Public Speaking
Irvah Lester Winter

Part 1 out of 7

Anne Soulard, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.





This book is designed to set forth the main principles of effective
platform delivery, and to provide a large body of material for student
practice. The work laid out may be used to form a separate course of
study, or a course of training running parallel with a course in
debating or other original speaking. It has been prepared with a view
also to that large number who want to speak, or have to speak, but
cannot have the advantage of a teacher. Much is therefore said in the
way of caution, and untechnical language is used throughout.

The discussion of principles in Part One is intended as a help towards
the student's understanding of his task, and also as a common basis of
criticism in the relation between teacher and pupil. The preliminary
fundamental work of Part Two, Technical Training, deals first with the
right formation of tone, the development of voice as such, the securing
of a fixed right vocal habit. Following comes the adapting of this
improved voice to the varieties of use, or expressional effect,
demanded of the public speaker. After this critical detailed drill, the
student is to take the platform, and apply his acquired technique to
continued discourse, receiving criticism after each entire piece of

The question as to what should be the plan and the content of Part
Three, Platform Practice, has been determined simply by asking what are
the distinctly varied conditions under which men most frequently speak.
It is regarded as profitable for the student to practice, at least to
some extent, in all the several kinds of speech here chosen. In thus
cultivating versatility, he will greatly enlarge his power of
expression, and will, at length, discover wherein lies his own special

The principal aim in choosing the selections has been to have them
sufficiently alive to be attractive to younger speakers, and not so
heavy as to be unsuited to their powers. Some of them have proved
effective by use; many others are new. In all cases they are of good

It is hoped that the new features of the book will be found useful. One
of these is a group of lighter after-dinner speeches and anecdotes. It
has been said that, in present-day speech-making, humor has supplanted
former-day eloquence. It plays anyway a considerable part in various
kinds of speaking. The young speaker is generally ineffective in the
expression of pleasantry, even his own. Practice in the speaking of
wholesome humor is good for cultivating quality of voice and ease of
manner, and for developing the faculty of giving humorous turn to one's
own thought. It is also entertaining to fellow students. Other new
features in the book are a practice section for the kind of informal
speaking suited to the club or the classroom, and a section given to
the occasional poem, the kind of poem that is associated with speech-

A considerable space is given to argumentative selections because of
the general interest in debating, and because a need has been felt for
something suited for special forensic practice among students of law.
Some poetic selections are introduced into Part Two in order to give
attractive variety to the student's work, and to provide for the
advantage of using verse form in some of the vocal training. The few
character sketches introduced may serve for cultivating facility in
giving entertaining touches to serious discourse. All the selections
for platform practice are designed, as seems most fitting, to occupy
about five minutes in delivery. Original speeches, wherein the student
presents his own thought, may be intermingled with this more technical
work in delivery, or may be taken up in a more special way in a
subsequent course.

It should, perhaps, be suggested that the plan of procedure here
prescribed can be modified to suit the individual teacher or student.
The method of advance explained in the Discussion of Principles is
believed to be the best, but some who use the book may prefer, for
example, to begin with the second group of selections, the familiar,
colloquial passages, and proceed from these to those more elevated and
sustained. This or any other variation from the plan here proposed can,
of course, be adopted. For any plan the variety of material is deemed
sufficient, and the method of grouping will be found convenient and

The making of this kind of book would not be possible except for the
generous privileges granted by many authors and many publishers of
copyrighted works. For the special courtesies of all whose writings
have a place here the editor would make the fullest acknowledgment of
indebtedness. The books from which extracts are taken have been
mentioned, in every case, in a prominent place with the title of the
selection, in order that so far as possible students may be led
carefully to read the entire original, and become fully imbued with its
meaning and spirit, before undertaking the vocal work on the selected
portion. For the purpose of such reading, it would be well to have
these books collected on a section of shelves in school libraries for
easy and ready reference.

The publishers from whose books selections have been most liberally
drawn are, Messrs. Houghton Mifflin Company, Messrs. Lothrop, Lee and
Shepard, Messrs. Little, Brown, and Company, of Boston, and Messrs.
Harper and Brothers, Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons, Messrs. G. P.
Putnam's Sons, Messrs. G. W. Dillingham Company, Messrs. Doubleday,
Page and Company, and Mr. C. P. Farrell, New York. Several of the
after-dinner speeches are taken from the excellent fifteen volume
collection, "Modern Eloquence," by an arrangement with Geo. L. Shuman
and Company, Chicago, publishers. In the first three volumes of this
collection will be found many other attractive after-dinner speeches.






Establishing the Tone
Vocal Flexibility
The Formation of Words
Making the Point
Indicating Values and Relations
Expressing the Feeling
Showing the Picture
Expression by Action

The Formal Address
The Public Lecture
The Informal Discussion
Argumentative Speech
The After-Dinner Speech
The Occasional Poem
The Making of the Speech



O Scotia!.......................... _Robert Burns_
O Rome! My Country!................ _Lord Byron_
Ring Out, Wild Bells!.............. _Alfred Lord Tennyson_
Roll On, Thou Deep!................ _Lord Byron_
Thou Too, Sail On!................. _Henry W. Longfellow_
O Tiber, Father Tiber!............. _Lord Macaulay_
Marullus to the Roman Citizens..... _William Shakespeare_
The Recessional.................... _Rudyard Kipling_
The Cradle of Liberty.............. _Daniel Webster_
The Impeachment of Warren Hastings. _Edmund Burke_
Bunker Hill........................ _Daniel Webster_
The Gettysburg Address............. _Abraham Lincoln_

Cśsar, the Fighter................. _Henry W. Longfellow_
Official Duty...................... _Theodore Roosevelt_
Look Well to your Speech........... _George Herbert Palmer_
Hamlet to the Players.............. _William Shakespeare_
Bellario's Letter.................. _William Shakespeare_
Casca, Speaking of Cśsar........... _William Shakespeare_
Squandering of the Voice........... _Henry Ward Beecher_
The Training of the Gentleman...... _William J. Tucker_

Brutus to the Roman Citizens....... _William Shakespeare_
The Precepts of Polonius........... _William Shakespeare_
The High Standard.................. _Lord Rosebery_
On Taxing the Colonies............. _Edmund Burke_
Justifying the President........... _John C. Spooner_
Britain and America................ _John Bright_

King Robert of Sicily.............. _Henry W. Longfellow_
Laying the Atlantic Cable.......... _James T. Fields_
O'Connell, the Orator.............. _Wendell Phillips_
Justification for Impeachment...... _Edmund Burke_
Wendell Phillips, the Orator....... _George William Curtis_
On the Disposal of Public Lands.... _Robert Y. Hayne_
The Declaration of Independence.... _Abraham Lincoln_

Northern Greeting to Southern Veterans.
................................... _Henry Cabot Lodge_
Matches and Overmatches............ _Daniel Webster_
The Coalition...................... _Daniel Webster_
In His Own Defense................. _Robert Emmet_
On Resistance to Great Britain..... _Patrick Henry_
Invective against Louis Bonaparte.. _Victor Hugo_

Mount, the Doge of Venice!......... _Mary Russell Mitford_
The Revenge........................ _Alfred Lord Tennyson_
A Vision of War.................... _Robert G. Ingersoll_
Sunset Near Jerusalem.............. _Corwin Knapp Linson_
A Return in Triumph................ _T. De Witt Talmage_
A Return in Defeat................. _Henry W. Grady_

In Our Forefathers' Day............ _T. De Witt Talmage_
Cassius against Cśsar.............. _William Shakespeare_
The Spirit of the South............ _Henry W. Grady_
Something Rankling Here............ _Daniel Webster_
Faith in the People................ _John Bright_
The French against Hayti........... _Wendell Phillips_
The Necessity of Force............. _John M. Thurston_
Against War with Mexico............ _Thomas Corwin_
The Murder of Lovejoy.............. _Wendell Phillips_

A Tale of the Plains............... _Theodore Roosevelt_
Gunga Din.......................... _Rudyard Kipling_
Address of Sergeant Buzfuz......... _Charles Dickens_
A Natural Philosopher.............. _Maccabe_
Response to a Toast................ _Litchfield Moseley_
Partridge at the Play.............. _Henry Fielding_
A Man's a Man for a That........... _Robert Burns_
Artemus Ward's Lecture............. _Charles Farrar Brown_
Jim Bludso, of the Prairie Belle... _John Hay_
The Trial of Abner Barrow.......... _Richard Harding Davis_



The Benefits of a College Education _Abbott Lawrence Lowell_
What the College Gives............. _Le Baron Russell Briggs_
Memorial Day Address............... _John D. Long_
William McKinley................... _John Hay_
Robert E. Lee...................... _John W. Daniel_
Farewell Address to the United States Senate.
...................................._Henry Clay_
The Death of Garfield.............. _James G. Blaine_
The Second Inaugural Address....... _Abraham Lincoln_
The Death of Prince Albert......... _Benjamin Disraeli_
An Appreciation of Mr. Gladstone... _Arthur J. Balfour_
William E. Gladstone............... _Lord Rosebery_
The Soldier's Creed................ _Horace Porter_
Competition in College............. _Abbott Lawrence Lowell_

A Master of the Situation.......... _James T. Fields_
Wit and Humor...................... _Minot J. Savage_
A Message to Garcia................ _Elbert Hubbard_
Shakespeare's "Mark Antony"........ _Anonymous_
Andrť and Hale..................... _Chauncey M. Depew_
The Battle of Lexington............ _Theodore Parker_
The Homes of the People............ _Henry W. Grady_
General Ulysses S. Grant........... _Canon G. W. Farrar_
American Courage................... _Sherman Hoar_
The Minutemen of the Revolution.... _George William Curtis_
Paul Revere's Ride................. _George William Curtis_
The Arts of the Ancients........... _Wendell Phillips_
A Man without a Country............ _Edward Everett Hale_
The Execution of Rodriguez......... _Richard Harding Davis_

The Flood of Books................. _Henry van Dyke_
Effectiveness in Speaking.......... _William Jennings Bryan_
Books, Literature and the People... _Henry van Dyke_
Education for Business............. _Charles William Eliot_
The Beginnings of American Oratory. _Thomas Wentworth Higginson_
Daniel Webster, the Man............ _Thomas Wentworth Higginson_
The Enduring Value of Speech....... _Thomas Wentworth Higginson_
To College Girls................... _Le Baron Russell Briggs_
The Art of Acting.................. _Henry Irving_
Address to the Freshman Class at Harvard University
...................................._Charles William Eliot_
With Tennyson at Farringford....... _By His Son_
Notes on Speech-Making............. _Brander Matthews_
Hunting the Grizzly................ _Theodore Roosevelt_


On Retaining the Philippine Islands _George F. Hoar_
On Retaining the Philippine Islands _William McKinley_
Debate on the Tariff............... _Thomas B. Reed_
Debate on the Tariff............... _Charles F. Crisp_
South Carolina and Massachusetts... _Robert Y. Hayne_
South Carolina and Massachusetts... _Daniel Webster_
The Republican Party............... _John Hay_
Nominating Ulysses S. Grant........ _Roscoe Conkling_
The Choice of a Party.............. _Roscoe Conkling_
Nominating John Sherman............ _James A. Garfield_
The Democratic Party............... _William E. Russell_
The Call to Democrats.............. _Alton B. Parker_
Nominating Woodrow Wilson.......... _John W. Wescott_
Democratic Faith................... _William E. Russell_
England and America................ _John Bright_
On Home Rule in Ireland............ _William E. Gladstone_

