The reasons most commonly cited by people seeking elocution include a lack of confidence in their voices, fear of public speaking and being held back in a job because of an accent.Unfortunately society has got away from the importance of ‘elocution’ and sloppy speech has become the norm but good elocution is considered to be a clear and concise manner of speaking. A good voice improves communication which is essential at business meetings, interviews and conferences.
Many of those seeking help from elocution experts are business managers, company directors, doctors, lawyers, teachers, university lecturers, NHS managers, solicitors and barristers.
What to learn from elocution - A person must avoid speaking too quickly or mumbling; elocution is about perfecting one’s skills in oral communication and will include:
- correct pronunciation of words, such as neutral vowel sounds
- correction of common mispronounced words
- open and closed ‘u’ sounds, as well as the long and short ‘a’ sounds
- clarity and diction
- pitch, pace and tone
- correct breathing
How to improve the voice:
- Breathing from the diaphragm
- Drink plenty of water - good for the vocal cords
- Sit up straight
- Use gestures to make the voice sound more energetic
- Avoid caffeine because it is a diuretic
The neutral vowel sound is created to allow speech to flow more easily and naturally and avoid chippy choppy speech, study the following:
A well modulated voice is achieved by the proper use of pitch, pause, pace, emphasis and inflection.
Pitch is the height or depth of tone; we have three registers within pitch: high, medium and low.
Pause is the stopping of breath for a certain length of time – long enough to be noticed.
Pace is the speed or rate at which we speak, aim for variety within pace.
Emphasis is the added weight or stress on a word or group of words, use emphasis for key and relevant words.
Inflection is the rise and fall of the voice: there are three inflections:
- Upward for questions
- Downward for authority and command
- Compound for uncertainty and disbelief
The purpose of tongue twisters is to make the muscles in the lips and tongue work quickly and accurately. Practise:
The Sheep-Skin Shop
At the sheep-skin shop
At the sheep skin-shop
She’ll show you cosy garments
For your toes up to your top:
Shirts and scarves and slippers
Which the sharpest chills will stop
With the smart and slick assistant
At the sheep-skin shop.
Betty Botter bought a bit of butter. “But, she said, this butter’s bitter. If I put it in my batter, it’ll make my batter bitter. But a bit of better butter will make my batter better.” So Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter and it made her batter better.
Three grey geese in the green grass grazing. Grey were the geese and green was the grazing.
(Repeat three times.)
Actor Sir Laurence Olivier has often warmed up vocally with second tongue twister, while the third was always the favourite of opera star Ezio Pinza.
Elocution courses may be as short as five hours, and normally 30 minutes sessions. A person seeking employment should bear in mind that it could change their economic status, as a short course could help career development. Thus, the right type of elocution course is able to improve the quality of an individual’s life.