The effectiveness of the whisper in preaching should not be overlooked. If discreetly used it may serve to impress the hearer with the profundity and seriousness of the preacher’s message, or to arrest and bring back to the point of contact the wandering minds of a congregation.
To acquire emotional power and dramatic action the preacher should study the great dramatists. He should read them aloud with appropriate voice and movement. He should study children, and men, and nature. He should, perhaps, see the best actors, not to copy them, but in order that they may stimulate his taste and imagination.
The ideal style of public speaking is, with very little modification, the ideal of good conversation. The practical age in which we live demands a colloquial rather than an oratorical style of public speaking. A man who has something to say in conversation usually has little difficulty in saying it. If he presents the facts he will speak convincingly; if he is deeply in earnest he will speak persuasively; and if he be an educated man his speech will have the unmistakable marks of culture and refinement.
In the conversation of well-bred children we find the most interesting and helpful illustrations of unaffected speech. The exquisite modulation of the voice, the unstudied correctness of emphasis, and the sincerity and depth of feeling might well serve as a model for older speakers.
This study of conversation, both our own and that of others, offers daily opportunity for improvement in accuracy and fluency of speech, of fitting words to the mouth as well as to the thought, and of forming habits that will unconsciously disclose themselves in the larger work of public speaking. Care in conversation will guard the public speaker from inflated and unnatural tones, and restrain him from transgressing the laws of nature even in those parts of his speech demanding lofty and intensified treatment.
Some easily remembered suggestions regarding conversation are these:
1. Pronounce your words distinctly and accurately, like “newly made coins” from the mint, but without pedantry.
2. Upon no occasion allow yourself to indulge in careless or incorrect speech.
3. Open the mouth well in conversation. Much indistinct speech is due to speaking through half-closed teeth.
4. Closely observe your conversation and that of others, to detect faults and to improve your speaking-style.
5. Vary your voice to suit the variety of your thought. A well-modulated voice demands appropriate changes of pitch, force, perspective, and feeling.
6. Avoid loud talking.
7. Take care of the consonants and the vowels will take care of themselves.
8. Cultivate the music of the conversational tones.
9. Favor the low pitches of your voice.