The Dartmouth College Case......... _Daniel Webster_
In Defense of the Kennistons....... _Daniel Webster_
In Defense of the Kennistons, II... _Daniel Webster_
In Defense of John E. Cook......... _D. W. Voorhees_
In Defense of the Soldiers......... _Josiah Quincy, Jr._
In Defense of the Soldiers, II..... _Josiah Quincy, Jr._
In Defense of the Soldiers, III.... _Josiah Quincy, Jr._
In Defense of Lord George Gordon... _Lord Thomas Erskine_
Pronouncing Sentence for High Treason
................................... _Sir Alfred Wills_
The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson.. _George S. Boutwell_
The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson.. _William M. Evarts_
The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, II
................................... _William M. Evarts_

At a University Club Dinner........ _Henry E. Howland_
The Evacuation of New York......... _Joseph H. Choate_
Ties of Kinship.................... _Sir Edwin Arnold_
Canada, England and the United States
................................... _Sir Wilfred Laurier_
Monsieur and Madame................ _Paul Blouet (Max O'Rell)_
The Typical American............... _Henry W. Grady_
The Pilgrim Mothers................ _Joseph H. Choate_
Bright Land to Westward............ _E. O. Wolcott_
Woman.............................. _Theodore Tilton_
Abraham Lincoln.................... _Horace Porter_
To Athletic Victors................ _Henry E. Howland_

Charles Dickens.................... _William Watson_
The Mariners of England............ _Thomas Campbell_
Class Poem......................... _Langdon Warner_
A Troop of the Guard............... _Hermann Hagedorn, Jr._
The Boys........................... _Oliver Wendell Holmes_

The Mob Conquered.................. _George William Curtis_
An Example of Faith................ _Henry W. Grady_
The Rail-Splitter.................. _H. L. Williams_
O'Connell's Wit.................... _Wendell Phillips_
A Reliable Team.................... _Theodore Roosevelt_
Meg's Marriage..................... _Robert Collyer_
Outdoing Mrs. Partington........... _Sidney Smith_
Circumstance not a Cause........... _Sidney Smith_
More Terrible than the Lions....... _A. A. McCormick_
Irving, the Actor.................. _John De Morgan_
Wendell Phillips's Tact............ _James Burton Pond_
Baked Beans and Culture............ _Eugene Field_
Secretary Chase's Chin-Fly......... _F. B. Carpenter_



Happily, it is no longer necessary to argue that public speaking is a
worthy subject for regular study in school and college. The teaching of
this subject, in one form or another, is now fairly well established.
In each of the larger universities, including professional schools and
summer schools, the students electing the courses in speaking number
well into the hundreds. These courses are now being more generally
placed among those counted towards the academic degrees. The demand for
trained teachers in the various branches of the work in schools and
colleges is far above the present supply. Educators in general look
with more favor upon this kind of instruction, recognizing its
practical usefulness and its cultural value. The question of the
present time, then, is not whether or not the subject shall have a
place. Some sort of place it always has had and always will have.
Present discussion should rather bear upon the policy and the method of
that instruction, the qualifications to be required of teachers, and
the consideration for themselves and their work that teachers have a
right to expect.

Naturally, public speaking in the form of debating has received favor
among educators. It seems to serve the ends of practice in speaking and
it gives also good mental discipline. The high regard for debating is
not misplaced. We can hardly overestimate the good that debating has
done to the subject of speaking in the schools and colleges. The rigid
intellectual discipline involved in debating has helped to establish
public speaking in the regular curriculum, thus gaining for it, and for
teachers in it, greater respect. To bring training in speech into close
relation with training in thought, and with the study of expression in
English, is most desirable. This, however, does _not_ mean that
training in speech, as a distinct object in itself, should be allowed
to fall into comparative neglect. It is quite possible that, along with
the healthy disapproval of false elocution and meaningless declamation,
may come an underestimation of the important place of a right kind and
a due degree of technical training in voice and general form.

In a recent book on public speaking, the statement is made that it is
all well enough, if it so happens, for a speaker to have a pleasing
voice, but it is not essential. This, though true in a sense, is
misleading, and much teaching of this sort would be unfortunate for
young speakers. It would seem quite unnecessary to say that beauty of
voice is not in itself a primary object in vocal training for public
speaking. The object is to make voices effective. In the effective use
of any other instrument, we apply the utmost skill for the perfect
adjustment or coordination of all the means of control. We do this for
the attainment of power, for the conserving of energy, for the insuring
of endurance and ease of operation. This is the end in the training of
the voice. It is to avoid friction. It is to prevent nervous strain,
muscular distortion, and failing power, and to secure easy response to
the will of the speaker. The point not wholly understood or heeded is
that, as a rule, the unpleasing voice is an indication of ill
adjustment and friction. It denotes a mechanism wearing on itself--it
means a voice that will weaken or fail before its time--a voice that
needs repair.

Since speech is to express a speaker's thought, training in speech
should not be altogether dissociated from training in thinking. It
ought to go hand in hand, indeed, with the study of English, from first
to last. But training in voice and in the method of speech is a
technical matter. It ought not to be left to the haphazard treatment,
the intense spurring on, of vocally unskilled coaches for speaking
contests. Discussions about the teaching of speaking are often very
curious. We are frequently told by what means a few great orators have
succeeded, but we are hardly ever informed of the causes from which
many other speakers have been embarrassed or have failed. A book or
essay is written to prove, from the individual experience of the
author, the infallibility of a method. He was able to succeed, the
argument runs, only by this or that means; therefore all should do as
he did. It seems very plausible and attractive to read, for instance,
that to succeed in speaking, it is only necessary to plunge in and be
in earnest. But another writer points out that this is quite absurd;
that many poor speakers have not lacked in intense earnestness and
sincerity; that it isn't feeling or intense spirit alone that insures
success, but it is the attainment as well of a vocal method. Yet he
goes on to argue that this vocal method, this forming of a public
speaking voice and style, cannot be rightly gained from the teachers;
it must be acquired through the exercise of each man's own will; if a
man finds he is going wrong he must will to go right--as if many men
had not persistently but unsuccessfully exercised their will to this
very end. It is so easy, and so attractive, to resolve all problems
into one idea. President Woodrow Wilson, of Princeton University, once
said that he always avoided the man or the book that proclaimed one
idea for the correcting of society's ills. These ideas on which books
or essays are written are too obviously fallacious to need extended
comment; the wonder is that they are often quoted and commended as
being beneficial in their teaching. If we want to row or sprint or play
golf, we do not simply go in and do our utmost; we apply the best
technical skill to the art; we seek to learn how, from the experience
of the past, and through the best instructors obtainable. Both common
sense and experience show that the use of the human voice in the art of
speaking is not the one thing, among all things, that cannot be
successfully taught. The results of vocal teaching show, on the
contrary, from multitudes of examples, from volumes of testimony, that
there are few branches of instruction wherein the specially trained
teacher is so much needed, and can be so effective as in the art of

In an experience extending over many years, an experience dealing with
about all the various forms of public speaking and vocal teaching, the
present writer has tried many methods, conducted classes on several
different plans, learned the needs, observed the efforts, considered
the successes and failures, of many men and women of various ages and
of many callings. The constant and insistent fact in all this period of
experience has been that skillful, technical instruction, as such, is
the one kind of instruction that should always be provided where public
speaking is taught, and the one that the student should not fail to
secure when it is at hand. Other elements in good speech-making may, if
necessary, be obtained from other sources. The teacher of speaking
should teach speech. He should teach something else also, but he
should, as a technician, teach that. The multitude of men and women
who, in earlier and later life, come, in vocal trouble, to seek help
from the experienced teacher, and the abundance of testimony as to the
satisfactory results; the repeated evidences of failure to produce
rightly trained voices wholly by so-called inspirational methods; the
frequent evidences of pernicious vocal results from the forcing of
young voices in the overintense and hasty efforts made in preparing for
prize speaking, acting, and debating,--all these may not come to the
understanding of the ordinary observer; they may not often, perhaps,
come within the experience of the exceptionally gifted individuals who
are usually cited as examples of distinguished success; they cannot
impress themselves on educators who have little or no relation with
this special subject; they naturally come into the knowledge and
experience of the specially trained teacher of public speaking, who is
brought into intimate relations with the subject and deals with all
sorts and conditions of men. Out of this experience comes the strong
conviction that the teacher of public speaking should be a vocal
technician and a vocal physician, able to teach constructively and to
treat correctively, knowing all he can of all that has been taught
before, but teaching only as much of what he knows as is necessary to
any individual.

For the dignity and worth of the teaching, the teacher of speaking
should be trained, and should be a trainer, as has been indirectly
said, in some other subject--in English literature or composition, in
debating, history, or what not. He should be one of the academic
faculty--concerned with thought, which speech expresses. He should not,
for his other subject, be mainly concerned with gymnastics or
athletics; he should not, for his own good and the consequent good of
his work, be wholly taken up merely with the teaching of technical form
in speaking. He should not be merely--if at all--a coach in inter-
collegiate contests; nor should his service to an institution be
adjudged mainly by the results of such contests. He should be an
independent, intellectually grown and growing man, one who--in his
exceptionally intimate relations with students--will have a large and
right influence on student life. The offer recently held out by a
university of a salary and an academic rank equal to its best, to a
sufficiently qualified instructor in public speaking, was one of the
several signs of a sure movement of to-day in the right direction--the
demand for a man of high character and broad culture, specially skilled
in the technical subject he was to teach, and the providing of a worthy

One fact that needs to be impressed upon governing bodies of school and
college is that the cultivation of good speaking cannot but be
unsatisfactory when it is continued over only a very brief time. It may
only do mischief. A considerable period is necessary, as is the case
with other subjects, for reaching the student intelligence, for molding
the faculties, for maturing the powers, for adapting method to the
individual, and for bringing the personality out through the method, so
that method disappears. Senator George F. Hoar once gave very sensible
advice in an address to an audience of Harvard students. He did not
content himself with dwelling on the inevitable platitude, first have
something to say, and then say it; he said he had been, in all his
career, at a special disadvantage in public speaking, from the want of
early training in the use of his voice; and he urged that students
would do well not only to take advantage of such training in college,
but to have their teacher, if it were possible, follow them, for a
time, into their professional work. This idea was well exemplified in
the case of Phillips Brooks--a speaker of spontaneity, simplicity, and
splendid power. It is said that, in the period of his pulpit work, in
the midst of his absorbing church labors, he made it a duty to go from
time to time for a period of work with his teacher of voice, that he
might be kept from falling back into wrong ways. It is often said that,
if a man has it in him, he will speak well anyway. It is emphatically
the man who has it in him, the man of intense temperament, like that of
Phillips Brooks, who most needs the balance wheel, the sure reliance,
of technique. That this technique should not be too technical; that
form should not be too formal; that teaching should not be too good, or
do too much, is one of the principles of good teaching. The point
insisted on is that a considerable time is needed, as it is in other
kinds of teaching, for thoroughly working out a few essential
principles; for overcoming a few obstinate faults; for securing matured
results by the right process of gradual development.

