Saturday, February 28, 2009

What Paul Harvey Taught Us About the Art of Public Speaking

From today's Washington Post:

Paul Harvey, 90, a Chicago-based radio broadcaster whose authoritative baritone voice and distinctive staccato delivery attracted millions of daily listeners for more than half a century, died Feb. 28 in Phoenix.

What can we learn from how Paul Harvey used his voice?

Certainly, as the Post recognizes, Harvey had a unique style that was easily recognized. But of course there is something deeper happening.

Listen to Harvey read a hypothetical letter from God:

He addresses the letter to "My Dear Children." And that is exactly what we hear. Paul Harvey seems to actually be speaking to people he deeply cares about and is truly invested in. As a result, his voice inspires trust.

From the Green Room: Speak to your audience as if you were addressing someone who is precious to you. Be generous - with your eye contact, voice and with your message.


Anonymous said...

Paul Harvey sure did have a unique voice, but it was pretty much the same voice whether he was reading a "Letter from God" about the marvels of His creation or a letter from a listener about the marvels of her Bose radio (or mattress or vitamin supplement). The distinctive intonation seemed never to vary and yet an unaffected sincerity always came through.

Anonymous said...

With a radio personality like Harvey, his voice was crucial. When you speak in public, obviously you have to think about a lot of things: gestures, facial expressions, other physical movements, etc. On the radio voice is all you've got. By keeping his consistent, as the previous commenter noted, he was almost building a brand for himself, before the notion of "branding" had become so commonplace.

Sarah Gershman said...

Great point. And when you are preparing to give a speech, it can be helpful to record only your voice - and listen to how clearly and effectively your message comes across.