The Art of Public Speaking HTML version
death of five firemen in your home city. Size of type is his device to show emphasis in bold relief. He brings
out sometimes even in red headlines the striking news of the day.
It would be a boon to speech-making if speakers would conserve the attention of their audiences in the same
way and emphasize only the words representing the important ideas. The average speaker will deliver the
foregoing line on destiny with about the same amount of emphasis on each word. Instead of saying, "It is a
matter of CHOICE," he will deliver it, "It is a matter of choice," or "IT IS A MATTER OF CHOICE"--both
Charles Dana, the famous editor of The New York Sun, told one of his reporters that if he went up the street
and saw a dog bite a man, to pay no attention to it. The Sun could not afford to waste the time and attention of
its readers on such unimportant happenings. "But," said Mr. Dana, "if you see a man bite a dog, hurry back to
the office and write the story." Of course that is news; that is unusual.
Now the speaker who says "IT IS A MATTER OF CHOICE" is putting too much emphasis upon things that
are of no more importance to metropolitan readers than a dog bite, and when he fails to emphasize "choice" he
is like the reporter who "passes up" the man's biting a dog. The ideal speaker makes his big words stand out
like mountain peaks; his unimportant words are submerged like stream-beds. His big thoughts stand like huge
oaks; his ideas of no especial value are merely like the grass around the tree.
From all this we may deduce this important principle: EMPHASIS is a matter of CONTRAST and
Recently the New York American featured an editorial by Arthur Brisbane. Note the following, printed in the
same type as given here.
=We do not know what the President THOUGHT when he got that message, or what the elephant thinks when
he sees the mouse, but we do know what the President DID.=
The words THOUGHT and DID immediately catch the reader's attention because they are different from the
others, not especially because they are larger. If all the rest of the words in this sentence were made ten times
as large as they are, and DID and THOUGHT were kept at their present size, they would still be emphatic,
Take the following from Robert Chambers' novel, "The Business of Life." The words you, had, would, are all
emphatic, because they have been made different.
He looked at her in angry astonishment.
"Well, what do you call it if it isn't cowardice--to slink off and marry a defenseless girl like that!"
"Did you expect me to give you a chance to destroy me and poison Jacqueline's mind? If I had been guilty of
the thing with which you charge me, what I have done would have been cowardly. Otherwise, it is justified."
A Fifth Avenue bus would attract attention up at Minisink Ford, New York, while one of the ox teams that
frequently pass there would attract attention on Fifth Avenue. To make a word emphatic, deliver it differently
from the manner in which the words surrounding it are delivered. If you have been talking loudly, utter the
emphatic word in a concentrated whisper--and you have intense emphasis. If you have been going fast, go
very slow on the emphatic word. If you have been talking on a low pitch, jump to a high one on the emphatic
word. If you have been talking on a high pitch, take a low one on your emphatic ideas. Read the chapters on
"Inflection," "Feeling," "Pause," "Change of Pitch," "Change of Tempo." Each of these will explain in detail
how to get emphasis through the use of a certain principle.