Sunday, 16 August 2009

Please speak up!

I am fortunate in that I have good hearing. My father is losing his - the age related hearing loss where it is becoming difficult to hear the higher registers. He gets frustrated when he cannot hear young children but acknowledges that this is, usually, not their fault. He gets very frustrated when he cannot hear adults he should be able to hear. They mumble. They do not enunciate. They do not project their voices.
My father was a teacher, a school principal. He was also a 'magician', a rabbit out of the hat type magician. (He never used rabbits. It is not kind to the rabbits.) He knows how to 'saw a lady in half' and a lot of other things besides. He knows the importance of what magicians call 'patter' - the talk that goes along with the trick. The art of communication is everything in that line of work.
I know a lot of people do not care for the idea of getting up and speaking in public. They do not even like asking a question or making a brief comment. I do not care for getting up and giving a full blown speech myself. Despite that I can get up and make myself heard. I will use a microphone if there is someone with a hearing impairment and there is a hearing loop for their use. I will go so far as to cue in a hard to lip read word with the initial letter in a manual sign for someone I know well enough. I do not need a microphone to make myself heard at a meeting.
Microphones make lazy speakers. I would have disagreed vehemently with this statement once but, Siobhan McKenna taught me this.
I have never personally met Ms McKenna but I attended a talk she gave in what was then a very new Festival Theatre in Adelaide. The theatre was so new they were having problems with the sound and lighting system. Everyone wondered if the talk would go ahead. The technicians got the lighting up. They could not get the sound up. Ms McKenna walked on to the stage with the Important Person Doing the Introduction. We could barely hear him. Ms McKenna began to speak. No microphone. We could hear every word. She used the lack of microphone to her advantage. At one point she whispered and we could still hear her. It was a magnificent 'performance'.
So, when I read Nicola Morgan's wise comments on book launches (Help! I need a publisher....) this morning I felt bound to add a comment, "Speak up, speak out." That makes eight words I now need to remember, "Be prepared, be polite, speak up, speak out". But then, perhaps I do only need the first four...because it is polite to to speak up and speak out when asked to do so.

1 comment:

Rachel Fenton said...

I'd very much like to know how to saw up some ladies! I remember winning a singing contest at secondary school based on my good diction! I tittered all the way home!