Thy voice speaketh! (Part 2)

Cartoon people talking
Photo: © Arkela / 123RF Stock Photo

Savieta R Batra

Hello friends and welcome to the continuing edition of the article on building up your voice image.

We have discussed two vital characteristics of our voice, the pace and the pitch, in the previous edition. Let us now understand the next important characteristic of our voice, the Power we give to words in our speech.

Power means the emphasis or the stress we put on a word by lowering or raising our voice. Emphasizing a particular word in a sentence can change its meaning completely. It could be compared to a photographer’s zoom lens, moving in for a close-up one moment and back for a wide angle shot the next.

I was recently listening to a speech and heard the speaker say, “The curse of this country is not lack of education. It’s politics.” He emphasized curse, lack, education and politics. The other words were hurried over and thus given no comparative importance at all. The word politics was flamed out with great feeling as he slapped his hands together indignantly. His emphasis was both correct and powerful. He succeeded in getting my attention on the words that meant something, instead of holding it up on the preposition and articles in the sentence.

Therefore, an effective delivery would involve intelligently decoding the nuance of the message being communicated and thereby injecting intensity and earnestness in the words that will project the desired message in its entirety. The following exercise will help us understand that by varying the emphasis on different words in a sentence completely changes the interpretation of the sentence. Let us consider the sentence, ‘I didn’t say your service was bad.’ This sentence can be said in seven different ways, emphasizing a different word each time.

‘I didn’t say your service was bad.’
I – I didn’t say it, someone else did.
Didn’t – don’t put words in my mouth.
Say – I might have implied it, but I didn’t say it.
Your – Not yours, the company’s.
Was – Not was – is.
Bad – Not bad – it’s totally unacceptable.

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