The Importance of Voice – Julia Gillard
Julia Gillard’s voice has been a topic of discussion since the time she stood in the public eye (Wilson 2010). Gillard indeed has a thick Australian accent and really enunciates her words. Personally, although I agree that she has a very broad accent that may distract from what she is saying, I do not concur that she has a ‘horrible’ or ‘excruciating’ voice (Wilson 2010). As stated by voice coach Lucy Cornell in the interview with Sydney’s 2UE, Gillard’s voice suits her field of work where she is responsible for making public speeches and talking in a clear, professional manner to get messages across (VoiceCoachGlobal’s channel 2010).
In 2012, Julia Gillard – Australia’s Prime Minister at the time – made a speech in response to opposition leader Tony Abbott’s motion and labelled him a misogynist. At the beginning, I of course noticed her ‘nasally’ voice and will admit to cringing when she raised her voice to emphasise her points and draw attention. It only took a few seconds before I was not paying attention to her voice but rather what she was saying. My reaction was fully influenced by the content of her speech and the way in which she delivered it – not how the words sounded coming out of her mouth. As Ames (2016) states, ‘…there are assumptions and attitudes associated with a person’s ability and class based on how they speak.’ If Gillard sounded like actress Cate Blanchett, I do believe she would be perceived in a different way. Blanchett’s voice is much softer and soothing, which is easier to listen to. My views would not change on the content of what was said by Gillard if her voice were different, but it would be easier to listen to. Her voice could quite easily be improved by making some slight changes including adding more lightness to her voice and raising her speech rate as it is quite slow (Frenkel 2011).
After reading the news script aloud and recording my voice, I noticed different aspects of strength in my voice and also parts that need improvement.
The speech as a whole was fairly well spoken in regard to being easily understandable and clear to the listener. I spoke at an appropriate volume with minimal background noise. I also avoided filling empty spaces or pauses with ‘ums’ or ‘ers’ which helped the speech run smoothly (Lennon 2013).
A few improvements can definitely be made in my voice. I should work on my pace while talking – at parts I spoke too fast and others were much slower causing a loss of interest in the content. It is difficult to pick up on your own accent as we as people do not notice aspects of ourselves that we live with day in and day out (Brewer 2014). However, I would say that you can definitely tell I have an Australian accent – especially hearing it as a non-Australian – but it is more general in comparison to some. I made occasional stutters that could be attributed to lack of concentration, having a lot to say, talking too quickly or not knowing the content well enough. Many Australian voices sound like they are ‘going up’ at the end of a sentence or in each word, which is something I noticed while listening to my voice (Ames 2016). Although not a negative thing, this should be worked on – especially when presenting news stories. In a tutorial, COMM12033 Speech and Script, presented at CQUniversity, Rockhampton, on 15 March 2016, Anderson suggested that readers of news stories should only ‘go up’ when talking about a positive or neutral situation and ‘go down’ when presenting a sensitive or serious situation.
After critiquing and reflecting on my voice, it is obvious that some improvements are to be made. These weaknesses will be actively worked on throughout the semester in COMM12033 Speech and Script as well as maintaining my strengths.
ABC News (Australia) 2012, Gillard labels Abbott a misogynist, video, 8 October, viewed 13 March 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihd7ofrwQX0
Ames, K 2016, COMM12033: Speech and Script Lesson 2 Perspectives on Speech: study guide, CQUniversity e-courses, https://moodle.cqu.edu.au/pluginfile.php/293225/mod_resource/content/8/COMM12033_Week2_Mod.pdf
Brewer, L 2014, I don’t have an accent – or do I?, viewed 21 March 2016, http://confidencelearningservices.com/no-accent-reduction/
Frenkel, D 2011, ‘Drop the Gillard twang: it’s beginning to annoy’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 April, viewed 19 March 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/drop-the-gillard-twang-its-beginning-to-annoy-20110420-1dosf.html
Lennon, D. JobMonkey Blog 2013, ‘How To Avoid Stumbling Over You Words’, blog post, 9 June, viewed 21 March 2016, http://www.jobmonkey.com/avoid-stumbling-over-words/
VoiceCoachGlobal’s channel 2010, Murray Olds and Murray Wilton on Sydney’s 2UE: Julia Gillard’s voice, video, 24 June, viewed 13 March 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEybGzg1Nxs
Wilson, A. Crikey 2010, ‘Gillard’s intellect and Blanchett’s voice?’ blog post, 1 July, viewed 13 March 2016, http://blogs.crikey.com.au/fullysic/2010/07/01/gillards-intellect-and-blanchetts-voice/