Pause for Emphasis. A pause for emphasis is often a dramatic
one, that is, one that precedes or follows a statement or a question
delivered with a measure of intensity. Such a pause gives the audi-
ence opportunity to reﬂect on what has just been said, or it creates
expectancy for what is to follow. These are not the same. Decide
which is the appropriate method to use. But keep in mind thatpaus-
es for emphasis should be limited to truly signiﬁcant statements.
Otherwise, the value of those statements will be lost.
When Jesus read aloud from the Scriptures in the synagogue of
Nazareth, he made eﬀective use of the pause. First, he read his com-
missionfrom thescrolloftheprophetIsaiah.However,before apply-
ing it,herolledthescroll up,handed it backtotheattendant,andsat
down. Then, with the eyes of all in the synagogue intently ﬁxed on
him, he said: “Today this scripture that you just heard is fulﬁlled.”
Pause When Circumstances Require It. Interruptions may also
occasionally require that you pause in your speech. The noise of
passing traﬃc or a crying child may require an interruption in con-
versationwith a householder you have met in the ﬁeld ministry.If a
disturbance at a placeof assembly is nottoo severe,you may be able
to raiseyour volume and continue.Butif thedisturbanceis loudand
prolonged,you must pause. Your audience will not be listening any-
way.So use pausingeﬀectively, witha view to helping your audience
getthe full beneﬁt of the good things that you want to tell them.
Pause to Allow for Response. Although you may be giving a talk
with no provision for formal audience participation, it is important
to allow the audience to respond, not audibly, but mentally. If you
pose questions that should make your audience think but then you
fail to pause suﬃciently, much of the value of those questions will
Of course, it is important to pause not only when speaking from
aplatform but also when witnessing to others. Some people nev-
er seem to pause. If that is your problem, put forth earnest eﬀort to
cultivate this speech quality. You will improve in your communica-
tionwith others as wellas intheeﬀectivenessofyour ministry in the
ﬁeld.A pause is a momentof silence, and it has truthfully been said
thatsilencepunctuates,itemphasizes,itcommands attention,and it
refreshes the ear.
Everyday conversation involves a two-way ﬂow of thoughts. Oth-
ers are more inclined to listen to you when you listen to them and
show interest in what they say. This requires that you pause long
enough to give them opportunity to express themselves.
In the ﬁeld ministry, our witnessing is often more eﬀective when
itisdoneintheform ofconversation.After anexchangeofgreetings,
many Witnesses ﬁnd it good to identify their subject and then pose
aquestion.They pauseto givetheother personopportunity toreply,
and then they acknowledge what the householder said. During the
discussion, they may give the householder a number of opportuni-
ties to comment. They know thatthey canusually do more to help a
person if they know his views on the matter being discussed.—Prov.
Of course, not everyone will respond to questions in a favorable
way.Butthatdid notdeterJesus from stopping longenoughto allow
opportunity even for opposers to speak. (Mark 3:1-5) Allowing the
other person opportunity to speak encourages him to think, and he
may, as a result, reveal what is in his heart. One of the purposes of
our ministry is,infact,to stir a heartfeltresponseby presenting peo-
plewith vital issues from God’s Word onwhich they must make de-
Use of appropriate pausing in our ministry is indeed an art. When
pauses are used eﬀectively, ideas are more clearly conveyed and are
often lastingly remembered.
Read Mark 9:1-13 aloud; pauseappropriately for the variousmarksofpunc-
tuation. Do not let the reading drag. After you have practiced, ask
someone to listen to you and oﬀer suggestions for improvement in your
WHEN you speak or read aloud, it is important not only that you
say individual words correctly butalsothatyouemphasizekey words
and thought-containing expressions in a way that conveys ideas
Proper sense stress involves more thangiving added emphasis to a
few words or even to many. The right words must be em-
phasized.If thewrong words are stressed, the meaning of
what you say may be unclear to your audience, who, in
turn, may let their thoughts drift to other things. Even
thoughthe material may be good, adelivery having poor
sense stress will be less eﬀective in motivating the audi-
Added emphasis canbeconveyedbyvarious means,fre-
quently used in combination: by greater volume, by more intensity
of feeling, by slow and deliberate expression, by pausing before or
after a statement (or both), and by gestures and facial expressions.
In some languages, emphasis can also be conveyed by lowering the
tone or raising the pitch. Take into account the material and the cir-
cumstances to determine what would be most appropriate.
When deciding what to emphasize, consider the following.
(1)Withinany sentence,the words that should begivenaddedstress
are determined not only by the rest of the sentence but also by the
context. (2) Sense stress may be used to emphasize the beginning of
anew thought, whether a main pointor simply a change in the line
ofreasoning.It mightalso drawattentionto the conclusionofa line
of reasoning. (3) A speaker may employ sense stress to show how he
feels abouta matter. (4) Proper sense stress can also be used to high-
light the mainpoints of a talk.
