The Art of Speech

Cultivate Your Voice

Alexandra Sampaio is a speech therapist in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

"I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak" (Exod. 4:12)

When we accept an invitation to speak for God, we assume a great responsibility. When we speak for God, we must use a soft and gentle voice and speak in a clear and distinct manner. God expects us to honor Him in all aspects of our lives. That is why He enables and guides us in the correct use of the voice.

As Ellen White reminds us, “The science of reading correctly and with the proper emphasis is of highest value. No matter how much knowledge you may have acquired . . . if you have neglected to cultivate your voice . . . all your learning will be of but little profit” (Evangelism, p. 666).

TIPS TO PRESERVE YOUR VOICE

Here are several pointers that will help you present God’s messages in a pleasing and effective manner:

• Speak with moderate intensity. Speaking too loudly can irritate your listeners and perhaps also damage your vocal chords.
• Articulate words accurately but do not exaggerate the movements of your mouth. Clear articulation helps people understand the message and reduces the strain on your vocal chords.
• Explore different intonations. Try speaking loudly and softly. If possible, imitate the voice you are representing, but do not go beyond your limits. A change of intonation reduces the probability of vocal weariness.
• Use a microphone whenever possible, but be careful not to put it too close to or too far from your mouth.
• Always ask for feedback regarding the volume of your voice. A sound that is too loud or too soft may puzzle or annoy your listeners.

VOCAL WARM-UP AND VOCAL COOL-DOWN

It is common for the voice to sound lower or hoarse in the morning due to the long period of vocal rest. To warm it up, do some vocal exercises such as the following:

• Produce the sound “trrrrrrrr” (vibrating the tip of your tongue) or the sound “brrrrrrrr” (vibrating your lips). There is no need to apply strength when making these sounds.
• Avoid speaking right after ending a sermon or lecture. Being silent right after the constant use of your voice is a way to let your vocal chords cool down.
• Produce the sound of the letter “M” as you chew on an apple. This movement, associated with the astringent action of the fruit, will prepare your voice for speech.
• Breathe correctly. Let air go in through your nostrils, expanding your lungs and going out of your mouth, as you empty your lungs completely.
• Relax your shoulders and neck, making very slow rotational movements (three times on each side).

When you are in front of the congregation, don’t worry about anything except being a speaker. Try to avoid being tied to your notes. Let yourself be used by God and believe what He says: “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exod. 4:12).


Alexandra Sampaio
Speech therapist in Belo Horizonte, Brazil