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Jon Beaupré is a voice and performance consultant for radio and television performers. Under the name Broadcast Voice, he provides private training and workshops for reporters, anchors, sports and weather casters, and others working in electronic and broadcast media. He teaches in the Broadcast Communications program at California State University at Los Angeles, and conducts workshops and seminars with the Associated Press Radio and Television Association. He has been a fixture on the convention circuit, teaching workshops at a wide range of specialty journalism and broadcast conventions and stations on both coasts of the U.S.

Remembered Speech

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 language.

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.