Saturday, June 18, 2011

Public speaking isn’t opera

Last week I saw a blog post by Allison Shapira about how public speaking is not opera. She pointed out two of the biggest differences. First, in public speaking you typically are responsible for creating your material. In opera you are interpreting words and music written by someone else. Second, a speech is like an enlarged conversation, while an opera is a performance. An opera singer seeks perfection, not just excellence. He or she is often is helped by a hidden prompter. Many aspects of public speaking are similar to opera though, as shown in the following table.

Therefore you can learn a lot about speaking from watching and listening to someone who has sung opera. When I joined Capitol Club Toastmasters I encountered Jim Poston, who had a Masters in Opera Performance from the Boston Conservatory.  He had been a TV news anchorman both in Laredo, Texas and Boise, Idaho. Jim told us some amazing Midwestern tall tales, including one about getting away with murder.

He’s a graduate student in Department of Communication at Boise State University, where he’s working on his second masters degree. Jim also is on the adjunct faculty of the department of Communication at the College of Western Idaho. This summer he’s teaching Fundamentals of Oral Communication.

The image of an opera singer is from here.

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

I have only seen one opera in my life, yet it was more engaging than most public speaking presentations. Color, action, music and movement. I like to include all these elements in my presentations.