The Art of Public Speaking HTML version
The little child seldom speaks in a monotonous pitch. Observe the conversations of little folk that you hear on
the street or in the home, and note the continual changes of pitch. The unconscious speech of most adults is
likewise full of pleasing variations.
Imagine someone speaking the following, and consider if the effect would not be just about as indicated.
Remember, we are not now discussing the inflection of single words, but the general pitch in which phrases
(High pitch) "I'd like to leave for my vacation tomorrow,--(lower) still, I have so much to do. (Higher) Yet I
suppose if I wait until I have time I'll never go."
Repeat this, first in the pitches indicated, and then all in the one pitch, as many speakers would. Observe the
difference in naturalness of effect.
The following exercise should be spoken in a purely conversational tone, with numerous changes of pitch.
Practise it until your delivery would cause a stranger in the next room to think you were discussing an actual
incident with a friend, instead of delivering a memorized monologue. If you are in doubt about the effect you
have secured, repeat it to a friend and ask him if it sounds like memorized words. If it does, it is wrong.
A SIMILAR CASE
Jack, I hear you've gone and done it.--Yes, I know; most fellows will; went and tried it once myself, sir,
though you see I'm single still. And you met her--did you tell me--down at Newport, last July, and resolved to
ask the question at a soirée? So did I.
I suppose you left the ball-room, with its music and its light; for they say love's flame is brightest in the
darkness of the night. Well, you walked along together, overhead the starlit sky; and I'll bet--old man, confess
it--you were frightened. So was I.
So you strolled along the terrace, saw the summer moonlight pour all its radiance on the waters, as they
rippled on the shore, till at length you gathered courage, when you saw that none was nigh--did you draw her
close and tell her that you loved her? So did I.
Well, I needn't ask you further, and I'm sure I wish you joy. Think I'll wander down and see you when you're
married--eh, my boy? When the honeymoon is over and you're settled down, we'll try--What? the deuce you
say! Rejected--you rejected? So was I.
The necessity for changing pitch is so self-evident that it should be grasped and applied immediately.
However, it requires patient drill to free yourself from monotony of pitch.
In natural conversation you think of an idea first, and then find words to express it. In memorized speeches
you are liable to speak the words, and then think what they mean--and many speakers seem to trouble very
little even about that. Is it any wonder that reversing the process should reverse the result? Get back to nature
in your methods of expression.
Read the following selection in a nonchalant manner, never pausing to think what the words really mean. Try
it again, carefully studying the thought you have assimilated. Believe the idea, desire to express it effectively,
and imagine an audience before you. Look them earnestly in the face and repeat this truth. If you follow
directions, you will note that you have made many changes of pitch after several readings.