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If it's worth's worth saying well

07 August 23

‘An outstanding voice is the most powerful instrument in the speaker’s  tool box. Spending time to improve the way you sound has enormous benefits in many areas of your life … it reflects your education and your self-esteem and carries your passion.’ - Speaking Skills for Every Occasion, Pascal Press 2003

As a professional voice artist for over 20 years, I would like to share some insights on how to prepare and deliver a charge. All lodge officers and those delivering charges have the unique opportunity of imparting great knowledge and wonderful stories to candidates. So if it is worth saying, is it not worth saying well?

All people possess the same remarkable and versatile in-built instrument that allows us to have a clear voice, namely the human aerophone. It is the most portable of all instruments, yet most do not know how to play it. If we understand how the aerophone functions, then we can alter, adjust, project and even refine our voices.

To produce our voice we take air into the lungs. As we exhale the air travels up the trachea, through the larynx where it vibrates over two vocal chords; it resonates in the chest cavity, hollow areas of the neck, the mouth and nose. We in turn articulate by use of our teeth, lips, tongue and soft palate. That is how the aerophone works.

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Professional voice artist, VW Bro Adam Whitby, in the recording studio

So to improve our delivery we need to breathe – a good, slow breath down in the diaphragm, not in the chest area, similar to a woodwind musician.  We need to awaken the facial mask and open our mouths.  The facial mask tells a lot, it shows a happy person or a distressed person. If you deliver a charge with your facial mask awake and alive in the shape of a smile, the warmth will be conveyed. Likewise if you have a frown, and the mouth is not opening to get the words out, the delivery can sound dull or flat. Ensure the head is not facing down or upwards so the voice is not hindered by our  body  posture.  Too often we see brethren looking down as they deliver ritual with the words travelling in the wrong direction, straight into the carpet, soaked up like blotting paper.

Australians are lazy talkers, that is we finish ‘nothin’ and often speak too quickly. As masons we are fortunate to have an ancient and fascinating ritual to recite in our ceremonies. So if you combine lazy speech patterns, poor breathing, talkin’ too quick and speaking to the floor, few will hear it and few will benefit from the instructive lessons or the theatre of the charge.

To put these techniques into practice, first learn the ritual to the best of your ability. The only way to learn and deliver is by practising aloud. Even just above a whisper, practising aloud prepares you for difficult words or phrasing. We never slip up when reading a book, but if you were to read that book aloud to people there would be a different outcome! Try reading it aloud in different styles – dramatic, heartfelt, happy etc – this is easier for some than others but incredibly helpful. To ensure we are using our facial mask, practice in front of a mirror. This way you can make certain you are opening your mouth and taking on the right facial shape. As an example begin with a smile. This puts your candidate at ease and tells him you’re his friend. If the ritual delves to a serious side, take on the facial mask to reinforce the story.

Whilst some brethren relish the opportunity to deliver ritual, less experienced masons can suffer nerves. Here are four tips to delivering a memorable charge:

First - if you know your work the nerves are already better off.

Second – Remember everyone in that lodge room is your friend and brother and they want you to do well. It will play in your subconscious and help you perform well and enjoy the spotlight.

Third   – Breathe!!  Deep, relaxing breaths just before you begin will help whilst calming you and expanding your diaphragm.

Lastly, take your time when you practice or deliver your ritual in the lodge room. If your delivery pace reflects that of your practice pace, your memory finds it easier to recall. No one wants to hear a charge delivered at a snail’s pace or like a horse race, so ensure the pace is that of a good storyteller. Look to those brethren who have captivated you with their ritual; they are the ones who ‘tell the story’.

‘If you deliver a charge with your facial mask awake and alive in the shape of a smile, the warmth will  be conveyed’


By VW Bro Adam Whitby, PDGDC - December 2012 Freemason Magazine




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