By earnest prayer and diligent effort we are to obtain a fitness for speaking. This fitness includes uttering every syllable clearly, placing the force and emphasis where it belongs. Speak slowly. Many speak rapidly, hurrying one word after another so fast that the effect of what they say is lost. Into what you say put the spirit and life of Christ.
Cultivation of the Voice: He who has bestowed upon us all the gifts that enable us to be workers together with God, expects His servants to cultivate their voices so that they can speak and sing in a way that all can understand.
A Mouthpiece for God: The man who accepts the position of being mouthpiece for God should consider it highly essential that he present the truth with all the grace and intelligence he can, that the truth may lose nothing in his presentation of it to the people. Those who consider it a little thing to speak with an imperfect utterance dishonor God.
Overcome Indistinct Speech: In reading or in recitation
the pronunciation should be clear. A nasal tone or an ungainly
attitude should be at once corrected. Any lack of distinctness
should be marked as defective. Many have allowed
themselves to form the habit of speaking in a thick, indistinct
way, as if their tongue were too large for their mouth. This
habit has greatly hindered their usefulness.
If those who have defects in their manner of utterance
will submit to criticism and correction, they may overcome
these defects. They should perseveringly practice speaking
in a low, distinct tone, exercising the abdominal muscles in
deep breathing, and making the throat the channel of communication.
Many speak in a rapid way and in a high, unnatural
key. Such a practice will injure the throat and lungs.
As a result of continual abuse, the weak, inflamed organs
will become diseased, and consumption may result.
Soft, Persuasive Tones: Be pure in speech. Cultivate
a soft and persuasive, not a harsh and dictatorial, tone of
voice. Give the children lessons in voice culture. Train their
habits of speech, until no coarse or rough words will come spontaneously from their lips when
any trial comes to them.
Controlled Volume: They [ministers]
should speak with reverence.
Some destroy the solemn
impression they may have made
upon the people, by raising their
voices to a very high pitch and
halloowing and screaming out the
truth. When presented in this manner,
truth loses much of its sweetness,
its force and solemnity. But
if the voice is toned right, if it has
solemnity, and is so modulated as to be even pathetic, it will
produce a much better impression.
This was the tone in which Christ taught His disciples.
He impressed them with solemnity; He spoke in a pathetic
manner. But this loud halloowing—what does it do? It does
not give the people any more exalted views of the truth, and
does not impress them any more deeply. It only causes a
disagreeable sensation to the hearers, and wears out the vocal
organs of the speaker. The tones of the voice have much
to do in affecting the hearts of those that hear.
Spiritless Speech: We have been pained as we have
attended conference meetings, tract society meetings, and
meetings of various kinds, where reports were read in an
almost inaudible voice or in a hesitating manner or a muffled
tone. One half the interest in a meeting is killed when the
participants do their part in an indifferent, spiritless fashion.
They should learn to speak in such a way that they can edify
those who listen. Let everyone connected with missionary
work qualify himself to speak in a clear, attractive way, enunciating
his words perfectly.
This article is excerpted from the book The Voice in Speech and
Song, pp. 181-183, by Ellen G. White.