Have you mastered the speaking skill Sense Stress? Growing in public speaking ability requires learning numerous skill sets. Sense stress is one of the more important ones to learn.

Spending just a few minutes of practice will provide the mental preparation to start mastering it when giving a speech.

What is sense stress?
How can it be learned as a skill?
Where and when would it be used in a speech?

Sense stress is a form of verbal gesturing. It is accomplished by increased or decreased tonal inflection when speaking. Appropriate sense stress is important to conveying ideas properly. It does more than keep speech from being monotone. It requires the right inflection on the right words or phrases in order to emphasize the message you wish to deliver.

To best understand it, try this simple exercise. Notice how the meaning of the sentence changes each time you say it.

Develop your speaking skill with this simple exercise.

The eight sentences below have the same eight words within. Read each sentence emphasizing the word in the bold. Progressively each next word will get emphasized. Notice the change in the meaning.

‘I’ didn’t say you stole the candy bar.

I ‘didn’t’ say you stole the candy bar.

I didn’t ‘say’ you stole the candy bar.

I didn’t say ‘you’ stole the candy bar.

I didn’t say you ‘stole’ the candy bar.

I didn’t say you stole ‘the’ candy bar.

I didn’t say you stole the ‘candy’ bar.

I didn’t say you stole the candy ‘bar.’

Growing in speaking skill requires more than just talking. As you can see, inadequate or improper sense stress can result in an obscure meaning of the information you present. The ability to persuade or motivate is severely hampered. Even worse, you may lose the audience when their thoughts go else where.

Other ways of adding sense stress to your speaking skills is by the use of pauses and gestures.

By using pauses before or after a statement you can enhance the sense stress. It is a necessary additional speaking skill to add to your abilities.

Also facial expressions and gestures will aid in accomplishing sense stress. Our communication is part verbal and part body language.

To illustrate this, in the kindest and sweetest voice, tell your dog he is worthless, mangy and stupid. Don’t forget to make a mean face. You will probably be greeted with a wagging tale and a dog kiss. You wouldn’t think of trying that with an audience. Never discount the importance sense stress and enhancing it with facial gestures.

The best way to master the speaking skill of sense stress is learning mastery of the human voice.

In the exercise above, try to extend the pronunciation of each word. Elongating the sound of a word can cost you credibility. However there can be times when it is appropriate, such as when you want to increase the effect of a word with out increasing volume.

Now try the same exercise with each of the following:

1) greater volume

2) greater intensity or feeling

3) stronger inflection

4) increase pitch (unless this is a typical weakness you are known for)

5) lower the tone

6) slow down the pace

This is a brief primer on how to use sense stress. Now, where do you do it?

As always, it comes back to the audience. What is your purpose? What do you hope to accomplish with the audience? What do you want them to walk away from the lecture with? What motivation or persuasion do you hope to effect?

Those questions are the first to ask when considering where to give appropriate emphasis.

The answer to those questions gives you clues for deciding where to add emphasis in what you say. Mastery of this is an art. Look at some of the great lines in great movies. Many were made famous for their proper use of this kind of inflection.

Consider some of the all time great speeches. The “I Have A Dream” speech and the words of JFK, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Sense stress was there.

Where to put it.

In a speech, first contextual consideration would be given priority in where sense stress would be appropriate. Given the practice above, decide which aspect of your speech needs added emphasis for your contextual situation.

If it is the people that you want to emphasize, then make sure they are emphasized through the entire body of what you say.

If you are focusing on 3 different things, let’s say people, the job and the outcome, make sure for each section, only one is emphasized.

Sense stress can also be used for initiating, highlighting, or concluding the points being addressed.

Sense stress can be used to show the personal conviction of the speaker.

In all these, it is a way to add meaning to what is being said.

General Rules

  • Use it for the theme focused thought of each section of a talk.
  • Use it to follow the common thread from the beginning to end.
  • Be selective, do not use it for too many words or too often.
  • It can be a group of words and not just individual words.
  • Use it to emphasize support for your proposition.
  • Use for the main points you want remembered.
  • Author's Bio: 

    Jonathan Steele, RN in addition to being a Nurse is an artist in acrylic on canvas painting, steel sculpture, and photography. A professional public speaker and speaking coach, he has lectured around the world on numerous topics and is host and web master of http://www.speechmastery.com/