Imágenes de páginas

excited, nothing is valuable in speech, | further than it is connected with high intellectual and moral endowments. | Clearness, force, and earnestness | are the qualities which produce conviction.

Faults of Phrasing.

1. Pausing only at long intervals. This is a most common fault, especially in the delivery of a memorized selection or address. Words are continuously poured out, with little or no recognition of relationships. Mere fluency is not eloquence. The young speaker should remember the old-time direction, "Mind your stops." A pause may be far more expressive than continuous vocalizing. At such pauses the mind is not blank, but is thinking for and with the audience; it is a very different pause from that caused by the failure of the memory or by stage-fright. Cultivate the habit of ease and time-taking. Pauses, as we have seen, will vary in length, but always take time for a deep inhalation.

2. Pausing too frequently. This is a common fault with those of a nervous temperament, or who naturally speak rapidly. The thought is thrown out in chunks, a word or two at a time. Such a speaker utters words rather than ideas, parts rather than units. The delivery is puffy, like a steam engine, choppy, disconnected.

If you find you have either of these faults, take a given selection, properly mark the phrasing, and then practise by pausing at the places marked, and only at such places.

Transition. In the nomenclature of delivery, transition refers to the changes that take place in passing from one thought-group to another. It is, in a sense, phrasing on a large scale. The transition from one completed idea to another, from a literal statement to an illustration, from one part of a description to another, must be distinctly indicated in the delivery. The larger groups, as represented

by the paragraph, require transitions of wider intervals. The speaker, at such a transition, silently says to himself and to his audience, "I have concluded with that line of thought. I now take up a new line of thought," or "I am now to speak of another phase of this idea," as the case may be. The speaker must take time to adjust his mind to the change, and he must in some way indicate the change to his hearers, just as a paragraph indicates it to readers. To accomplish this, the time-element is employed in taking a relatively long pause, aided, usually, by a change in rate, key, and tone.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In nine cases out of ten, the young speaker will either not take sufficient time to make his transitions marked, or else - what is oftener the case no transitions are indicated in the delivery. He seems to proceed on the assumption, "If I don't continue to pour out words, I am lost!” So a new paragraph, for example, is taken up as though it were a new sentence, or clause, with no change whatever in the general delivery. It should be realized that wellmarked, easy, natural transitions in a speech, besides showing changes in the thought, aid much in breaking up a general monotony of delivery.


It would be impossible to illustrate how transitions, at the varyingly separated thought-groups, can be effected. illustrative of the transitions that occur within a paragraph, and also between paragraphs, see the selection, "Character Essential for a Great Lawyer," Chapter XIII, p. 170.


Time relates to duration of utterance, expressed by the length of vocal sounds, and by the pauses between words, phrases, and paragraphs. It is an important means of expressing thought-relations. The various ideas and emotions in a discourse should be given with well-proportioned rate, and their relations expressed by proper pauses and changes.



Force. The public speaker aims to have his hearers think as he thinks, believe as he believes, and act as he would act. Broadly considered, that element of delivery which induces belief and action, is called Force. It is the persuasive element in oratory. It refers to the energy, the power with which one speaks. Force is audible earnestness. It should not be confounded with mere loudness. Increased loudness may be an accompaniment of increased force, but is not necessarily so. Indeed, great intensity of feeling is seldom shown by mere noise.

Since force has to do with emotional expression, it must result from, and vary with, the various emotions that rise from the ideas uttered. Hence the absurd classifications found in elocution manuals, wherein certain emotions are to be given with "normal effusive" or "guttural explosive" force, are worse than useless. Certain leading faults, however, in the use or lack of use of force, embodied in the general suggestions that follow, may well be heeded by the student of speaking.

General Suggestions regarding Force.

1. Adapt the voice to the room in which you are speaking. Proper adaptation will depend upon the physical condition of the speaker and upon the size and acoustics of the audience-room. Ordinarily, in beginning an address, no

marked force is required. In delivering the introductory matter, the emotions are not as yet aroused. Stress is laid upon a clear statement of the subject-matter as a basis for whatever emotions subsequently grow out of it. "It is of eloquence as of a flame: it requires matter to feed it, motion to excite it, and it brightens as it burns." There is much practical sense in the old rule: "Begin low, speak slow; take fire, rise higher; when most impressive be self-possessive." We have already seen, in the chapter on Key, that it is not always necessary to "rise higher" as you "take fire"; but "begin low" is a good general rule. It indicates the absence of rant or bluster, and the presence of poise and control. But while a purely conversational key should be struck, the voice should be sent out with sufficient strength to reach every person in the audience. Henry Ward Beecher, who had many theories about the art of public speaking and the way of managing an audience, used to advise young speakers to begin in a low tone, rather below the normal, so as to catch hold of the watchful attention of the meeting, and then, when that attention was secured, to let the voice out to its normal strength. This plan might do for Mr. Beecher, but it is a dangerous rule for speakers whom audiences are not so anxious to hear as they were to hear him. A safer plan is for the speaker to begin with such clearness and strength that the entire audience will have the comfort of knowing from the very first sentence that they will have no trouble in following. Now, to do this, it is never necessary to yell. Deep breathing, clear enunciation, and sending the voice out to the farthest auditors, are the primary requisites of being heard. This sending of the voice out to the whole audience, known as "carrying power," is one of the several means of objectifying the thought, which is the speaker's sole aim. To secure this carrying power, practise speaking a given sentence, ten,

twenty, and one hundred feet distant. Learn to get your voice away from you. The speaker must have a consciousness of those farthest away in the audience, and aim to include them within his vocal range. But do not shout or rant. Avoid all attempts at "pulmonary eloquence." Thunder without electricity is a contradiction in nature. If the thunder tones come from electrical, emotional states, well and good. But do not force your force. Remember that oftentimes the most forceful effects come from a quiet intensity. The greatest force comes from a reserve of force. The force is there, but the most effective speakers seldom let their voices out to the full capacity. You always feel that there is a reserve of power, a repose that is in itself an emblem of strength. Such repose is simply an indication that activity at the centre transcends activity at the surface; that the motive power is controlling and moving the machinery. "People always perceive," says Emerson, "whether you drive or whether the horses take the bits in their teeth and run."

A speaker often tries to make up for a lack of thought or feeling by noise. Such a speaker needs to take for himself the recipe sent for making a famous brand of coffee: "Put some in." The relation of his vocal to his emotional power is like the Sangamon River steamboat that Lincoln describes. It had a ten-horse-power engine and a twentyhorse-power whistle; when the whistle blew the engine stopped. Henry Ward Beecher tells that his father, Rev. Lyman Beecher, on coming home from church one day, said, "It seems to me that I never made a worse sermon than

I did this morning." "Why, father," said Henry, "I never heard you preach so loud in all my life." "That is the way I always holler when I haven't anything to say."

While there is the other side to this question of adapta

« AnteriorContinuar »