There is much cause for gratification in the evidences of a growing
appreciation, in all quarters, of the place due to spoken English, as a
study to be taught continuously side by side with written English. Much
progress has also been made toward making youthful platform speaking,
as well as youthful writing, more rational in form, more true in
spirit, more useful for its purpose. In good time written and spoken
English, conjoined with disciplinary training in thought and
imagination, will both become firmly established in their proper place
as subjects to be thoroughly and systematically taught. Good teaching
will become traditional, and good teachers not rare. And among the
specialized courses in public speaking an important place should always
be given to an exact training in voice and in the whole art of
effective delivery.





The common trouble in using the voice for the more vigorous or intense
forms of speaking is a contraction or straining of the throat. This
impedes the free flow of voice, causing impaired tone, poor
enunciation, and unhealthy physical conditions. Students should,
therefore, be constantly warned against the least beginnings of this
fault. The earlier indications of it may not be observed, or the nature
of the trouble may not be known, by the untrained speaker. But it ought
to have, from the first, the attention of a skilled teacher, for the
more deep-seated it becomes, the harder is its cure. So very common is
the "throaty" tone and so connected is throat pressure with every other
vocal imperfection, that the avoiding or the correcting of this one
fault demands constant watchfulness in all vigorous vocal work. The way
to avoid the faulty control of voice is, of course, to learn at the
proper time the general principles of what singers call voice
production. These principles are few and, in a sense, are very simple,
but they are not easily made perfectly clear in writing, and a perfect
application of them, even in the simpler forms of speaking, often
requires persistent practice. It will be the aim here to state only
what the student is most likely to understand and profit by, and to
leave the rest to the personal guidance of a teacher.

The control of the voice, so far as it can be a conscious physical
operation, is determined chiefly by the action of the breathing muscles
about the waist and the lower part of the chest. The voice may be said
to have its foundation in this part of the physical man. This
foundation, or center of control, will be rightly established, not by
any very positive physical action; not by a decided raising of the
chest; not by any such marked expansion or contraction as to bring
physical discomfort or rigid muscular conditions. When the breath is
taken in, by an easy, natural expansion, much as air is taken into a
bellows, there is, to a certain degree, a firming of the breathing
muscles; but this muscular tension is felt by the speaker or singer, if
felt at all, simply as a comfortable fullness around, and slightly
above, the waistline, probably more in front than elsewhere. An eminent
teacher of singing tells his pupils to draw the breath into the
stomach. That probably suggests the sensation. When the breath has been
taken in, it is to be gently withheld,--not given up too freely,--and
the tone is formed on the top, so to speak, of this body of breath,
chiefly, of course, in the mouth and head. For the stronger and larger
voice the breath is not driven out and dissipated, but the tone is
intensified and given completer resonance within--within the nasal or
head cavities, somewhat within the pharynx and chest. This body of
breath, easily held in good control, by the lower breathing muscles,
forms what is called the vocal "support." It is a fixed base of
control. It is a fundamental condition, and is to be steadily
maintained in all the varied operations of the voice.

Since this fundamental control of voice is so important, breathing
exercises are often prescribed for regular practice. Such exercises,
when directed by a thoroughly proficient instructor, may be vocally
effective, and beneficial to health. Unwisely practiced, they may be
unfitted to vocal control and of positive physical harm. Moderately
taking the breath at frequent intervals, as a preparation or
reŽnforcement for speaking, should become an unconscious habit.
Excessive filling of the lungs or pressing downward upon the abdomen
should be avoided. In general, the hearing of the voice, and an
expressional purpose in making the voice, are the better means of
acquiring good breathing. For the purposes of public speaking, at
least, it is seldom necessary to do much more, in regard to the
breathing, than to instruct a student against going wrong. The speaker
should have a settled feeling of sufficiency; he should hold himself
well together, physically and morally, avoiding nervous agitation and
physical collapse; he should allow the breath freedom rather than put
it under unnatural constraint. Perfect breathing can only be known by
certain qualities in the voice. When it is best, the process is least
observed. The student learns the method of breathing mainly by noting
the result, by rightly hearing his voice. He must, after all, practice
through the hearing.

The discussion of vocal support has brought us to the second main
principle, the government of the throat. The right control of the
voice, by placing a certain degree of tension upon the breathing
muscles, tends to take away all pressure and constraint from the
throat, leaving that passage seemingly open and free, so that the
breath body or column; as some conceive it, seems almost unbroken in
continued speech, much as it is, or should be, in prolonging tone in
singing. The throat is opened in a relaxed rather than a constrained
way, so as to give free play for the involuntary action of the delicate
vocal muscles connected with the larynx, which determine all the finer
variations of voice. Whatever kind of vocal effort is made, the student
should constantly guard himself against the least throat stiffening or
contraction, against what vocalists call a "throat grip." He is very
likely to make some effort with the throat, or vocal muscles, when
putting the voice to any unusual test--when prolonging tone, raising or
lowering the pitch, giving sharp inflections, or striking hard upon
words for emphasis. In these and other vocal efforts the throat muscles
should be left free to do their own work in their own way. The throat
is to be regarded as a way through; the motive power is below the
throat; the place for giving sound or resonance, to voice, for stamping
upon words their form and character, is in the mouth, front and back,
and especially in the head.

The last of the three main considerations, the concentration of tone
where it naturally seems to be formed, is often termed voice "placing,"
or "placement." The possible objection to this term is that it may
suggest a purely artificial or arbitrary treatment or method. Rightly
understood, it is the following of nature. Its value is that it
emphasizes the constancy of this one of the constant factors in voice.
Its result is a certain kind and degree of monotony; without that
particular kind of monotony the voice is faulty. When the tone is
forced out of its proper place, it is dissipated and more or less lost.
A student once told the writer, when complimented on the good placement
of his voice, that he learned this in his summer employment as a public
crier at the door of a show tent. He said he could not possibly have
endured the daily wear upon the voice in any other way. Voices are
heard among teamsters, foremen on the street, and auctioneers, that
conform to this and other principles perfectly. We may say that in such
cases the process of learning is unconscious. In the case of the
untaught student it was conscious, and was exactly what he would have
been instructed to do by a teacher. The point is that many cannot learn
by themselves, and our more unconscious doings are likely to become our
bad habits.

Just what this voice placement is can perhaps be observed simply by
sounding the letter "m," or giving an ordinary hum, as the mother sings
to the child. It is merely finding the natural, instinctive basal form
of the voice, and making all the vowels simply as variations of this
form. The hum is often practiced, with a soft pure quality, by singers.
It is varied by the sound of "ng," as in "rung" or "hung," and the
elemental sound of "l." The practice should always be varied, however,
by a fuller sounding of the rounder vowels, lest the voice become too
much confined or thinned. The speaker, like the singer, must find out
how, by a certain adjustment all along the line from the breathing
center to the point of issue of the breath at the front of the mouth,
he can easily maintain a constant hitting place, to serve as the hammer
head; one singing place for carrying the voice steadily through a
sustained passage; one place where, as it were, the tone is held in
check so it will not break through itself and go to pieces,--a "placing
of the voice," which is to be preserved in every sort of change or play
of tone, whether in one's own character or an assumed character; a
constant focus or a fixed center of resonance, a forming of tone along
the roof of the mouth and well forward in the head, the safeguard and,
practically, the one most effective idea in the government of voice.

And now it should be hastily stated that this excellent idea, like
other good things, may be easily abused. If the tone is pushed forward
or crowded into the head or held tight in its place, in the least
degree, there is a drawing or a cramping in the throat; there is a
"pressing" of the voice. It should be remembered that the constancy of
high placement of tone depends upon the certainty of the tone
foundation; that, after all, the voice must rest upon itself, and must
not sound as if it were up on tip-toe or on stilts; that tone placement
is merely a convenient term for naming a natural condition.

As a final word on this part of the discussion, the student should of
course be impressed with the idea that though these three features of
vocal mechanism have been considered separately, all ideas about voice
are ultimately to become one idea. The voice is to be thought of as
belonging to the whole man, and is to become the spontaneous expression
of his feelings and will; it should not draw attention to any
particular part of the physical man; whatever number of conditions may
be considered, the voice is finally to be one condition, a condition of
normal freedom.

A lack of freedom is indicated in the voice, as in other kinds of
mechanism by some sign of friction--by a harsh tone from a constrained
throat; by a nasal or a muffled tone, from some obstruction in the
nasal passages of the head, either because of abnormal physical
conditions, or because of an unnatural direction of the breath, mainly
due probably to speaking with a closed mouth; by a bound-up, heavy,
"chesty" tone, resulting from a labored method of breathing.

Voice in its freer state should be pure, clear, round, fairly musical,
and fairly deep and rich. Its multitude of expressive qualities had
better be cultivated by the true purpose to express, in the simplest
way, sentiments appropriated to one's self through an understanding and
a comprehensive appreciation of various passages of good literature. As
soon as possible all technique is to be forgotten, unless the
consciousness is pricked by something going wrong.

Voices in general need, in the larger development, to be rounded. The
vowel forms "oo" as in moon, "o" as in roll, and "a" as in saw, greatly
help in giving a rounded form to the general speech; for all vowels can
be molded somewhat into the form of these rounder ones. The vowels "e"
as in meet, "a" as in late, short "e" as in met, short "a" as in sat,
are likely to be made very sharp, thin, and harsh. When a passage for
practice begins with round vowels, as for example, "Roll on, thou deep
and dark blue ocean, roll!" the somewhat rounded form of the lips, and
the opened condition of the throat produced in forming the rounder
vowels, can be to some extent maintained through the whole of the
passage, in forming all the vowels; and this will give, by repeated
practice, a gradually rounded and deepened general character to the
voice. On the other hand the thinner, sharper vowels may serve to give
keenness and point to tones too thick and dull. In applying these
suggestions, as well as all other vocal suggestions, moderation and
good sense must be exercised, for the sake of the good outward
appearance and the good effect of the speaking. The chief vowel forms
running from the deepest to the most shallow are: "oo" as in moon, "o"
as in roll, "a" as in saw, "a" as in far, "a" as in say, "e" as in see.

Since the making of tones means practically the shaping of vowels,
something should here be said about vowel forms. The mouth opening
should of course be freely shaped for the best sounding of the vowels.
For the vowel "a" as in far, the mouth is rather fully opened; for "a"
as in saw, it is opened deep, that is, the mouth passage is somewhat
narrowed, so as to allow increased depth. The vowel "o," as in no, has
two forms, the clear open "o," and the "o" somewhat covered by a closer
form of the lips, Commonly, when the vowel is prolonged, the initial
form, that is the open "o," is held, with the closed form, like "oo" in
moon, touched briefly as the tone is finished. So with long "i" (y), as
in thy, and "ou," as in thou--the first form is like a broad "a" as in
far, with short "i" (sit) ending the "i" (y), and "oo" (moon) ending
the "ou." This final sound, though sometimes accentuated for humorous
effect, is usually not to be made prominent. The sound of "oi," as in
voice, has the main form of "aw" as in saw, and the final form in short
"i," as in pin. The vowel "u" is sounded like "oo" (moon) in a few
words, as in rule, truth. Generally, it sounds about like "ew" in new
or mew. In some of the forms the front of the mouth will be open, in
some half open, and in some, as in the case of long "e" (meet), nearly
closed. Whatever the degree of opening, the jaw should never be allowed
to become stiffly set, nor the tongue nor lips to be held tight, in any
degree or way. These faults cause a tightening in the throat, and
affect the character of the tone. It will generally be advantage to the
tone if the lips are trained to be very slightly protruding, in bell
shape, and if the corners of the mouth be not allowed to droop, but be
made very slightly to curve upward. The tongue takes of course various
positions for different vowels. For our purposes, it may be sufficient
to say that it will play its part best if it be not stiffened but is
left quite free and elastic, perhaps quite relaxed, and if the tip of
it be made to play easily down behind the lower teeth.

