Everyday English 2
Everyday English 2

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Everyday English 2

2.2 It’s the way you say it

It is not just your body language that can give the game away about how you feel. The old saying ‘It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it’ contains a great deal of truth. Your voice carries a lot of hidden messages to the listener. It can reveal:

  • your emotions
  • how interested you are in what is being said
  • even your state of health.

Your voice shows these differences in a variety of ways, particularly:

  • how fast or slowly you speak: your pace
  • how clearly you say the words: your articulation
  • how loudly or softly you speak: your volume.

Activity 9 Pace, articulation and volume

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Listen to the audio below, in which a spokesperson introduces a new England rugby coach to journalists. What do you notice about the speaker’s pace, articulation and volume?

Download this audio clip.Audio player: track_19.mp3
Skip transcript

Transcript

Presenter
(quietly) Testing, 1 2, 1, 2, 3 (cough)
Audience
(quietly) Low chatter
Presenter
Ladies and gentlemen of the press ...
Audience
(quietly mumbled chatter)
Presenter
I will shortly be introducing the new England rugby coach to you.
Audience
Better be worth it / That’s right / Mumbling – errrr / Bring it on
Presenter
Before I do, welcome to our new HQ.
Audience
VERY NICE / Lovely / D’you know how long it took me to get here? / Yeah, thanks (Laughing)
Presenter
Very glad you managed to make it here.
Audience
God / Yeah not the bloody long / OK / miracle
Presenter
We appreciate that for some of you this is out of the way.
Audience
Yeah and some! / (mumbling)
Presenter
Our apologies (cough). Finance has dictated that we relocate to here.
Audience
What a shame / (tch) / lack of finance more like / (clearing throat)
Presenter
Sorry; no more popping out in the lunch hour for a quick soundbite from the English RFU, heh heh.
Audience
(Jeering / boos / tutting)
Presenter
But to compensate we have laid on refreshments.
Audience
Yeah great / big deal / (laughing) / (sarcastic) woo hoo
Presenter
And the car parking is free.
Audience
Woo hoo / well, whoopee for that / (unenthusiastic clapping)
Presenter
The new coach will say a few words – and not too quickly.
Audience
Oh god
Presenter
If you want a transcript they will be available from me afterwards.
Audience
Can we just skip this? / GET ON WITH IT / (mumbling)
Presenter
Yeah OK, OK, you no doubt have a lot of questions to ask so please feel free to do so. One each, mind.
Audience
What? / Ha! / What? / Ha! So generous / (laughing)
Presenter
Please keep them brief and to the point.
Audience
(Laughing)
Presenter
And remember, he does have a team to pick for the game next week so please don’t keep him from his deliberations longer than is necessary.
Audience
(groaning) / Oh don’t worry / You’re keeping me here / Get on with it!
Presenter
And now ...
Audience
(fanfare noise) / (laughing)
Presenter
… we give you – the new England rugby coach.
Audience
YAY/ Woah / (unenthusiastic clapping )
End transcript
 
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Discussion

See if your observations match those below.

  • The speaker starts hesitantly. He tests the microphone to check it is working.
  • He speaks slowly and clearly in an attempt to gain the attention of the people in the room. They need to know he has an important announcement to make.
  • He articulates his words and keeps the pace slow. This might be so that the journalists can write down what he is saying. However, he might be talking too slowly, as they sound increasingly impatient.
  • He tries joking and apologises for any inconvenience.
  • Towards the end, he slows the pace again because he wishes to build up the tension before revealing who the coach is. Again, the journalists want him to hurry up and urge him to ‘get on with it’.

Several things can affect the way you speak.

  • If you are angry or upset, you may talk very quickly. So emotions can affect the pace of speaking.

  • If you are interested in what is being said, you tend to be more precise. This focus helps you to articulate more clearly.

  • If you are not feeling at your best, you may turn your volume down and talk quietly or with little energy.

You can use this flexibility in pace, volume and articulation to create different effects when you are speaking.

In this section you have looked at:

  • the ways people communicate non-verbally
  • how to use positive body language to enhance your speaking and listening
  • how to change your pace, articulation and volume to convey a message.
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