Being a Toastmasters’member, I had the possibility to practice my passion for speaking over the years. I still remember how difficult it was at the beggining: speaking in front of an audience was not as simple as I had imagined, even having words clear in my mind. I learnt how to “tune in” to engage my listeners meeting after meeting, acquiring a clear and concise manner of speaking. I learnt the Art of Elocution.

Elocution originates from the word ‘eloquence’ – fluent, elegant or persuasive speaking. It is the knowledge of expressing strong emotions in striking and appropriate language and with the power of persuasion. In the bestselling book The Speaker published in 1808 by William Enfield, the rules for good speech were already clearly listed:

Let your articulation be distinct and deliberate
Let your pronunciation be bold and forcible
Acquire compass and variety in the height of your voice
Pronounce your words with propriety and elegance
Pronounce every word with its proper accent
In every sentence, distinguish the more significant words by a natural, forcible and varied EMPHASIS
Acquire a just variety of Pause and Inflection.
Accompany the emotions and passions, which your words. express, by correspondent tones, looks and gestures

These rules are still valid today.

Generally talking, a good speaker needs to sound interesting, combining the selection of important words to the variety in pace and pitch. Your voice will have to carry quite a long way so the sound needs time to get to the listener. Make sure you finish all of your words: clear articulation will also slow you down - which is good.

Pausing is a main thing. It gives you the chance to take a breath and gives your listeners a chance to take in what you have said. Everyone should pause at a comma, full stop, exclamation mark and before an important word or after an important word. This will make what you say sound interesting and easy to remember.