read a line of poetry. I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music. My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts; but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I can not conceive. If I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept alive through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature."
A public speaker can not hope to be successful in holding an audience without a deep-seated and well-directed sympathetic nature. "The secret of lasting success," says a writer, “in social conversation, in platform speech, in pulpit sermon, is sympathy, sympathy, SYMPATHY. In the public speaker and the private speaker, there should ever be
sympathy for class or for mass, for the family or for the individual."
The speaker should have a definite purpose in view. There can be little power or satisfactory result in haphazard effort. He should know whether he is merely to entertain, or to instruct, convince, and persuade. Much will depend upon the occasion. A pulpit address will differ materially from an after-dinner speech, and what would be appropriate in a court of law, or in a scientific disquisition, might be uninteresting and out of place before a popular audience.
It is said that in a certain tribe of savages a man is allowed to speak at their councils only so long as he can stand on one foot. When the other toe touches the ground his time is up. What a relief this would be at times to some of our own long-suffering audiences!
A public speaker should be careful not to exceed his time limit. Many an otherwise admirable address has been ruined by being too long drawn out. It is dangerous to be too discursive, to succumb to the temptation to add "one more story." The old-time "Finally," "Lastly," "In conclusion," "One word more and I have done" have proved a pitfall to many a public speaker. It is an art to know how to successfully end a speech, to finish well within the prescribed time, and to leave your audience before they leave you.