Since voice has here been discussed in an objective sort of way, it is
fitting to emphasize the importance of what is called naturalness, or
more correctly, simplicity. Everybody desires this sort of result. It
can readily be seen, however, that about everything we do is a second
nature; is done, that is to say, in the acquired, acceptable,
conventional way. Voice and speech are largely determined by
surrounding influences, and what we come to regard as natural may be
only an acquired bad habit, which is, in fact, quite unnatural. Voice
should certainly be what we call human. Better it should have some
human faults than be smoothed out into negative perfection, without the
true ring, the spunk of individuality. There is, nevertheless, a best
naturalness, or second nature, and a worst. The object of training is
to find the best.

In this discussion of voice some of the ideas often applied to the
first steps in the cultivation of singing have been presented, as those
most effective also for training in speech. Although, on the surface,
singing and speaking are quite different, fundamentally they are the
same. Almost all persons have, if they will use it, an ear for musical
pitch and tone, and the neglect to cultivate, in early life, the
musical hearing and the singing tone is a mistake. To prospective
public speakers it is something like a misfortune. The best speakers
have had voices that sang in their speaking. This applies distinctly to
the speaking, for example, of Wendell Phillips, who is commonly called
the most colloquial of our public speakers. It has often been commented
on in the case of Gladstone, and applies peculiarly to some of our
present-day speakers, who would be called, not orators, but impressive
talkers. The meaning is, not of course that speaking should sound like
singing, or necessarily like oratory, but that to the trained ear the
best speaking has fundamentally the singing conditions, and the voice
has singing qualities; and the elementary exercises designed for
singing are excellent, in their simpler forms and methods, for the
speaking voice. In carrying out this idea in voice training, the
selections here given for the earliest exercises, are such as naturally
call for some slight approach to the singing tone. Some are in the
spirit and style of song or hymn; others are in the form of address to
distant auditors, wherein the reciter would call to a distance, or
"sing out," as we say. This kind of speaking is a way of quickly
"bringing out" the voice. Young students especially are very apt in
this, getting the idea at once, though needing, as a rule, special
cautions and guidance for keeping the proper vocal conditions, so as to
prevent "forcing." The passages are simple in spirit and form. They
carry on one dominant feeling, needing little variation of voice. The
idea is to render them in a way near to the monotone, that the student
may learn to control one tone, so to speak, or to speak nearly in one
key, before doing the more varied tones of familiar speech or of
complex feeling. We might say the passages are to be read in some
degree like the chant; but the chant is likely to bring an excess of
head resonance and is too mechanical. The true spirit of the selections
is to be given, from the first, but reduced to its very simplest form.
Difficulties arise, in this first step, in the case of two classes of
student: those who lack sentiment or imagination, or at least the
faculty of vocally expressing it, and those with an excess of feeling.
The former class have to be mentally awakened; for some motive element,
aesthetic appreciation or imaginative purpose, should play a part, as
has been said, even in technical vocal training. The latter class must
be restrained. Excessive emotion either chokes off expression, or runs
away with itself. Calmness, evenness, poise, the easy control that
comes from a degree of relaxation, without loss of buoyancy,--these are
the conditions for good accomplishment of any kind. This self-mastery
the high-strung, ardent spirit must learn, in order to become really
strong. This is accomplished, in the case of a nervous temperament, not
by tightening up and trying hard, but by relaxing, by letting down. In
the use of these passages the voice will be set at first slightly high
in pitch, in order to help in keeping a continuous sounding of tone
against the roof of the mouth and to a proper degree in the head. This
average pitch, or key, or at least the character of the tone, will be
maintained without much change, and with special care that the tone be
kept up in its place at the ends of lines or sentences, and be kept
well fixed on its breath foundation. The simpler inflections indicating
the plain meaning, will of course be observed, the tone will be kept
easily supported by the frequently recovered breath that is under it.
The back of the mouth will seem to be constantly somewhat open. There
will be no attempt at special power, but only a free, mellow, flowing
tone of moderate strength. In the exercise each voice will be treated,
in detail, according to its particular needs, and in each teacher's own

At the time of student life, when physical conditions are not matured,
the counsel should repeatedly be given, not only that the voice, though
used often and regularly, should be used moderately, but also that the
voice should be kept youthful--youthful, if it can be, even in age--but
especially in youth, whatever the kind of literature used for practice.
Also youth should be counseled not to try to make a voice like the
voice of some one else, some speaker, or actor, or teacher. It will be
much the best if it is just the student's own.


In the earliest exercises here given the tone will be, for the best and
most immediate effect, kept running on somewhat in a straight line, so
to speak; will have a certain sameness of sound; will be perhaps
somewhat monotonous, because kept pretty much in one key, or in one
average degree of pitch. It will perhaps be necessary to make the
utterance for the time somewhat artificial. The voice is in the
artificial stage, as is the work of an oarsman, for example, in
learning the parts of the stroke, or that of a golfer in learning the
"swing," although in the case of some students, when the vocal
conditions are good and the tone is well balanced, very little of the
artificial process is necessary. In that case the voice simply needs,
in its present general form, to be developed.

The next step in the training is to try a more varied use of the voice,
without a loss of what has been acquired as to formation of tone. The
student is to make himself able to slide the voice up and down in
pitch, by what is called inflection, to raise or lower the pitch by
varied intervals, momentarily to enlarge or diminish the tone, in
expressive ways; in short, to adapt the improved tone, the more
effective method of voice control, to more varied speech. In the early
practice for getting tone variation, the student must guard most
carefully against "forcing." Additional difficulties arise when we have
vocal changes, and moderate effort, in the degree of the change, is
best. In running the tone up, one should let the voice take its own
way. The tone should not be pushed or held by any slightest effort at
the throat. The control should, as has been said, be far below the
throat. In running an inflection from low to high, the tone may be
allowed, especially in the earlier practice, to thin out at the top.
And always when the pitch is high the tone should be smaller, as it is
on a musical instrument, though it should have a consistent depth and
dignity from its proper degree of connection with the chest. This
consistent character in the upper voice is attained by giving the tone
a bit of pomp or nobleness of quality. In taking a low pitch there is,
among novices, always a tendency to bear down on the tone in order to
gain strength or to give weight to utterance. The voice is thus crowded
into, or on, the throat. The voice should never be pushed down or
pressed back in the low pitch. This practice leads to raggedness of
tone, and finally to virtual loss of the lower voice. The voice should
fall of itself with only that degree of force which is legitimately
given by the breath tension, produced easily, though firmly, by the
breathing muscles. Breadth will be given to the tone by some degree of
expansion at the back of the mouth, or in the pharynx. As soon as can
be, the speech should be brought down to the utmost of simplicity and
naturalness, so that the thought of literature can be expressed with
reality and truth; can be made to sound exactly as if it came as an
unstudied, spontaneous expression of the student's own mind, and yet so
it can be heard, so it will be adequate, so it will be pleasing in
sound. The improved tone is to become the student's inevitable,
everyday voice.


The term enunciation means the formation of words, including right
vocal shape to the vowels and right form to the consonants.
Pronunciation is scholastic, relating to the word accent and the vowel
sound. Authority for this is in the dictionary. Enunciation, belonging
to elocution, is the act of forming those authorized sounds into
finished speech.

There is a common error regarding enunciation. It is usual, if a
speaker is not easily understood, to say that he should "articulate"
more clearly; that is, make the consonants more pronounced, and young
students are thus often urged into wrongly directed effort with the
tongue and lips. Sometimes in books, articulation "stunts," in the form
of nonsense alliterations, are prescribed, by which all the vowels are
likely to be chewed into consonants. The result is usually an
overexertion, and a consequent tightening, of the articulating muscles.
At first, and for a time, it may appear that this forcing of the
articulation brings the desired result of clearer speech, but it will,
in the end, be destructive to voice and bring incoherent utterance.
Articulation exercises too difficult for the master, should not be
given to the novice. All teachers of singing train voices, at first, on
the vowel, and it should be known that, without right vowel, or tone,
formation, efforts at good articulation are futile. Every technical
vocal fault must be referred back to the fundamental condition of right
formation of tone, that is, the vowel. Sputtering, hissing, biting,
snapping, of consonants is not enunciation. The student should learn
how without constraint, to prolong vowels; learn, if you please, the
fundamentals of singing, and articulation, the formation of consonants,
the jointing of syllables, will become easy. The reason for this is
that when the vowel tone is rightly produced, all the vocal muscles are
freed; the tongue, lips, and jaw act without constraint.

The principle of rhythm simplifies greatly the problem of enunciation.
It is easier, not only to make good tone, but also to speak words, in
the reading of verse than of prose. It is much easier to read a
rhythmical piece of prose than one lacking in rhythm. All prose, then,
should be rendered with as much rhythmical flow as is allowed
consistently with its spirit and meaning. Care must be taken of course
that no singsong effect occurs; that the exact meaning receives first
attention. In case of long, hard words, ease is attained by making a
slight pause before the word or before its preposition or article or
other closely attached word, and by giving a strong beat to its
accented syllable or syllables, with little effort on the subordinate

The particular weakness among Americans, in the speaking of words, is
failure adequately to form the nasal, or head, sounds. The letters "l,"
"m," "n," are called vowel consonants. They can be given continuous
sound, a head resonance. This sounding may be carried to a fault, or
affectation; but commonly it is insufficiently done, and it should be
among the first objects of cultivation in vocal practice. The humming
of these head sounds, with very moderate force, is excellent for
developing and clearing this resonance. The "ng" sound, as in rung, may
be added.

