Week Two: Perspectives on Speech
1. Define ‘Professional Voice’:
Last week we listened to Julia Gillard and ideas about her voice. In 300 words, define in your own words what you think makes a ‘professional voice’; ie. What makes a voice sound professional (or otherwise)?
Social class and overall ability is judged by the way speakers use their voice (Ames 2016). There are many factors to consider when establishing what makes a professional voice. These could include: news readers/journalists, radio presenters, actors, public speakers, academics, among many others.
Newsreaders are clear and concise. Their voice is well delivered and is seemingly quite natural. Their accents are neutral and easy to understand. According to Marc Llewellyn from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a great news reader and radio voice is ‘warm, resonant, powerful, emotive, and authoritative’ (Llewellyn 2014, p. 1).
Public speakers and academics understand the content of what they are saying, which allows the listeners to follow them more easily. The communication training organization Toastmasters (2011) states that the aim of a public speaker is be be pleasant, natural, lively, meaningful and clear.
In my opinion, a professional voice is articulate, smooth, has expression and vibrancy.
According to Ivanic and Camps (2001, cited in Ames 2016 p.1) listeners associate with certain social groups by the way speakers pronounce their vowels. As a result, a professional voice would need to be somewhere in the middle of both extremes; well-rounded and broad. What makes a voice sound professional, is the ability to deliver content so the listeners can interpret without bias. (more references)
After listening to some professional voice over-actors on https://voicebunny.com, I noted the following consistent attributes:
- The voices I liked where smooth, deep and had a neutral delivery. For example: https://voicebunny.com/search/samples/1BR3BE0/43557/
As apposed to the voices I didn’t consider professional, which were high pitched and seemed some what insincere. For example: https://voicebunny.com/search/samples/7C6UM4/76989/
- What I found interesting is that I was instantly put off by a person’s accent, i.e. one lady pronounced Queensland as ‘Queenslund’, which I assumed was her Southern Australian accent. I consider myself an open minded person, so to learn that I was judging these speakers on their accents proves the research to be true. I found her accent disconnected seeing as I’m from Queensland. (Ivanic & Camps, 2001, cited in Ames 2016 p.1)
2. What makes a great speech?:
Reflect on some of the speeches to which you were referred in this week’s study guide. What made these speeches effective (or otherwise)? Were there any common elements between the speeches?
What is noticeable in the research is how much of a role non verbal language plays when delivering a speech. ‘People decide if they like a speech based on the speaker’s body language, more than their actual words’ (Science of People 2015).
The research also exposed how the ‘small things’ that we would assume insignificant, really do matter. For example, the more vocal variety a speaker had, the more people liked their speech (Science of People 2015). Adding to that also, the more hand gestures a speaker used the more views their speech had (Science of People 2015).
For more interesting facts about this study you can access the information here: http://www.scienceofpeople.com/5-secrets-of-a-successful-ted-talk-2/
Here are some observations from the recommended speeches in this week’s lesson:
- Martin Luther King Jr is speech powerful, engaging and dramatic. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. King Jr. is clear and articulate. He is engaged with his audience and doesn’t look at any prompts. He has appropriate and poignant pauses. He adds a performance quality and is passionate about the content of his speech. He uses the one phrase to really penetrate what the speech is about to his audience.
- Barrack Obama’s speech is somewhat less dramatic, with less heated passion and more emotion. He is very candid and you can feel that this speech comes from the heart. He ums and delays his words at times which makes me think he is going off script and speaking from his own opinion. He is not as engaged with his audience as Martin Luther King JR, in terms of eye contact. President Obama looks down a lot. He does use powerful hand gestures.
- Nick Vujicic’s speech is more casual and charismatic. He’s engaging and really speaks to his audience with passion and life. He uses humor and wit to engross his audience. Nick is full of energy and doesn’t stop moving, something I think is effective as his audience is energetic teenagers. His voice is loud, clear and confident and his words are enunciated.
