October 29th, 2001
Up to this point, I have avoided all those old voice training
articulation and diction exercises (“The rain in Spain...”),
because I think they are a bit mileading, as if getting all
the articulation and diction correct in a track for a story
will make either the writing or the delivery all that much
better. It won’t.
However, this must be said for good diction: it raises what
may be considered ‘normal’ good speech to the level of really
excellent speech. There is a delicate balance, however, that
must be achieved, and that is to be at the same time articulate
and clear, and not weird or artificial. This takes some time,
and articulation and diction exercises are a great way to
strengthen your speech for when you do need strong, clear
When you think about it, if you spoke like you normally do
in your broadcast work, you communicate to your audience that
what you have to say is normal (read ‘forgettable’) language,
and of course, what we really want to communicate is “listen
to me; what I have to say is important.”
Face it, well over 90 percent of what we say on a daily language
is what could best be described as ‘negotiation’ language.
It is intended to get us from here to there, to achieve what
needs to be achieved, and nothing more.
We don’t expect anyone to remember us when we ask “Which way
to the...?” or “How much is the...?” We ask or communicate
our thoughts to navigate through our life, and then we forget
what is said and we generally don’t expect those we communicate
to remember our words.
However, when we have something important to say, we articulate
a little bit more clearly, with a strong intention of being
heard, and we hope that our thoughts will be remembered, for
whatever reason. This is the same for any performance we do
on camera or microphone.
Frankly, if the story was important enough to air, it is important
enough to make strong, and clear. In future installments,
I will introduce you to a range of articulation exercises.
They are great for strengthening you ability to be understood
and remembered. But no amount of articulation will help you
be understood if it sounds odd, artificial or put-on. Think
of the articulation as coming from very, very clear intentions.
To repeat, we don’t want to communicate to our audience “what
I have to say is unimportant, and you needn’t remember it...”
as we would in our ‘normal’ day to day speech. While we tell
our stories on the air, we want to communicate not only the
substance of the story itself, but also we want our audience
to get the sense that “this is important, I want you to think
about this and remember it...” Articulation 101 next. In the
meantime, keep breathing deeply.