Improper division of words into syllables is a common fault. The word
"constitution," for example, is made "cons-titution," instead of "con-
stitution;" "prin-ciple" is pronounced "prints-iple." A clean, correct
formation should be made by slightly holding, and completing the
accented syllable. The little word "also" is often called "als-o" or
"als-so" or "alt-so"; chrysanthemum is pronounced "chrysant-themum";
coun-try is called "country," band so forth. In the case of doubled
consonants, as in the word "mellow," "commemorate," "bubble," and the
like, a momentary holding of the first consonant, so that a bit of
separate impulse is given to the second, makes more perfect speaking.
There is a slight difference between "mel-low" and "mel-ow," "bub-ble"
and "bub-le," "com-memorate" and "com-emorate." These finer
distinctions, if one cares to make speech accurate and refined, can be
observed in words ending in "ence" and "ance" as in "guidance" and
"credence"; in words with the ending "al," "el," or "le," as in
"general," "principal," "final," "vessel," "rebel," "principle," and
"little." If that troublesome word "separate" were from the beginning
rightly pronounced, it would probably be less often wrongly spelled.
One should hasten to say, however, that over-nicety in enunciation,
pedantic exactness, obtrusive "elocutionary" excellence, or any sort of
labored or affected effort should be carefully guarded against. The
line of distinction between what is perfect and what is slightly
strained is a fine one. Very often, for example, one hears such endings
as "or" in "creator," "ed" in "dedicated," "ess" in "readiness," "men"
in "gentlemen," pronounced with incorrect prominence. These syllables,
being very subordinate, should not be made to stand out with undue
distinctness, and though the vowels should not be distorted into a
wrong form, they should be obscured. In "gentlemen," for example, the
"e" is, according to the dictionary, an "obscure" vowel, and the word
is pronounced almost as "gentlem'n,"--not "gentle_mun_," of course,
but not "gentlem_e_n." The fault in such forms is more easily
avoided by throwing a sharp accent on the accented syllable,
letting the other syllables fall easily out. The expression of
greeting, "Ladies and gentlemen," should have a strong accent on each
first syllable of the two important words, with little prominence given
to other syllables or the connecting word; as, "La'dies 'nd

In the same class of errors is that of making an extra syllable in such
words as "even," "seven," "heaven," "eleven," and "given," where
properly the "e" is elided, leaving "ev'n," "heav'n," and so forth. The
mouth should remain closed when the first syllable is pronounced; the
"n" is then simply sounded in the head. The same treatment should be
given to such words as "chasm" and "enthusiasm." If the mouth is opened
after the first part of the word is sounded, we have "chas-_u_m,"
"enthusias-_u_m." The little words "and," "as," "at" and the like
should, of course, when not emphatic, be very lightly touched, with the
vowel hardly formed, and the mouth only slightly opened. The word "and"
is best sounded, where not emphatic, with light touch, slight opening
of the mouth, and hardly any forming of the vowel; almost like "'nd."
These words should be connected closely with the word which follows, as
if they were a subordinate syllable of that word.

Often we hear such words as "country," "city," and their plurals,
pronounced "countree," "citee," and "citees"; "ladies" is called
"ladees." The sound should properly be that of short "i" not of long
"e." The vowel sound, short "a," as in "cast," "fast," "can't," must be
treated as a localism, and yet it is hardly necessary to adhere to any
decided extreme because of local associations. Vocally, the very narrow
sound of short "a," called "Western," is impossible. It can't be sung;
in speech it is usually dry and harsh. As a matter of taste the very
broad sound of the short "a," when it is made like "a" in "far," is
objectionable because it is extraordinary. There is a form between
these extremes, the correct short "a"; this ought to be acceptable
anywhere. It is suggestive to observe that localisms are less
pronounced among artists than among untrained persons. Trained singers
and actors belonging to different countries or sections of country,
show few differences among themselves in English pronunciation. Among
localisms the letter "r" causes frequent comment. In singing and
dramatic speaking, this letter is best formed at the tip of the tongue.
In common speech it may be made only by a very slight movement at the
back of the tongue. A decided throaty "burr" should always be avoided.
In the case of vigorous dramatic utterance, the "r" may be quite
decidedly rolled, on the principle that, in such cases, all consonants
become a means of effectiveness in expression. In the expression of
fine, delicate, or tender sentiment, all consonants should be lightly
touched or should be obscured. Enumeration of the many kinds of
carelessness of speech would be to little purpose. Scholarly speech
requires a knowledge of correct forms, gained from the dictionary, and
vocal care and skill in making these forms clear, smooth, and finished
in sound.

This discussion has perhaps suggested the extreme of accuracy in
speech. But as has already been said, any degree of overnicety, of
pedantic elegance, of stilted correctness, is especially irritating to
a sensitive ear. Excessive biting off of syllables, flipping of the
tongue, showing of the teeth, twisting of the lips, is carrying
excellence to a fault. The inactive jaw, tongue, and lips must be made
mobile, and in the working away of clumsiness and slovenliness of
speech, some degree of stiltedness must perhaps, for a time, be in
evidence, but matured practice ought finally to result, not only in
accuracy and finish, but in simplicity and ease in speaking.


When the student has made a fair degree of progress in the more
strictly mechanical features of speech, the formation of tone, and the
delivery of words, he is ready to give himself up more fully to the
effective expression of thought. Of first importance to the speaker, as
it is to the writer, is the way to make himself clear as to his
meaning. The question has to be put again and again to the young
speaker, What is your point? What is the point in the sentence? What is
the point in some larger division of the speech? What is the point, or
purpose, of the speech as a whole? This point, or the meaning of what
is said, should be so put, should be so clear, that no effort is
required of a listener for readily apprehending and appreciating it.
Discussing now only the question of delivery, we say that the making of
a point depends mainly upon what we commonly call emphasis. Extending
the meaning of emphasis beyond the limit of mere stress, or weight, of
voice, we may define it as special distinctness or impressiveness of
effect. In the case of a sentence there is often one place where the
meaning is chiefly concentrated; often the emphasis is laid sharply
upon two or more points or words in the sentence; sometimes it is put
increasingly on immediately succeeding words, called a climax, and
sometimes the stress of utterance seems to be almost equally
distributed through all the principal words of the sentence.

The particular point of a sentence is determined, not so much by what
the sentence says as it stands by itself, as by its relation to what
goes before or what follows after. The first thing, then, for the
student to do is to become sure of the precise meaning of the sentence,
with reference to the general context. Then he must know whether or not
he says, for the understanding of others, exactly what is meant. The
means of giving special point to a statement is in some way to set
apart, or to make prominent, the word or words of special significance.
There are several ways in which this is done. Commonly a stress or
added weight of voice is put upon the word; generally, too, there is an
inflection, a turning of the tone downward or upward; there is
frequently a lengthening out of the vowel sound, and a sudden stop
after, in some cases before, the word. Any or all these special
noticeable vocal effects serve to draw attention to the word and give
it expressive significance. These effects are everywhere common in good
everyday speech. In the formal art of speaking, they have to be more or
less thought out and consciously practiced.

Emphasis is determined by the comparative importance of ideas. An idea
is important when, being the first to arise in the mind, it becomes the
motive for utterance. We see an object, the idea of high or broad or
beautiful arises in the mind; we so form a sentence as to make that
idea stand forth; this idea, or the word expressing it, becomes vocally
emphatic. In this sentence, "He has done it in a way to impress upon
the Filipinos, so far as action and language can do it, his desire, and
the desire of our people, _to do them good_," the idea "to do them
good" is the one that arose first in the mind of the speaker and called
up the other ideas that served to set this one prominently forth. It is
the emphatic idea. It should be carried in the mind of the student
speaker from the beginning of the sentence. Again, an idea is important
when it arises as closely related to the first, and becomes the chief
means of giving utterance concerning the first. This second idea may be
something said about the first; it may be compared or contrasted with
the first. Being matched against the first, it may become of equal
significance with it. "Who is here so _base_ that would be a
_bondman_?" Here the idea "base" is used to emphasize the quality
of "bondman," and becomes equally emphatic with that idea. Other ideas,
or other words expressing them, being formed around these principal
ones, will be subordinated or more loosely run over, since they simply
serve as the setting for the principal ones, or the connecting links,
holding them together. Sometimes an idea arising in the mind grows in
intensity, asserting itself by stronger and stronger successive words.
For example, "He _mocks_ and _taunts_ her, he _disowns, insults_ and
_flouts_ her"; and, "I impeach him in the name of human nature itself,
which he has cruelly _outraged, injured_, and _oppressed_, in both
sexes in every _age, rank, situation_, and _condition of life_." The
impressiveness in delivering these successive words is increased not
because they are in the form of a climax, but they are in the form of a
climax because the thought is so insistent as to require new words for
its expression. The student will be true and sure in his emphasis only
when he takes ideas into his mind in the natural way; that is, he
should seize upon the central idea before he gives utterance to any
part of a statement. If that idea is constantly carried foremost in the
mind, he will then, in due time, give it its true emphasis. So, in the
case of a climax, he must realize the spirit and force behind the
utterance, and not depend upon any mechanical process of merely
increasing the strength of his tones.

Sometimes emphasis must be made to stand so strong as not merely to
arrest the movement of thought, and fix the mind of the hearer upon a
point, but to turn the attention of the hearer for the moment aside; to
draw his mind to the thought of something very remote in time or place
or relation, as in the case of making momentary reference to some
historic fact or some well-known expression of literature. Allusions
and illustrations, then, should be given, not only with color but also
with special emphasis. Byron, contemplating the ruins of Rome, calls
her "the _Niobe_ of nations." The hearer's mind should be arrested, his
imagination stirred, at that word. Words used in contrast with one
another are given opposing effect by contrasting emphasis: "Not that I
loved _Cśsar_ less, but that I loved _Rome more_." "My _words fly up_;
my _thoughts remain below_." When words are used with a double meaning,
as in the case of a pun, or with a peculiar implication, or are
repeated for some peculiar effect of mere repetition,--when we have, in
any form, what is called a play upon words,--a peculiar pointedness is
given, wherein the circumflex inflection plays a large part. "Now is it
_Rome_ indeed and _room_ enough, when there is in it but one only man."
"I had rather _bear with_ you than _bear_ you; yet if I did bear you, I
should bear no _cross_, for I think you have no _money_ in your purse."
"But, sir, the _Coalition_! The _Coalition_! Aye, the _murdered

Although, as has been said, the usual method of making a point is to
give striking force to an idea, very often the same effect, or a better
effect, is produced by a striking sudden suppression of utterance, by
way of decided contrast. When the discourse has been running vigorously
and inflections have been repeatedly sharp and strong, the sudden stop,
and the stilled utterance of a word, are most effective. Only, the
suppressed word must be set apart. There must be the pause before or
after, or both before and after. Robert Ingersoll, when speaking with
great animation, would often suddenly stop and ask a question in the
quietest and most intimate way. This gave point to the question and was

We have been considering thus far only primary or principal emphasis.
Of equal importance is the question of secondary emphasis. The
difference in vocal treatment comes in regarding the principal emphasis
as absolute or final, as making the word absolved from, cut off from,
the rest of the sentence following, and having a final stop or
conclusive effect, while the secondary may be regarded as only
relatively emphatic, as being related in a subordinate way to the
principal, and as maintaining a connection with the rest of the
sentence, or as hanging upon the words which follow, or as being a step
leading up to the main idea. The vocal indication of this connective
principle is the circumflex inflection. The tone will be raised, as in
the principal emphasis, but instead of being allowed to fall straight
to a finality, it is turned upward at the finish, to hook on, as it
were, to the following. The weight of voice will be less marked, the
inflection less long, and the pause usually less decided, than in the
case of the primary emphasis. "Recall _romance_, recite the names
of heroes of legend and _song_, but there is none that is his
peer." At the words romance and song there is a secondary emphasis; the
voice is not dropped, it is kept suspended with the pause.

A common failing among students is an inability to avoid a frequent
absolute emphatic inflection when it is not in place. Many are unable
steadily to sustain a sentence till the real point is reached. They
fail to keep the voice suspended when they make a pause. It is very
important that a student should have a sure method of determining what
the principal emphasis is. He should, as has already been said, follow,
in rendering the thought of another, the method of the spontaneous
expression of his own ideas. He should take into his mind the principal
idea or ideas, before he speaks the words leading thereto. He should
then, at every pause, keep the thought suspended, incomplete, till he
reaches that principal idea; he should then make the absolute stop,
with the effect of finality, afterwards running off in a properly
related way, such words as serve to complete the form of expression.
Take the following sentence: "I never take up a paper full of Congress
squabbles, reported as if sunrise depended upon them, without thinking
of that idle English nobleman at Florence, who when his brother, just
arrived from London, happened to mention the House of Commons,
languidly asked, Ah! is that thing still going?" It is rather curious
that very rarely will a student keep the thought of such a sentence
suspended and connected until he arrives at the real point at the end.
He will first say that he never takes up a paper, though of course he
really does take up a paper. Then he says he never takes up this kind
of paper; and this he does not mean. So he goes on misleading his
audience, instead of helping them properly to anticipate the form of
statement and so be prepared for the point at the right moment. He
should not, as a general rule, let his voice take an absolute drop at
the places of secondary emphasis.