Common elements between speeches:
- Well spoken
- Dramatic pauses applied in appropriate parts of the speech
[Skip the first 10 seconds if you’re impatient like me, 0:38 is when it gets interesting]
3. Record Emphasis in Professional News Reading:
Is there a pattern? Does the emphasis occur every four to five words, three to four words, for example? Or is it more random?
What are the features of this recording that are different to your own?
The pattern that is evident with this news reading is that the key word at the beginning of every sentence is said in a higher voice. Stowell’s inflection can be found on the sixth, seventh or eigth word in the sentence, although sometimes the inflection is at random.
What is different about this professional news reading and my first try, is the tone, pace and inflection. Stowell’s voice is very clear, her words are enunciated and she does not stumble on any words or pronunciation. When she does raise her voice higher or lower, depending on the tone of the subject, it is very subtle and sounds very professional.
‘The 35 greatest speeches of all time’, as listed by the ‘Art of Manliness’ blog.
Make a comment about your views on your blog. I would be interested to know how many of these speakers were familiar to you.
Setting aside the fact that a large number of these speeches are delivered by middle aged white men, I found these speeches articulate and well written. The speeches I was familiar with include:
- Winston Churchill, “We Shall Fight on the Beaches”
- John F. Kennedy, “Inauguration Address”
- Mahatma Gandhi, “Quit India”
Two different speeches on race in America, one made in 1963 and one made in 2013. One was impassioned; the other was quietly spoken and subtle in its message.
First, watch Martin Luther King’s speech ‘I have a dream’
Then watch President Barack Obama’s 2013 response to Trayvon Martin’s case
whereby a Hispanic man George Zimmerman shot black teenager Trayvon Martin but was acquitted of murder or manslaughter by a US court in July 2013. Finally, read Richard Norton Smith’s reflection in his article, ‘One Speech.’
(http://libraryresources.cqu.edu.au/cro/protected/comm12033/comm12033_cro8674.pdf ) You may like to record your reaction to this on your blog. As a minimum, you should at least watch these speeches. They were/are important and demonstrate how grounded speech is in context.
Watch: The King’s Speech (2011)
Reflect on the major issues for King George VI as a public figure with a speech impediment, as represented in this film.
The major issues for King George VI, as a public figure, as portrayed in the film ‘The King’s Speech (2011), are:
- Stopping and starting frequently- lacking confidence and flow.
- Nerves/ speaking in front of the masses, which then turned to social anxiety.
- Inability to enunciate.
- Lack of confidence; he doesn’t believe he has a voice.
- His public speaking only started to improve when he realized he had a voice worthy of hearing.
Ames, K 2016, Module 2: Perspectives on speech, course notes, COMM12033: Speech and Script, CQUniversity e-courses, http://moodle.cqu.edu.au
Five Secrets of a Successful TED Talk, Science of People, 2015, viewed March 15 2016, http://www.scienceofpeople.com/5-secrets-of-a-successful-ted-talk-2/
Harris R, 2010, A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices, viewed 15 March 2016, http://www.virtualsalt.com/rhetoric3.htm#Conduplicatio
Hubspot Marketing Blog 2015, ‘The Science of a Great TED Talk: What Makes a Speech Go Viral’, blog post, 3 April, viewed March 15 2016, http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/ted-talk-public-speaking-study
Llewellyn M 2014, Secrets of a great ‘radio voice’ revealed, viewed 23 march 2016 http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/07/15/4042624.htm
Martin Luther King Jr. 1966, digital image, viewed March 15 2016, http://www.gafollowers.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/martin-luther-king-jr-1967.jpg
Thecussingchannel (poster) 2012, The Kings Speech stammering, video, 18 May, viewed March 15 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvWRf4_ydCw
Your speaking voice, Toastmasters International, 2011, viewed 23 March 2016, http://www.toastmasters.org/~/media/B7D5C3F93FC3439589BCBF5DBF521132.ashx