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Vocal Cues

Vocal delivery in the public speaking situation is somewhat similar to that in less formal communication settings. Vocal delivery includes four types of cues:

(1) volume,

(2) rate and fluency,

(3) pitch, and

(4) quality.

Because the receiver is playing a less active role, however, the message sender's vocal delivery becomes more apparent. For example, deficiencies in vocal quality—breathiness, hypernasality, poor articulation, and so on—are likely to be particularly noticeable in public speaking (Malandro and Barker, 1982).

Demands for adequate volume in public speaking are obvious. The speaker must be able to project his or her voice so that it is heard by all the members of the audience.

Both fluency and rate of speech can also have considerable influence on an audience. How many times have you heard a speaker who uses a lot of "ahs," "uhs," and "urns"? This annoying habit, along with the needless repetition of such words and phrases as "like," "well," and "you know," falls into the category of nonfluencies. We have seen in Chapter 5 that nonfluent speakers tend to be irritating and boring to listen to because their rate of speech is slower. Moreover, the image they tend to project is one of passivity and hesitancy. Each of us is nonfluent at times, and this is normal. Research on fluent and nonfluent speakers shows, however, that fluency not only enhances image in the eyes of the audience but also produces more attitude change when the speaker's speech is persuasive (McCroskey and Mehrley, 1969).

The rate of speech can also be too fast. Some speakers talk rapidly to ease anxiety. However, the audience becomes very aware of the speaker's discomfort. Attention to one's breathing will tell the speaker if he or she is talking too fast.

The solution is to become conscious of one's breathing before the speech. Begin to inhale deeply and slowly. Fill the lungs to capacity and hold for a couple of seconds, then release the air slowly and completely. Continue the breathing exercise until normal breathing is under control. The breathing exercises promote inner stability and a sense of calm.

Another way to control too-rapid speech is to use short sentences and then pause between thoughts. Make sure the pauses are silent. Verbal pauses ("ah," "um") distract the audience from the message. Learn to become comfortable with silent pauses after delivering a complete thought. It allows the audience to digest the information better (Franchetti and McCartney, 1988).

The pitch of the voice as well as the rate of speech can affect how well a speech is received. We observed in Chapter 5 that people expect a voice to be varied in pitch and, in fact, sometimes derive information about emotions from changes in pitch, Although pitch level does not affect the amount of information_ that can be understood,it will influence the receiver's attitude toward the sender and the content of the message (Eakins, 1969).

Date: 2015-02-16; view: 2119

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