In reference to the emphatic point in a larger division of the speech,
and to the main or climactic points of the whole speech, the principles
for emphasis in the sentence are applied in a larger way. And the way
to make the point is, first of all, to think hard on what that point
is, what is the end or purpose to be attained. If this does not bring
the result--and very often it does not--then the mechanical means of
producing emphasis should be studied and consciously applied--the
increase, or perhaps the diminution, of force, the lengthening or
shortening of tones on the words; a change in the general level of
pitch; the use of the emphatic pause; and a lengthening of the emphatic
inflection. A more impressive general effect must, in some way, be
given to the parts of greater importance.


Perhaps the most commonly criticized fault among beginners in speaking
is that of monotony. Monotony that arises from lack of inflection of
voice or from lack of pointed-ness or emphasis in a sentence, will
presumably be corrected in the earlier exercises. The monotony that is
caused by giving to all sentences an equal value, saying all sentences,
or a whole speech, in about the same force, rate, and general pitch, is
one that may be considered from another point of view. One fault in the
delivery of sentences--perhaps the most frequent one--is that of
running them all off in about the same modulation. By modulation we
mean the wavelike rise and fall of the voice that always occurs in some
degree in speech,--sometimes called melody--and the change of key, or
general pitch, in passing from one sentence, or part of a speech, to
another. Frequently, novices in speaking and in reading, will swing the
voice upward in the first part of every sentence, give it perhaps
another rise or two as the sentence proceeds, and swing it down, always
in precisely the same way, at the end. The effect of this regular
rising at the beginning, and this giving of a similar concluding
cadence at the end, is to make it appear that each sentence stands
quite independent of the others, that each is a detached statement; and
when, besides, each sentence is given with about the same force and
rate of speed, they all seem to be of about equal importance, all
principal or none principal, but as much alike as Rosalind's halfpence.
Sentences that have a close sequence as to thought should be so
rendered that one seems to flow out from the other, without the regular
marked rise at the beginning or the concluding cadence at the end.
Sentences, and parts of sentences, which are of less importance than
others with which they are associated, should be made less prominent in
delivery. Often students are helped by the suggestion that a sentence,
or a part of a sentence, or a group of sentences, it may be, be dropped
into an undertone, or said as an aside, or rapidly passed over, or in
some way put in the background--said, so to speak, parenthetically.
Other portions of the speech, or the sentence, the important ones,
should, on the same principle, be made to stand out with marked effect.

Notice, in the following quotation, how the first and the last parts
arc held together by the pitch or key and the modulation of the voice,
and the middle part, the group of examples, is held together in a
different key by being set in the background, as being illustrative or
probative. "Why, all these Irish bulls are Greek,--every one of them.
Take the Irishman carrying around a brick as a specimen of the house he
had to sell; take the Irishman who shut his eyes, and looked into the
glass to see how he would look when he was dead; take the Irishman that
bought a crow, alleging that crows were reported to live two hundred
years, and he meant to set out and try it. Well, those are all Greek. A
score or more of them, of the parallel character, come from Athens."

The speaker should cultivate a quick sensitiveness as to close unity
and slight diversity, as to what is principal and what is subordinate,
as to what is in the direct, main line of thought, and what is by the
way, casual, or merely a connecting link. This sense of proportion, of
close or remote relation, of directness and indirectness, the feeling
for perspective, so-called, can be acquired only by continued practice,
for sharpening the faculty of apprehension and appreciation. It is
usually the last attainment in the student's work, but the neglect of
it may result in a confirmed habit of monotony. The term transition is
commonly used to denote a passing from one to another of the main
divisions of the discourse. The making of this transition, though often
neglected, is not difficult. The finishing of one part and the making
of a new beginning on the next, usually with some change of standing
position, as well as of voice, has an obvious method. The slighter
transition, or variation, within a main division, and the avoidance of
the slight transition where none should be made, require the keener,
quicker insight.

Sentences will have many other kinds of variation in delivery according
to the nature and value of the thought. Some will flow on with high
successive waves; some will be run almost straight on as in a monotone.
Some will be on a higher average tone, or in a higher key; others will
be lower. Some will have lengthened vowel sound, and will be more
continuous or sustained, so that groups of successive words seem to run
on one unbroken tone; others will be abrupt and irregular. Some will be
rapid, some slow; some light, others weighty; some affected by long
pauses, others by no pause, and some will be done in a dry, matter-of-
fact, or precise, or commonplace, or familiar manner, others will be
touched with feeling, colored by imagination, glowing with persuasive
warmth, elevated, dignified, or profound. A repetition of the
selections to be learned, with full expression by voice and action,
repetition again, and again, and again, until the sentiment of them
becomes a living reality to the speaker, is the only way to acquire the
ability to indicate to others the true proportions, the relative
values, and the distinctive character, of what is to be said.


We are in the habit of distinguishing between what proceeds from mere
thinking, what is, as we say, purely intellectual, and what arises more
especially from feeling, what we call emotional. We mean, of course,
that one or the other element predominates; and the distinction is a
convenient one. The subject, the occasion, to a great extent the man,
determine whether a speech is in the main dispassionate or impassioned,
whether it is plain or ornate in statement, whether it is urgent or
aggressive, or calm and rather impassive. It would be beyond our
purpose to consider many of the variations and complexities of feeling
that enter into vocal expression. We call attention to only a few of
the simpler and more common vocal manifestations of feeling,
counselling the student who is to deliver a selected speech, to adapt
his speaking to the style of that speech. In so doing he will get a
varied training, and at length will find his own most effective style.

The speech which is matter-of-fact and commonplace only, has
characteristically much short, sharp inflection of voice, with the
rapidly varying intervals of pitch that we notice in one's everyday
talking. As the utterance takes on force, it is likely to go in a more
direct line of average pitch, with stronger inflection on specially
emphatic words. As it rises to sentiment, the inflections are less
marked, and in the case of a strain of high, nobler feeling, the voice
moves on with some approach to the monotone. According as feeling is
stronger and firmer, as in the expression of courage, determination,
firm resolve, resistance, intense devotion, the voice is kept
sustained, with pauses rather abrupt and decisive; if the feeling,
though of high sentiment, is tranquil, without aggressiveness, the
voice has more of the wavelike rise and fall, and at the pausing places
the tone is gradually diminished, rather than abruptly broken off. In
the case of quickly impulsive, passionate feeling, the speech is likely
to be much varied in pitch, broken by frequent abrupt stops, and
decisive inflections. In the case of the expression of tenderness or
pathos, there is a lingering tone, with the quality and inflection of
plaintiveness, qualified, in public speech, by such dignity and
strength as is fitting. In all cases the quality of voice is of course
the main thing, and this, not being technical or mechanical, must
depend on the speaker's entering into the spirit of the piece and
giving color, warmth, and depth to his tones. The spirit of gladness or
triumph has usually the higher, brighter, ringing tone; that of
gravity, solemnity, awe, the lower, darker, and less varied tone.

In the case of the expression of irony, sarcasm, scorn, contempt, and
kindred feelings, the circumflex inflection is the principal feature.
This is the curious quirk or double turn in the voice, that is heard
when one says, for example, "You're a _fine_ fellow," meaning,
"You are anything but a fine fellow." In the earlier part of Webster's
reply to Hayne are some of the finest examples of irony, grim or
caustic humor, sarcasm, and lofty contempt. They need significant turns
and plays of voice, but are often spoiled by being treated as high

In the expression of the various kinds and degrees of feeling there may
be a fully expressed force or a suppressed or restrained force. Often
the latter is the more natural and effective. This is intense, but not
loud, though at times it may break through its restraint. It is most
fitting when the hearers are near at hand, as in the case of a jury or
judge in court, when the din of loudness would offend.

The climax is a gradually increasing expression of feeling. It may be
by a gradual raising of the voice in pitch; it may be by any sort of
increasing effectiveness or moving power. It is rather difficult to
manage, and may lead to some strained effort. The speaker should keep a
steady, controlled movement, without too much haste, but rather a
retarded and broadened utterance as the emphatic point is approached;
and always the speaker should keep well within his powers, maintaining
always some vocal reserve.

The practice of emotional expression gives warmth, mellowness, sympathy
and expansiveness to the voice, and must have considerable cultural


A difficult attainment in speaking is that of vividness. The student
may see the picture in his own mind's eye, but his mode of expression
does not reveal the fact to others. Imagination in writing he may have,
with no suggestion of it in the voice. Too often it is erroneously
taken for granted that the human voice, because it is human, will at
any call, respond to all promptings of the mind. It will no more do so,
of course, than the hand or the eye. It must be trained. Often it is a
case not merely of vocal response, but of mental awakening as well, and
in that case the student must, if he can, learn to see visions and
dream dreams.

A way to begin the suiting of speech to imaginative ideas is to
imitate; to make the voice sound like the thing to be suggested. Some
things are fast, some slow, some heavy, some light, some dark and
dismal, some bright and joyous; some things are noisy, some still; some
rattle, others roar; the sea is hoarse; the waves wash; the winds blow;
the ocean is level, or it dashes high and breaks; happy things sing,
and sad things mourn. All life and nature speak just as we speak. How
easy it ought to be for us to speak just as nature speaks. And when our
abstract notions are put in concrete expression, or presented as a
picture, how easy it would seem, by these simple variations of voice,
to speak the language of that picture, telling the length, breadth,
action, color, values, spirit of it. That it is a task makes it worth
while. It affords infinite variety, and endless delight.

One necessary element in so-called word-painting is that of time. When
a speaker expresses himself in pictures for the imagination he must
give his hearers time to see these pictures, and to sufficiently see
and appreciate the parts, or lines of them, and the significance of
them. It is a common fault to hasten over the language of imagination
as over the commonplace words. The speaker or reader had better be sure
to see the image himself before, and indeed after, he speaks it. Others
will then be with him. Although among most young speakers the tone of
imagination is lacking, yet often young persons who become proficient
vocally are fain greatly to overdo it, till the sound that is suited to
the sense becomes sound for its own sake, and thereby obscures the
sense. Regard for proportion and fitness, in relation to the central
idea or purpose, should control the feeling for color in the detail.


