Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Speech Therapy

The presenters of BBC One's Breakfast TV programme really have got a brass neck. There they were toying 'playfully' with each other on their ridiculous settee this morning, giggling like two adolescents responding to the first stirrings of sexual interest in each other. All about as false as Ritchie Macaw's smiling best wishes at kick-off. And they started mocking George Osborne about some supposed attempts to change the tone of his voice. They had even persuaded some 'speech therapist' to come in and join them on their ridiculous settee. I've no idea whether this stuff was true or not, but so b*****y what, I thought. I spent hours learning how to improve my public speaking when I was a member of Berriew Young Farmer's Club. Must admit it was the local headmaster, the late Mr Glynne Jones who 'therapied' me, and in a voluntary capacity. Couldn't afford a proper speech therapist. Every YFC club did the same. It still happens today. Next week, I'll be adjudicating a Montgomeryshire YFC public speaking competition, trying to pass on what Glynne Jones taught me, all those years ago. And last month I adjudicated a Welsh school's debating competition, and tried to offer some advice when I summed up on behalf of the judging panel.

Usually, the key lesson is to slow down. This automatically lowers your voice, makes it easier on the listening ear, and helps give an impression that you are in control of your voice. It also creates opportunity to emphasise a particular point by a quick burst at normal word speed. When not appearing on the media, or speaking in public, I have a tendency to gabble - which when influenced by anger mutates into a squeak. Without some attempt at speech modulation, the audiece would be lost, as would any ability to influence. And I'd lay odds that every BBC presenter has undergone speech training. All they wanted was an excuse to have a go at George. So a curse on all media presenters, and may they lose their voices for an hour as punishment for their snideness.

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