Sunday, 28 October 2018
Don't kill your message, messenger!
He stood at the pulpit, above the altar, bright light reflecting off his head. His hands moved in an ornate dance as he spoke, like a cricketer practising bowling, or a rather camp drag queen in a pantomime. His voice relayed a great exaggerated excitement, as he shouted into a dead-still microphone, which somehow withstood the figurative spell of his hands and shouty tone.
The priest speaking to the thousand parishioner captive audience at tonight's Roman Catholic mass, at the church I attend, for me, displayed everything I avoid doing when public speaking.
Shouting alienates your audience, and causes a fight and flight response in them - they are unlikely to remember what you said, and high frequency changes in tone and passionate hand movements distract from your message and pretty soon begin to annoy an audience when you have to present to them for any real length of time: just ask parents forced to watch children's shows.
When I was still a teenager, I remember reading a book where an aircraft was in quite a bit of trouble. The air traffic controller communicating with the person flying the plane was portrayed as having an unnaturally calm and steady voice. Emergency line operators often adopt something similar. So do attorneys and advocates who regularly frequent the courts: they have a clear, crisp voice, nearing as close to non-accented speech as they can achieve, with a mouth achieving sounds in a firm but relaxed manner.
When I was doing Practical Legal Training after university, I remember sitting through the speech of a similarly passionate, or perhaps faux passionate speaker, who shouted her way through her presentation to the class, gradually turning off almost every member of her audience, with an aggression that was not assertive. The lecturer praised her boldness and passion, while the audience was captive, but not captured or captivated.
Something you learn when often speaking before people is to throw your voice, and amplify its sound without engaging in the growling tone of voice that is the essence of shouting. A good speaker gains volume, without aggression, and passion, without force. They allow their voice and message to resonate in hearts and minds, and calmly draw their audience in, as though they were speaking to each in attendance, person to person.
The large parish I attend on Sundays rotates different priests relatively often, and I often enjoy ruthlessly judging them. A similar advantageous game is to observe politicians before parliament, such as Prime Minister's Questions in the British House of Commons.
A lot can also be gained from watching the process and proceedings before court. You can often guess the seniority of advocates by how they present. The longer they have been at the game, the softer spoken, and yet firmer in what they say, they become. A lawyer in their element will present with good volume, a magical calm, and a crisp and clear voice which is easy on the ears, even when speaking for hours at a time. The power of their words is in their argument, and they tend to feel no need to growl along with it. Many a public speaker could learn much from court attorneys and advocates in this regard.
Who is Marc Evan Aupiais?
A deep interest in the law of South Africa, especially our constitutional and common law, guided my studies and continues to influence my current career path. I enjoy engaging in the day to day work of being an attorney, and reading the material contained in our case law.
I have gained and enjoyed much exposure to the law and to the day to day details of practice, and to extensive litigation work, during my years of practise since my admission to the profession and enrolment as an attorney of the High Court, as well as during my articles of clerkship and, prior to that, when I worked as a student counsellor/paralegal at the Wits Law Clinic – in the final year of law school and during my studies at the School for Legal Practice.
I am passionate about the place of my birth, South Africa, and am proud to be a patriot and citizen of this diverse and beautiful nation. I consider myself a global citizen and keep connections in a number of different nations across the world. Communicating with people from other cultures, I believe, has aided me to have a more open-minded approach in so far as how I see, and interact with, the world.
I believe success requires not just hard work but intelligence, perseverance, humility, integrity, ingenuity, diligence, a strong work ethic, and the courage to request the assistance of those better-versed in a matter, or field, where necessary.
The cultures and legal systems, morals and courtesy systems, languages, intricacies and religions of South Africa and of the nations of the world, are subjects I love to research. I enjoy reading and writing. To keep abreast with important events occurring in other countries, I find my knowledge of other languages, especially French, to be highly useful. I passed Afrikaans at a matric level. I took Zulu from grades 5 to 7. The language I am best acquainted with, is my first language of English, which I speak in everyday life.
I enjoy public speaking and debate, and believe that manners, appropriate dress for an occasion and courtesy are of very great importance. I enjoy hard work and like to throw myself entirely into solving a problem.
Law & Career
I currently work under my own name and style as an attorney and sole proprietor, at Marc Evan Aupiais Attorney.
Law firms I have worked at include: DL Wilson Attorneys in Randburg North, Desmond Barry Attorneys in Morningside, Sandton, Botha & Sutherland Attorneys in Aukland Park, Johannesburg, and Serina Govender Inc. Attorneys. I also edit and write for the SACNS, have written breaking news for a multinational service called InfosNews Breaking News, and act as a correspondent for the popular french language Les News service.
Novels I have written include
A Lesser Instinct | My first foray into the world of long form fiction.
Read it without payment - on Scribd.
I have a YouTube account, where I sometimes post videos.
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