3 Exercises To Improve Your Prosody

posted in: Practice, Prosody, Public Speaking | 0

We all know speaking in public is tough. And it’s even tougher if you’re aware that you get a little monotone sometimes. But these exercises will help you improve your prosody – the musicality of the pitch range – of your voice, making you sound more interesting and engaging.

Try reading these paragraphs as though you’re a children’s storyteller, moving your voice up and down depending on when you think the pieces need it. The first two are easy to guess – they’re split into halves, one half different to the other. But the third is trickier.

Remember – volume and pace are also crucial to getting variety and interest to the stories. It’s important for the exercise that you over-emphasise the low pitches from the high pitches.

1: The Old House

With a low moan the wind wound round the house, rattling the windows and shaking the massive oak door, until the iron bolts gave way with a resounding shudder. The sickly spectre, now clearly defined under the yellow moon, appeared from the forest and glided towards the house…
Meanwhile…
in the drawing room Lady Penelope languidly sipped a long, cool glass of lemonade while listening to the dulcet tones of the flute played by her elegant companion.

2: The Game

The football stadium was packed with thousands of eager fans, boisterously brandishing programmes, rattles and bells – all in support of their hero, who at this moment was careering down the wing, the ball apparently stuck to his toes; past one opponent, then another and another, until, with a mighty effort, he kicked the ball into the enemy’s net… GOAL!
later…
back in the dressing room, with the deep satisfaction of conquerors, the men lay submerged in the warm relaxing water. The steam rose like mist around them as their aching and tense muscles thawed. Away from the noise of the crowd, with only the low murmurs of congratulations, many succumbed to sleep.

3: Poor Graham

Graham was not in the least upset by the sight. He just stared at the wreckage and wondered what could have happened. People grow plants – yes. They water them, they watch them and plants grow. But this was, to say the least, a little out of the ordinary. The giant chrysanthemum which had been the object of his every waking thought and the object of unprecedented devotion in his life (this year anyway) had withered. Withered was hardly the expression – it had grown smaller. What had been a huge golden sun in his life had now shrunk to the size of an unambitious dandelion. It wasn’t dead, indeed it wasn’t even dying, it was smaller. He rubbed his hand across his chest and bent towards it. He knew it was the same flower because it had rather unusual red tips to the petals. He peered at it for a while, half believing it wasn’t true, and half expecting that at any moment it would rise again to its full round glorious self. But it didn’t. It tiptoed on the top of the soil with all the perkiness of a five year old in dancing display. Graham looked round, he wasn’t quite sure why, maybe for help, maybe for consolation – none was there; only the irony of the sun beating down on the grass, golden rich and life-giving.

(From Malcolm Morrison, Clear Speech)

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