Tuesday, August 1, 2017

High-Impact Public Speaking: a 30-Second Clip Displaying Stunning Vocal Variety by the Great Christopher Plummer

[Rewritten September 13, 2017]
The video clip below is from “The Exception,” a recent movie set in 1940 and centered on the last German Kaiser (Wilhelm II, played by actor extraordinaire Christopher Plummer) who, at the time, was living in exile in Holland.  

Background: For much of the 30-second clip, you see the Plummer character in a rage--he is fulminating because, moments earlier, a young guest at the dinner table had (naively) spoken about the privations suffered by his family in the aftermath of Germany’s defeat in WWI. To the Kaiser, the lament is a personal affront and hence the tantrum. [The opening words in the clip: “And this is my thanks? Nobody cares! My navy betrayed me...my army fell apart...”] 

Discussion of Plummer’s exemplary display of vocal variety, which is a key ingredient of highly effective public speaking: Beginning at the nine-second mark, we hear the Kaiser blame (General) Ludendorff, (Naval Minister) Tirpitz, and one other former official for his nation’s defeat, followed by “They stabbed me in the back. They lost me the war.” Then comes one of the most exceptional demonstrations of vocal variety I’ve ever seen: To give strong emphasis to his concluding words “They lost me my country,” Plummer takes a long, pregnant pause before uttering them in a dramatically lower voice volume and pitch. Public speaking at its absolute finest! 

BTW, just last week, one of my clients (an executive VP at a large healthcare firm here in Houston) was inspired by this very clip to inject some extraordinary--and extremely effective--vocal variety during the conclusion of a pep talk to her employees.

© Copyright 2017  V. J. Singal


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