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Positive Voice Blog

Creating Suspense

Posted on Monday, March 15, 2010 by Positivevoice
It's often hard to strike a balance in public speaking. We often want to create suspense, but we don't want it to be too melodramatic. By slowly building up a story piece by piece and creating a vocal climax with effective use of pause this can be achieved to great affect. But, please remember to feel the words rather than exaggerating them too much.

The following story provides a simple example of this:

'I just gazed at my feet as he shouted, and prayed silently that he wouldn’t single me out… (pause) When he called my name, I cringed… (pause) As I followed him down the corridor, I could hear that his breathing was laboured and I felt pity for him. I know now that he was insecure and weak… but I was still scared… I can still visualise him wringing his hands as we walked in silence and my heart was pounding… He was clearly unwell and distraught with anger… anger at his lost power…. Anger at his inability to control a small child.Then he turned and looked at me. (pause) It was a look devoid of emotion… and he said in a very hushed voice (pause) "try not to talk so much next time"… then he smiled.'

With effective use of detail and pause and by connecting with our emotions, we can keep our audience engaged throughout. It is important to have good vocal variety in a speech like this in order to maintain an audience's attention.

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