It should always be borne in mind that gesture means the bearing or the
action of the whole man. It does not mean simply movement of the arm
and hand. The practice of gesture should be governed by this
understanding of the term. A thought, an emotion, something that moves
the man from within, will cause a change, it may be slight, or it may
be very marked, in eye, face, body. This is gesture. This change or
movement may, from the strength of the feeling that prompts it, extend
to the arm and hand. But this latter movement, in arm and hand, is only
the fuller manifestation of one's thought or feeling--the completion of
the gesture, not the gesture itself. Arm movement, when not preceded or
supplemented by body movement, or body pose, is obtrusive action; it
brings a member of the body into noticeable prominence, attracting the
auditor's eye and taking his mind from the speaker's thought. Better
have no gesture than gesture of this kind. The student, then, should
first learn to appreciate the force of ideas, to see and feel the full
significance of what he would say, and indicate by some general
movement of body and expression of face, the changing moods of mind.
Then the arm and hand may come--in not too conspicuous a way--to the
aid of the body. When Wendell Phillips pointed to the portraits in
Faneuil Hall and exclaimed: "I thought those pictured lips would have
broken into voice to rebuke the recreant American,--the slanderer of
the dead," it was not, we may be sure, the uplifted arm alone, but the
pose of the man, the something about his whole being, which bespoke the
spirit within him, and which was really the gesture. In less positive
or striking degrees of action, the body movement will, of course, be
very slight, at times almost imperceptible, but the principle always
holds, and should be from the first taught. In gesture, the bodily man
acts as a unit.

The amount of gesture is, of course, determined by the temperament of
the speaker, the nature of the speech, the character of the audience,
and the occasion of the address. One speaker will, under certain
conditions, gesticulate nearly all the time; another will, under the
same conditions, seem seldom to move in any way. The two may be equally
effective. A speech that is charged with lively emotion will usually be
accompanied by action; a speech expressive of the profound feeling that
subdues to gravity, or resignation, would be comparatively without
action. The funeral oration by Mark Antony is full of action because it
is really intended to excite the will of his audience; in a funeral
address simply expressive of sorrow and appreciation, gesture would, as
a rule, be out of place. A sharply contested debate may need action
that punctuates and enforces; the pleasantry of after-dinner talk may
need only the voice. So, one audience, not quick in grasping ideas, may
need, both in language and action, much clear, sharp indication of the
point by illustration, much stirring up by physical attack, so to
speak, while another audience would be displeased by this unnecessary
effort to be clear and expressive. Yet again, given a certain speaker
and a certain subject and a certain audience, it is obvious that the
occasion will determine largely how the speaker will bear himself. The
atmosphere of a college commencement will be different from that of a
barbecue, and the speaker would, within the limits set by his own
personality and his own dignity, adapt himself to the one or the other.
The general law of appropriateness and good taste must determine the
amount of gesture.

For the purposes of this work there is probably very little, if any,
value in a strict classification of gestures. It may, at times, be
convenient to speak of one gesture as merely for emphasis, of another
as indicating location, of another as giving illustration, of one as
more subjective, expressing a thought that reflects back upon the
speaker, or is said more in the way of self-communion, of another as
objective, concerned only with outer objects or with ideas more apart
from the person or the inward feeling of the speaker. But it can easily
be shown that one idea, or one dominant feeling, may be expressed by
many kinds of action, in fact, so far at least as prescribed movements
are concerned, in directly opposite kinds, and gesture is so largely a
matter of the individual, and is governed so much by mixed motive and
varying circumstance, that the general public speaker will profit
little by searching for its philosophic basis, and trying to practice
according to any elaborated system. The observing of life, with the
exercise of instinct, taste, sense, above all of honest purpose--these,
with of course the help of competent criticism, will serve as
sufficient practical guides in the cultivation of expressive action.

Some observations, or perhaps general principles, may be offered as
helpful. When a speaker is concerned with driving ideas straight home
to his audience, as in putting bare fact in a debate, his action will
be more direct; it will move in straighter lines and be turned, like
his thought, more directly upon his audience. As his statement is more
exactly to a point, so his gesture becomes more pointed and definite.
When the speaker is not talking to or at his audience, to move them to
his will, but is rather voicing the ideas and feelings already
possessed by them, and is in a non-aggressive mood, he is likely to use
less of the direct and emphasis-giving gesture, and to employ
principally the gesture that is merely illustrative of his ideas, more
reposeful, less direct, less tense.

To consider more in detail the principle that the man, and not the arm,
is the gesture, a man should look what he is to speak. The eye should
always have a relation to gesture. The look may be in the direction of
the arm movement or in another direction. No practical rule can be
given. It can only be said that the eye must play its part. Observing
actions in real life, we see that when one person points out an object
to another, he looks now at the object, now at the person, as if to
guide that person's look. When he hears a sound he may glance in the
direction of it, but then look away to listen. Often a suspended
action, with a fixed look of the face, will serve to arrest the
attention of auditors and fix it upon an idea. One should cultivate
first the look, then the supporting or completing action.

As to the movement of the arm and the form of the hand, one should be
careful not to become stiff and precise by following exact rules. In
general, it may be said that the beginning of the arm movement, being
from the body, is in the upper arm; the finish of it is at the tips of
the fingers, with the forefinger leading, or bringing the gesture to a
point. There is generally a slightly flexible, rythmical movement of
the arm and hand. This should not, as a rule, be very marked, and in
specially energetic action is hardly observable. In this arm action
there is an early preparatory movement, which indicates or suggests,
what is coming. Often a moment of suspense in the preparation enhances
the effect of the finish, or stroke, of the gesture, which corresponds
usually to the vocal emphasis. At the final pointing of the action, the
hand is, for a moment or for moments, fixed, as the mind and the man
are fixed, for the purpose of holding the attention of the auditor;
then follows the recovery, so-called, from the gesture, or it may be,
the passing to another gesture. And all the while, let it again be
said, slight changes of bodily pose with proper adjustments of the
feet, will make the harmonious, unified action. It should be remembered
that, as in viewing a house or a picture we should be impressed by the
main body and the general effect, rather than by any one feature, so on
the same principle, no striking feature of a man's action should
attract attention to itself. On the same principle, no part of the hand
should be made conspicuous--the thumb or forefinger should not be too
much stuck out, nor the other fingers, except in pointing, be very much
curved in. Generally, except in precise pointing, there is a graduated
curving, not too nice, from the bent little finger to the straighter
forefinger. As the gesture is concerned with thought more delicate, the
action of the hand is lighter and tends more to the tips of the
fingers; as it is more rugged and strong, the hand is held heavier. It
is bad to carry the arm very far back, causing a strained look; to
stretch the arms too straight out, or to confine the elbow to the side.
The elbow is kept somewhat away even in the smallest gesture. While
action should have nerve, it should not become nervous, that is, over-
tense and rigid. It should be free and controlled, with good poise in
the whole man.

Before leaving this subject, in its physical aspect, let us consider
somewhat the matter of standing and moving on the platform. Among
imperfections as regards position, that kind of imperfection which
takes the form of perfectly fixed feet, strictly upright figure, hands
at the side, head erect, and eyes straight-of all bad kinds, this kind
is the worst. This is often referred to as school declamation, or the
speaking of a piece. We have discarded many old ideas of restriction in
education. Let us discard the strait-jacket in platform speaking.
Nobody else ever speaks as students are often compelled to speak. Let
them speak like boys--not like men even--much less like machines. There
is of course a good and a bad way of standing and moving, but much is
due to youth, to individuality, and to earnest intention, and a student
should have free play in a large degree.

In walking, the step should neither be too fast nor too slow, too long
nor too short, too much on the heel or too much on the toe. A simple,
straightforward way of getting there is all that is wanted. The arms
are left to swing easily, but not too much; nor should one arm swing
more than the other. The head, it will be noted, may occasionally rise
and fall as one goes up or down steps or walks the platform. Before
beginning to speak, one should not obviously take a position and
prepare. He should easily stop at his place, and, looking at his
auditors, begin simply to say something to them. As to the feet, they
will, of course, be variously placed or adjusted according to the pose
of the body in the varying moods of the speech. In general, the body
will rest more on one foot than on the other. In a position of ease, as
usually at the beginning of a speech, one foot will bear most of the
weight. In this case, this foot will normally be pointed nearly to the
front; the other foot will be only very slightly in advance of this and
will be turned more outward. The feet will not be close together; nor
noticeably far apart. They need not--they had better not--as it is
sometimes pictured in books, be so set that a line passing lengthwise
through the freer foot will pass through the heel of the other foot. As
a man becomes earnest in speaking, his posture will vary, and often he
will stand almost equally on his two feet. In changing one's position,
it is best to acquire the habit of moving the freer foot, the one
lighter on the floor, first, thus avoiding a swaying, or toppling look
of the body.

In connection with the subject of standing, naturally comes the
question of the arms in the condition of inaction. It is possibly well
to train one's self, when learning to speak, to let the arms hang
relaxed at the side, but speakers do not often so hold the arms.
Usually there is a desk near, and the speaker when at rest drops one
hand upon this, or he lets one arm rest at the waist, or he brings the
two hands together. Any of these things may be done, if done simply,
easily, without nervous tightening, or too frequent shifting. One
thing, for practical reasons, should not be allowed, the too common
habit of clasping the hands behind the back. It will become a fixed
mannerism, and a bad one, for the hands are thus concealed, the
shoulders and head may droop forward, and the hands may be so tightened
together behind the back as to cause nervous tension in the body and in
the voice. The hands should be in place ready for expressive action.
The back is not such a place.

Nearly every movement that a man makes in speaking should have some
fitting relation to what he is at the moment saying. These movements
will then be varied. When certain repeated actions, without this proper
relation, are acquired, they are called mannerisms. They have no
meaning, and are obtrusive and annoying. Repeated jerking or bobbing of
the head, for a supposed emphasis; regularly turning the head from side
to side, for addressing all the audience; nervous shaking of the head,
as of one greatly in earnest; repeated, meaningless punching or
pounding of the air, always in the same way; shifting of one foot
regularly backward and forward; rising on the toes with each emphatic
word,--although single movements similar to these often have
appropriate place, none of these or others should be allowed to become
fixed mannerisms, habitually recurring movements, without a purpose. We
are sometimes told that certain manneristic ways are often a speaker's
strength. Probably this is at least half true. But eccentricities
should not be cultivated or indulged. They will come. We should have as
few as possible, or they won't count. One thing, however, should here
be said. Positive strength, with positive faults, is much better than
spiritless inoffensiveness. One should not give all his attention to
the avoiding of faults.

In the application of gesture to the expression of ideas, one is
helped, as has been said, by constantly heeding the general principle
of suiting the form of the gesture to the nature of the thought, or of
suiting the action to the word. Inasmuch as gesture so generally takes
the form of objects or actions, it is undoubtedly easier to begin with
the more concrete in language, or with the discussion of tangible
objects, and work from these to the more abstract and remotely
imaginary--from the more, to the less, familiar. Let the student
indicate the location, or the height, or the width, or the form of an
object. His action will probably be appropriate. Let him apply similar,
probably less definite, action to certain abstract ideas. Let him pass
to ideas more remote and vague, by action largely suggestive, not
definite or literal.

The most important, because the most fundamental, principle to be borne
in mind is that gesture should be made to enforce, not the superficial,
or incidental, ideas appearing in a statement, but the ideas which lie
behind the form of expression and are the real basis, or inhere in the
fundamental purpose, of the speaker's discourse.

