Volume and Pausing
1, 2. Why must we speak loud enough?
1 Unless others can readily hear you, the value of what you say will be lost. On the other hand, if your volume is too loud, it can irritate the audience and so detract from the fine thoughts that you have prepared. Our need to be concerned with adequate volume is evident in many Kingdom Halls, where those commenting at meetings from the front of the hall often cannot be heard by those in the rear. At times the one speaking from the platform may lack sufficient volume and so fail to inspire his audience. In the field service, too, we meet persons who are hard of hearing and there are noises with which to compete, whether from inside the homes on which we call or outdoors. All this indicates that we need to give careful consideration to proper volume.
2 Loud enough to be comfortably heard. The first consideration in determining how much volume to use is best analyzed by the question, Was the necessary power of voice exercised? That is, were you heard in the back row without overwhelming those in the front? That might be a sufficient consideration for the beginning student, but those more advanced should endeavor to master the following aspects of the matter as well. The school overseer should determine to what extent each student will be counseled on this quality.
3-10. What circumstances help us to determine the amount of volume we should use?
3 Volume to fit circumstances. A speaker must be aware of varying conditions under which he speaks. It broadens his powers of discernment, makes him more flexible and allows him to reach and hold his audience with greater ease.
4 Conditions vary from hall to hall and with the size of the audience. To control the circumstances you must control your volume. Giving a talk in the Kingdom Hall requires more volume than in the living room of a newly interested person. Furthermore, a small group near the front of the hall, as at a meeting for field service, will require less volume than when the hall is filled, as at a service meeting.
5 But even these conditions are not constant. Sudden noises arise outside and inside the hall. The passing of a car, a nearby train, loud animal noises, the crying of children, a late arrival—all these require an adjustment in your power of voice. Failure to recognize them and compensate for them in volume will cause something, perhaps a vital point, to be missed.
6 Many congregations have amplifying equipment for the voice. But if care is not exercised in its use, and the volume fluctuates extremely from loud to soft, it might be necessary to counsel the student for lack of consideration of these circumstances. (See Study 13 on use of microphone.)
7 Occasionally a speaker will find this matter of volume difficult to master simply because of the quality of his voice. If this is your problem and your voice just does not carry, the school overseer will consider it in giving counsel. He might suggest certain exercises or a program of training that will help to develop and strengthen your voice. However, voice quality itself is a separate point for counsel and will not be stressed in considering your volume.
8 Not every existing circumstance can be judged in any one talk. Counsel should be given on the current talk, not on every possibility that might arise. However, if the need seems to exist, the school overseer might warn a student of possible problems that he might meet under different circumstances, even though the student is commended for his current talk and his counsel slip marked “G.”
9 How can a student determine whether his volume is ample? Audience reaction is one of the best barometers. An experienced speaker will closely observe those at the rear of the hall during his introduction and will be able to determine from their expression and general attitude whether they can hear comfortably, and he will vary his volume accordingly. Once he has acquired the “feel” of the hall, he will have no more difficulty.
10 Another means is to observe other speakers on the same program. Are they easily heard? How much volume are they using? Adjust yours accordingly.
11, 12. Why is it essential to have volume appropriate to material?
11 Volume appropriate to material. This aspect of our discussion of volume should not be confused with modulation. At present we are interested in simply fitting the volume to the particular material being discussed. For example, if denunciations were being read from the Scriptures, obviously the volume would be regulated differently than if the student were reading counsel on love among the brothers. Compare also Isaiah 36:11 with Isa 36 verses 12 and 13 and note the differences that must have existed in the way these statements were spoken. Volume must be adapted to the material but should never be overdone.
12 In deciding how much volume to use, analyze your material and your purpose carefully. If you want to change the thinking of your audience, do not drive them away by too much volume. However, if you want to stimulate them to spirited activity, perhaps volume could be stronger. If the material calls for strength, do not weaken it by speaking too softly.
13-16. Point out the value of pausing.
13 In the delivery of your talk, properly placed pauses are almost as important as adequate volume. Without them, the meaning of statements easily becomes obscure and the main points that your audience ought to remember fail to make a lasting impression. Pauses give you confidence and poise, allow for better breath control and an opportunity to gain composure at difficult points of the speech. Pauses show the audience that you have the situation under control, that you are not unduly nervous, that you are considering your audience, and that you have something you want them to hear and remember.
