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Speech Improvement

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



There is no index of character so sure as the voice. BENJAMIN DISRAELI

You may have something to say and you may know how to say it. You may be familiar with the correct pronunciations of all the words you use and you may be a master of grammar, but if your voice is uninteresting or irritating, you will find it difficult to persuade anyone to listen to you. Have you ever considered what your voice tells the world about you? Have you ever listened to yourself speak? If you haven't, you are probably not conscious of the speech faults that may be responsible for your failure to achieve greater success.

Think back over the conversations in which you have taken part during the past week. Weren't your opinions influenced somewhat by the speakers' voices?

What kinds of voice repel and annoy you? Like everyone else, you probably dislike the weak, dull, monotonous voice, which indicates a lazy, uninteresting, weak personality. You are annoyed by the high, strident voice which you associate with arrogance and self-assertion. The thin, cold voice does not attract you because it reveals the cold, indifferent personality and sometimes has an edge that indicates cruelty. The loud, harsh voice indicates lack of culture, and some-times creates the impression of ruthlessness. The sickeningly sweet voice is a sign of insincerity. The affected, drawling voice indicates a deliberate pose and may be indicative of laziness, and egotism. Nasal voices, whining voices, shrill voices-these, too, repel you and make you unreceptive to the message of their owners.

What kinds of voice do you like? The positive voice that is vibrant, warm, melodious, and clear; the soft, sweet, bell-like voice; the high, clear, joyous voice; the deep, smooth, velvety voice; the powerful but controlled resonant voice—each represents a different type of person, but each is perfect of its kind and each has its particular kind of charm.

You must expect others to react to your voice as you would react to the same voice if it belonged to someone else. If you are associated with children, remember that they are especially sensitive to sounds; often their restlessness or irritability is caused by the unpleasant voices of adults.

Unpleasant Voices Distress Children

Women, especially, should realize that a large part of charm lies in the voice.

Everyone has known women who dress attractively and whose manners are gracious but whose voices are shrill and discordant. The moment they speak all their charm is dispelled.

H. Addington Bruce, in an article

called "Watch Your Voice—It Counts for Success or Failure" says:

There are some facts about the human voice less generally appreciated than they ought to be. Of these, not the least significant is the part the voice plays in promoting or lessening the good will of others toward its possessor, and thus in contributing to success or failure.

Not a few politicians, lawyers, and clergymen of distinctly more than average ability have lingered in obscurity largely because of their vocal shortcomings. On the other hand, not a few have advanced out of proportion to their intellectual powers solely because of the uncommonly agreeable quality of their voices. Nor is it only in careers involving public speaking that the voice plays an influential, sometimes a decisive part. In every occupation requiring social intercourse, it is a factor not to be lightly esteemed.

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