At the close of Senator Thurston's speech on intervention in behalf of
Cuba, there is picturesque language for impressing the contention that
force is justified in a worthy cause. The speaker cites graphically
examples of force at Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, Shiloh, Chattanooga,
and Lookout Heights. The student is here very likely to be led astray
by the fine opportunity to make gesture. He may vividly see and picture
the snows of Valley Forge, marked with bloodstained feet, and the other
scenes suggested, but forget about the central idea, the purpose behind
all the vivid forms of expression. Graphic, detailed gestures may have
the effect of making the pictures in themselves the main object. The
action here should be informal, unstudied, and merely remotely
suggestive. The speaker should keep to his one central idea, and keep
with his audience. Otherwise the speech will be insincere and
purposeless, perhaps absurd. The fundamental, not the superficial,
should determine the action. Young speakers almost invariably pick out
words or phrases, suggesting the possibility of a gesture, and give
exact illustration to them, as if the excellence of gesture were in
itself an object, when really the thing primarily to be enforced is not
these incidental features in the form of expression, but the underlying
idea of the whole passage. It is as if the steeple were made out of
proportion to the church, or a hat out of proportion to the man. This
misconception of what gesture really means is doubtless, in large
measure, the cause of making platform recitation often false and
offensive. The remedy does not lie in omitting gesture altogether, as
some seem to think, but in making gesture simple and true.

Finally, let the student remember that he goes to the platform, not to
make a splendid speech and receive praise for a brilliant exhibition of
his art, but that he goes there because the platform is a convenient
place from which to tell the people something he has to say. Let him
think it nothing remarkable that he should be there; let him so bear
himself, entering with simplicity, honesty, earnestness, and modesty,
into his work, that no one will think much about how his work is done.
Spirited oratory, with the commanding presence, the sweeping action,
and an overmastering force of utterance, may at times be called forth,
but these are given to a man out of his subject and by the occasion;
they are not to be assumed by him merely because he is before an
audience, or as necessary features of speech-making. Let the student
speak, first and always, as a self-respecting, thinking man, earnest
and strong, but self-controlled and sensible.



The selections in the several sections for platform practice are to be
used for applying, in appropriate combination, the principles
heretofore worked out, one by one. The first group provides practice in
the more formal style. The occasion of the formal address requires, in
large degree, restraint and dignity. The thought is elevated; the mood
serious, in some cases subdued, the form of expression exact and firm.
The delivery should correspond. The tone should be, in some degree,
ennobled; the movement deliberate, and comparatively even and measured;
the modulation not marked by striking variations in pitch; the pauses
rather regular, and the gesture always sparing, perhaps wholly omitted.
The voice should be generally pure and fine; the enunciation should be
finished and true. Whatever action there may be should be restrained,
well poised, deliberate, with some degree of grace. In general it
should be felt that carelessness or looseness or aggressiveness or
undue demonstrativeness would be out of harmony with the spirit of the
occasion. Good taste must be exercised at every step, and the audience
should be addressed, from the outset, as in sympathy with the speaker
and ready at once to approve. The spirit and manner of contention is
out of place.

In this style of discourse the liability to failure lies in the
direction of dullness, monotony, lack of vitality and warmth. This is
because the feeling is deep and still; is an undercurrent, strong but
unseen. This restrained, repressed feeling is the most difficult
fittingly to express. In this kind of speech some marring of just the
right effect is difficult to avoid. Simplicity, absolute genuineness,
are the essential qualities. The ideas must be conveyed with power and
significance, in due degree; but nothing too much is particularly the
watchword regarding the outward features of the work.


In the public lecture the element of entertainment enters prominently.
The audience, at first in a passive state, must be awakened, and taken
on with the speaker. Probably it must be instructed, perhaps amused.
The speaker must make his own occasion. He has no help from the
circumstance of predisposition among his auditors. He must compel, or
he must win; he must charm or thrill; or he must do each in turn.
Animation, force, beauty, dramatic contrast, vividness, variety, are
the qualities that will more or less serve, according to the style of
the composition. Aptness in the story or anecdote, facility in graphic
illustration, readiness in expressing emotion, happiness in the
imitative faculty, for touching off the eccentric in character or
incident, are talents that come into play, and in the exercise of
these, gesture of course has an important place.

The lecture platform is perhaps the only field, with possibly the
exception of what is properly the after-dinner speech, wherein public
speaking may be viewed as strictly an art, something to be taken for
its own sake, wherein excellence in the doing is principally the end in
view. This means, generally, that individual talent, and training in
all artistic requirements, count for more than the subject or any
"accidents of office," in holding the auditor's interest. An animated
and versatile style can be cultivated by striving to make effective the
public lecture.


Informal discussion is the name chosen for the lecture or talk in the
club or the classroom. It implies a rather small audience and familiar
relations between audience and speaker. While the subject may be
weighty, and the language may be necessarily of the literary or
scientific sort, the style of speaking should be colloquial. It ought
to bring the hearer pretty near to the speaker. If the subject and
language are light, the speaking will be sprightly and comparatively

Since the occasion for this kind of speaking is frequent, and the
opportunity for it is likely to fall to almost any educated man,
proficiency in it might well be made an object in the course of one's
educational training. The end aimed at is the ability to talk well.
This accomplishment is not so easy as it may seem. It marks, indeed,
the stage of maturity in speech-making. Since authoritative opinion
from the speaker and interest in the subject on the part of the
audience are prime elements in this form of discussion, little
cultivation of form is usually given to this kind of speaking. The
result is much complaining from auditors about inaudibleness, dullness,
monotony, annoying mannerisms, or a too formal, academic tone that
keeps the audience remote, a lack of what is called the human quality.
A good talker from the desk not only has the reward of appreciation and
gratitude, but is able to accomplish results in full proportion to all
that he puts into the improvement of his vocal work. An agreeable tone,
easy formation of words, clear, well-balanced emphasis, good phrasing,
or grouping of words in the sentence, some vigor without continual
pounding, easy, unstudied bodily movement without manneristic
repetition of certain motions, in short, good form without any
obtrusive appearance of form,--these are the qualities desired.


In the case of the forensic, we come nearer to the practical in public
speaking. The speaker aims, as a rule, to effect a definite purpose,
and he concentrates his powers upon this immediate object. Since the
speech is for the most part an appeal to the reason, and therefore
deals largely with fact and the logical relations of ideas, precision
and clearness of statement are the chief qualities to be cultivated.
But since the aim is to overcome opposition, and produce conviction,
and so to impress and stir as to affect the will to a desired action,
the element of force, and the moving quality of persuasion enters in as
a reŽnforcement of the speaker's logic. Generally the speech is very
direct, and often it is intense. It has in greater degree than any
other form the feature of aggressiveness. Some form of attack is
adopted, for the purpose of overthrowing the opposing force. That
attack is followed up in a direct line of argument, and is carried out
to a finish. In delivery the continuous line of pursuit thus followed
often naturally leads to a kind of effective monotone style, wherein
the speaker keeps an even force, or strikes blow after blow, or sends
shot after shot. The characteristic feature of the forensic style is
the climax--climax in brief successions of words, climax in the
sentence, climax in giving sections of the speech, climax in the speech
as a whole.

Special notice should be taken of the fact that, in earnest argument,
sentences have, characteristically, a different run from that in
ordinary expository speaking. Whereas in the expository style the
sentence flows, as a rule, easily forth, with the voice rising and
falling, in an undulatory sort of way, and dropping restfully to a
finish, in the heated forensic style, the sentence is given the effect
of being sent straight forth, as if to a mark, with the last word made
the telling one, and so kept well up in force and pitch. The
accumulating force has the effect of sending the last word home, or of
making it the one to clinch the statement.

The dangers to be guarded against in debate are wearying monotony,
over-hammering--too frequent, too hard, too uniform an emphasis--too
much, or too continued heat, too much speed, especially in speaking
against time, a loss of poise in the bearing, a halting or jumbling in
speech, nervous tenseness in action, an overcontentious or bumptious
spirit. Bodily control, restraint, good temper, balance, are the saving
qualities. A debater must remember that he need not be always in a
heat. Urbanity and graciousness have their place, and the relief
afforded by humor is often welcome and effective.

In no form of speaking, except that of dramatic recitation, is the
liability to impairment of voice so great as it is in debating. One of
the several excellent features of debating is that of the self-
forgetfulness that comes with an earnest struggle to win. But perhaps a
man cannot safely forget himself until he has learned to know himself.
The intensity of debating often leads, in the case of a speaker vocally
untrained, to a tightening of the throat in striving for force, to a
stiffening of the tongue and lips for making incisive articulation, to
a rigidness of the jaw from shutting down on words to give decisive
emphasis. Soon the voice has the juice squeezed out of it. The tone
becomes harsh and choked; then ragged and weak. The only remedy is to
go straight back and begin all over, just as a golfer usually does when
he has gone on without instruction. The necessity of going back is
often not realized till later in life; then the process is much harder,
and perhaps can never be entirely effective. The teacher in the course
of his experience meets many, many such cases. The time to learn the
right way is at the beginning.

Among the selections here offered for forensic practice, examples in
debate serve for the cultivation of the aggressiveness that comes from
immediate opposition; examples in the political speech for acquiring
the abandon and enthusiasm of the so-called popular style; in the legal
plea for practice in suppressed force. In the case of the last of
these, it is well that the audience be near to the speaker, as is the
case in an address to a judge or jury. The idea is to be forcible
without being loud and high; to cultivate a subdued tone that shall, at
the same time, be vital and impressive. The importance of a manner of
speaking that is not only clear and effective, but also agreeable, easy
to listen to, is quite obvious when we consider the task of a judge or
a jury, who have to sit for hours and try to carry in their minds the
substance of all that has been said, weighing point against point,
balancing one body of facts against another. A student can arrange
nearly the same conditions as to space, and can, by exercise of
imagination, enter into the spirit of a legal conflict.


After-dinner speaking is another form that many men may have an
opportunity to engage in. It can also be practiced under conditions
resembling those of the actual occasion, that is, members of the class
can be so seated that the speaking may become intimate in tone, and
speeches can be selected that will serve for cultivating that
distinctive, sociable quality of voice that, in itself, goes far in
contributing to the comfort and delight of the after-dinner audience.
The real after-dinner speech deals much in pleasantry. The tone of
voice is characteristically unctuous. Old Fezziwig is described by
Dickens as calling out "in a comfortable, rich, fat, jovial, oily
voice." Something like this is perhaps the ideal after-dinner voice,
although there is a dry humor as well as an unctuous, and each speaker
will, after all, have his own way of making his hearers comfortable,
happy, and attentive. Ease and deliberation are first requisites.
Nervous intensity may not so much mar the effect of earnest debate. The
social chat is spoiled by it. Humor, as a rule, requires absolute
restfulness. Especially should a beginner guard himself against haste
in making the point at the finish of a story. It does no harm to keep
the hearer waiting a bit, in expectation. The effect may be thus
enhanced, while the effect will be entirely lost if the point, and the
true touch, are spoiled by uncontrolled haste. The way to gain this
ease and control is not by stiffening up to master one's self, but by
relaxing, letting go of one's self. Practice in the speech of
pleasantry may have great value in giving a man repose, in giving him
that saving grace, an appreciation of the humorous, in affording him a
means of relief or enlivenment to the serious speech.


The occasional poem is so frequently brought forth in connection with
speech-making that some points regarding metrical reading may be quite
in place in a speaker's training. Practice in verse reading is of use
also because of the frequency of quoted lines from the poets in
connection with the prose speech.

To read a poem well one must become in spirit a poet. He must not only
think, he must feel. He must exercise imagination. He must, we will say
it again, see visions and dream dreams. What was said about vividness
in the discussion of expressional effects applies generally to the
reading of poetry. One will read much better if he has tried to write--
in verse as well as in prose. He will then know how to put himself in
the place of the poet, and will not be so likely to mar the poet's


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