Effective Use Of Vocal Power
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
We have been emphasizing correct, easy posture, relaxation, and proper breathing, and their relation to a musical, resonant tone. Now let us turn our attention to force and directness, concentrating on the relaxation of the proper muscles as we do it.
How to Make Your Voice Carry
Stand in correct position, as shown in the illustration on Page 19. Expand centrally to inhale; then on the outgoing breath count from one to ten in a regular beat, making sure that each number is the result of an inward stroke of the diaphragm. Don't collapse the lower rib cage. Begin to sense that you must not pump too much air out on each number. Repeat the exercise while you shrug your shoulders between counts to relieve the tension which always comes into the shoulders at first when you are concentrating on the action of the central muscles. Next try the exercise while oscillating the head on the neck.
Now do the exercise as you walk around the room, relaxing your whole body except the working central muscles. For a feeling of directness, mentally throw each number at a target, such as a picture or a wall light.
As your next exercise, count from one to ten, accenting the odd numbers and using only one sustained outgoing breath for the entire series. This will mean that the central muscles stroke inward on one, three, five, seven, and nine. Re-peat the exercise and see how many times you can do it on one breath. Occasionally shrug the shoulders and oscillate the head to insure relaxation.
Now count to ten, accenting the even numbers, following the same plan as that given for the preceding exercise.
Next try a triple rhythm—that is, one, two, three—four, five, six—seven, eight, nine—and repeat. Feel the beat or inward diaphragmatic stroke on one, four, and seven.
Count easily at a normal rate from one to ten and then repeat, increasing the fullness and force on the second counting. This, of course, gives you practice in learning to speak so that you will not run out of breath on the last word.
Now you are ready for an exercise which will show you how lazy your muscles are. Do you remember the analogy between the coil spring on a screen door and your central muscles? Inhale deeply and then on one outgoing breath count from one to ten, pausing for two long beats between each two numbers. Be sure that no air goes out or comes in between counts. Shrug your shoulders occasionally between counts to insure relaxation; walk around the room. This exercise is to build breath control, which enables the speaker to phrase intelligently and keeps him from gasping for too many short breaths.
In order to acquire slow, sustained speech, count slowly from one to ten, passing smoothly with modulated tones from one number to the next. As you do this, try to feel the rhythmic, easy inward stroke of the central muscles and see that the outgoing air is distributed equally, so that the counting does not sound jerky.
Next try counting from one to ten, keeping an open, relaxed throat and making each count light and staccato, as if you were bouncing the tones.
Each day you will find it interesting to learn how much advancement you have made in the matter of lung capacity. Take a slow, deep breath, then begin counting to ten as rapidly as possible on one slow, regulated outgoing breath. You should try to count from one to ten at least ten times, making a total of one hundred counts on one breath. If you cannot achieve this the first time you try, repeat the exercise daily until you can count one hundred in tens with ease.
Force in speaking is not shouting, which is always harsh and disagreeable. The forceful voice is smooth and musical; it is dynamic and powerful. A forceful tone of voice is made by opening the back of the mouth more, thereby creating more resonating space, and by pumping (stroking inward) with more diaphragmatic action. The throat should still be relaxed. The person who shouts because he fears that other-wise he cannot be heard should realize that a whisper made by one in complete control of all his speech organs can be heard by those hundreds of feet distant. It is not necessary to shout, and the well-bred person never does it.
The Rate at Which You Speak
Each person speaks at a rate natural to his temperament, but there are certain dangers against which every speaker should guard. A naturally rapid talker should bear in mind that persons who think slowly cannot grasp his ideas unless he retards his rate of speaking some-what.
On the other hand, the man who is slow of speech must re-member that he cannot hold the attention of persons who think quickly unless he accelerates his speech. Every speaker should gear his rate of speaking to the intellect of his audience, and should avoid monotony by varying the speed at which he speaks, as well as by change of pitch. It is well to pause a moment after an important word or idea to give your listeners time to grasp your idea fully. This is also an effective device to use in marking the transition from one idea to another.