Thursday, September 13, 2012

Proportion and Emphasis in your Speech

Proportion in a speech is attained by a nice adjustment of time. How fully you may treat your subject it is not always for you to say. Let ten minutes mean neither nine nor eleven—though better nine than eleven, at all events. You wouldn't steal a man's watch; no more should you steal the time of the succeeding speaker, or that of the audience. There is no need to overstep time-limits if you make your preparation adequate and divide your subject so as to give each thought its due proportion of attention—and no more. Blessed is the man that maketh short speeches, for he shall be invited to speak again.

Another matter of prime importance is, what part of your address demands the most emphasis. This once decided, you will know where to place that pivotal section so as to give it the greatest strategic value, and what degree of preparation must be given to that central thought so that the vital part may not be submerged by non-essentials. Many a speaker has awakened to find that he has burnt up eight minutes of a ten-minute speech in merely getting up steam. That is like spending eighty percent of your building-money on the vestibule of the house.

The same sense of proportion must tell you to stop precisely when you are through—and it is to be hoped that you will discover the arrival of that period before your audience does.