05 Nov

Feeling good

Click here for the part one

After looking at the essentials, there is much to say about the everyday practicalities in a speakers life. For instance one should avoid staying up far into the night especially on Saturdays since lack of sleep and poor physical health can spoil a good sermon as speaker may not be able to vividly experience emotions, hence much of his power and passion due to exhaustion might not come across. On the contrary it is helpful especially for the young preachers to exert effort to feel good on the stage avoiding any personal distractions. (Among others this can mean to take a bath before going to church, having the clothes in which one feels good or even brushing teeth before a meeting starts. It is simply an unnecessary distraction to have to put up with pants that keep falling or realizing the horrific possibility of having a poppy seed from breakfast between the front teeth.)

Use of Notes

While more notes tend to increase precision, conciseness and smoothness they unfortunately decrease effectiveness and are perceived in a colder manner. They also limit speakers movement on a stage as his dependency on the fine crafted sentences work as invisible chains on both his body and eyes. A great use of this method of delivery Broadus suggests is if one is discussing a controverted point of doctrine, in the presence of persons ready to misunderstand or misrepresent him, it is even more than usually desirable that his language should be precise and unmistakable.” Reflecting on the spirit of a conversational age, people today expect spontaneous and direct way of communication. It is therefore extemporaneous or some might say free speaking that suits the 21.century hearers better owing to their more natural and personal approach.

Use of Voice

It is without a doubt, of great importance that a speaker should have his voice under control. While not everyone naturally possesses a fine voice there is much that can be done to improve and thus make best of such vocal power one was born with. Still at first a word of remark, as it is utterly unreasonable to expect excellence on special occasions if one is generally negligent and sloppy. Because of that one must make it a habit to heed daily his speaking; making sure it is agreeable and audible, while still natural. When the time of public speaking comes “utterance will almost take care of itself”.[Broadus]

Several points are to be mentioned regarding the use of voice.

  1. Good posture – For the best use of our voice that avoids any hindrance of its usage lies in erectness of position. This is closely connected to the breathing process that lies behind the oscillation of our vocal chords. Moreover any exercise that develops the chest is a contribution to such a stance.
  2. Volume – Exercises that expand lungs and a habit of speaking with a mouth well opened will steadily augment the volume of his voice. With an invention of a microphone strong voice is not as indispensable as before, yet its firmness and control is still welcomedvolume
  3. Speed – It is well documented that a human brain can process words much faster than the mouth can produce them. Jeff Miller wrote for Leadership magazine that an average rate of English-speakers is 150 words per minute. Then he adds that “faster speakers – up to 190 WPM – were rated as more objective, knowledgeable, and persuasive than slower speakers.” If one speaks too slow people have much remaining brain capacity at their disposal that makes it practically impossible for them to concentrate only at our sluggish speech and it nearly forces them to in their minds either evaluate our sermon on the fly (as opposed to receiving it) or wonder about things unrelated to the occasion. Our WPM has also something to say about the excitement and passion we have for a topic that indirectly suggests its importance for our audience. Stanley concludes boldly: “Bottom line, if you talk too slow, you will be perceived as boring, regardless of how important your content is.
  4. Melody – A certain flexibility of a voice is necessary in expressing a variety of sentiments. Low pitch is generally reserved for pieces of information that are rather personal and carry a greater significance, while high pitch sections express excitement and urgency.
  5. Variety – “Concerning to voice the key word is “variety”” says John MacArthur. Especially concerning the three preceding points as it is of severe cost to neglect it for “monotony is utterly destructive of eloquence.” Charles Finney affirms that “any monotonous sound, great or small, if continued, disposes people to sleep”. This poses a greater threat to those with longer manuscripts, who are used to read considerable sections of their sermons. Conversation and free speech in and of itself contains variety, while reading always leans to uniformity. “Listen to a conversation, and you will see that this is how we talk naturally. But public readers often sound as if they are reading because they lack natural changes of pace. Only a few readers are monotone, by many readers are monopaced.” (Jeffrey Arthurs)
  6. Pauses – What is not being said can be just as intense or important as what is being said, therefore a proper use of breaks can deepen our language or just offer a clear transition from one point to another.
  7. The Vice – Among the primary bad habits of public speakers is a need to jam every moment with a sound. This often leads to the well-known and undesirable “Um” fills, that under all circumstances should be avoided for their grievous impact on the entire experience.

Much could be said about helpful vocal exercises as well as a proper care for our vocal chords, yet as for this I can only recommend now to seek out a more extensive work on these particular topics.

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Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Mission


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