14 A beginning speaker should lose no time in acquiring the ability to pause effectively. First, you must become convinced that what you have to say is important and that you want it to be remembered. A mother in correcting her child will at times preface her remarks by saying something to get his attention. She will not speak another word until the child has given full attention. Then she will say what is on her mind. She wants to make sure that the child will not ignore what she is saying and that it will be remembered.
15 Some people never pause, even in everyday speaking. If that is your problem you will want to cultivate this quality to improve the effectiveness of your ministry in the field. There our speaking is in the form of conversation. To pause in such a way that your householder will not interrupt but will listen and wait requires the right kind of pausing. But skill and proficiency in pausing in conversation is just as essential and just as rewarding as is the ability when exercised on the platform.
16 One serious problem in connection with the proper use of pausing in a discourse is having too much material. Avoid this. Allow time for pauses; they are essential.
17-21. Explain the importance of pausing for punctuation.
17 Pause for punctuation. Pausing for punctuation simply means for clarity of thought; to set off related ideas; to indicate phrases, clauses, ends of sentences and paragraphs. Often such changes can be indicated by inflection, but pauses are also effective to give oral punctuation to what is said. And as commas and semicolons have different significance in sentence divisions, so pauses should vary according to their use.
18 Misplaced pauses can completely change the thought of a sentence. An illustration of this is the words of Jesus at Luke 23:43, “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.” If the comma or pause were put between the first “you” and “today” a completely different thought would result, as is evidenced by the common misinterpretation of this text. Correct pausing, therefore, is essential in order to convey the thought intended.
19 Learn to punctuate orally in extemporaneous speaking by observing all written punctuation when you read. The only written punctuation that can sometimes be ignored in reading is a comma. To pause or not to pause at a comma often is a matter of choice. But semicolons, periods, quotation marks, also paragraph divisions, all must be observed.
20 You might find it helpful in reading a manuscript or a portion from the Bible to mark the copy. Draw a small vertical line between phrases where a brief pause (perhaps just a hesitation) is to be inserted; two lines or an “X” for a longer pause.
21 If, on the other hand, you find in your practice reading that certain sentences are awkward for you and you repeatedly pause in the wrong places, you might make pencil marks tying together all the words that make a phrase. Then, as you read, do not pause or hesitate until you come to the last one of the words hooked together. Many an experienced speaker does this.
22-24. Why is it necessary to pause for change of thought?
22 Pause for change of thought. In a transition from one main point to another, a pause gives the audience an opportunity to reflect. Besides, it prevents misunderstanding. It gives the mind a chance to adjust itself, to recognize the change in direction and follow the development of the new thought being presented. It is just as important for the speaker to pause in changing ideas as it is for the driver of an automobile to slow down to make a turn.
23 In an extemporaneous talk, the material must be so organized in the outline as to allow for a pause between main points. This need not interfere with the continuity or coherence of the talk, but the ideas should be so well formulated that you can build a particular point to a climax, pause, and then go on to a new thought. Such climaxes and changes can even be marked in your outline, if necessary, to remind you.
24 Pauses for change of thought are usually longer than pauses for punctuation; however, long pauses should not be overdone in a talk or the delivery will drag. Besides, they are likely to sound affected.
25-28. Show how pausing helps us to emphasize a point as well as to cope with disturbing circumstances.
25 Pause for emphasis. A pause for emphasis is usually a dramatic pause. It creates expectancy or it gives the audience a chance to reflect.
26 Pausing before an important point creates anticipation. A pause afterward allows the full import of the idea to sink in. These two uses of the pause are not the same, so you must decide which is most appropriate in a particular instance or whether both are to be used.
27 Pauses for emphasis should be limited to highly significant statements, otherwise their value is lost.
28 Pause when circumstances require it. Interruptions often require a speaker to pause momentarily. If a disturbance is not too severe and you can raise your volume and continue, ordinarily this would be best. But, if a disturbance is sufficient to interfere with the talk completely, then you must pause. Your audience will appreciate your consideration. Besides, many times they are not listening anyway, because the temporary disturbance has distracted them. So use pausing effectively, to be sure that your audience gets the full benefit of the good things that you want to tell them.