In order to use sense stress in these ways, a speaker or a pub-
lic reader must clearly understand his material and earnestly want
PROPER SENSE STRESS
What doyou need to do?
Emphasize words and phrases in a way that makes it easy for
listeners to grasp the ideas being expressed.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
his audience to absorb it. Regarding instruction given in the days of
Ezra, Nehemiah 8:8 states: “They continued reading aloud from the
book, from the law of the true God, it being expounded, and there
being aputting ofmeaning into it; andthey continuedgiving under-
standing in the reading.” It is obvious that those who read and ex-
plained God’s Law on that occasion realized the importance of help-
ing their audience to grasp the meaning of what was read, to retain
it, and to apply it.
What May Cause a Problem. Most people are able to make their
meaning clear in normal, everyday conversation. However, when
they read material that was written by someone else, determining
which words or expressions to stress may present a challenge. The
key lies in clearly understanding the material. That requires careful
study of what was written.So if you are asked to read some material
at a congregation meeting, you should prepare diligently.
Somepeople use whatmightbetermed “periodic stress” instead of
sensestress.They emphasizewords at fairly speciﬁcintervals,wheth-
er such emphasis is meaningful or not. Others emphasize func-
tion words, perhaps putting exaggerated stress on prepositions and
conjunctions. When the emphasis does not contribute to clarity of
thought, iteasily becomes a distracting mannerism.
In an eﬀort to use sense stress, some speakers employ increased
volume in away that may maketheaudiencefeel thatthey arebeing
scolded.Of course, that seldom yields the best results. If sense stress
is not natural, the impression may be given that the speaker is talk-
ing downtohis audience.Howmuchbetter simply toappealtothem
on the basis of love and to help them see that what is being said is
both Scriptural and reasonable!
How to Improve. Often a person who has a problem with sense
stress is not aware of it. Someone else may need to draw it to his at-
tention. If you need to make improvement in this area, your school
overseer will help you.Also,feel freeto askforhelp fromanyone else
who is agood speaker.Askhim tolisten carefully to your reading and
speaking and then to oﬀer suggestions for improvement.
As a start, your counselor may suggest that you use an article in
The Watchtower as a basis for practice. He will undoubtedly tell you
to analyze individual sentences to determine which words or phras-
Proper Sense Stress
es need to be emphasized in order to make the meaning easy to
grasp. He may remind you to give special attention to certain words
that are italicized. Remember that words within a sentence work to-
gether. Frequently, it is a group ofwords thatshould be emphasized,
notmerely anisolatedword.Insomelanguages,students may been-
couraged to give more careful consideration to what diacritics indi-
cate as to proper sense stress.
As the next step in learning what to emphasize, your
counselor may urge you to consider a context that is
broader than the sentence itself. What central thought
is being developed in the entire paragraph? How should
that inﬂuence whatyou emphasize in the individual sen-
tences? Look at the title of the article and at the boldface
subheading under which your material appears. What
bearing do these have onyour selection of expressions to
emphasize? All of these are factors to consider. But take
care not to put strong emphasis on too many words.
Whether you will be speaking extemporaneously or
reading, your counselor may also encourage you to allow
the line of reasoning to inﬂuence the use of sense stress.
ends orwherethepresentationshifts fromoneimportant
thought to another. The audience will appreciate it if your delivery
alerts them to these places. This might be done by accenting such
words as ﬁrst ofall, next, ﬁnally, thus,and reasonably.
Your counselor will alsodirectyourattentiontothoughts towhich
you want to attach special feeling. To do this you might emphasize
such words as very, absolutely, by no means, unthinkable, important,
and always. Your doing so can inﬂuence how your audience feels
about what you are saying. More will be said about this in Study 11,
“Warmth and Feeling.”
To improve your use ofsense stress,you will also beencouraged to
haveclearly in mind the mainpoints that you wantyour audienceto
remember. This will be given further consideration from the stand-
pointofpublicreadinginStudy 7,“PrincipalIdeas Emphasized,” and
from the standpoint of speaking in Study 37, “Main Points Made to
HOW TO DEVELOP IT
supportyour reasonfor re-
Proper Sense Stress
If you are endeavoring to improve in your ﬁeld ministry, give spe-
cial attention to how you read scriptures. Make it a practice to ask
yourself, ‘Why am I reading this text?’ For a teacher, simply saying
the words properly is not always enough.Even reading thetext with
feeling may not suﬃce. If you are answering someone’s question or
teaching a basic truth, it is good to emphasize in the scripture the
words or expressions that support what is being discussed. Other-
wise, the person to whom you are reading may miss the point.
Sincesense stress involves giving added emphasis to certainwords
and phrases, an inexperienced speaker may tend to hit those words
and phrases too hard. The results will be somewhat like the notes
played by a person who is just beginning to learn a musical instru-
ment.Withadded practice,however,theindividual “notes”willsim-
ply becomepartof “music” that is beautifully expressive.
After you have learnedsome of the basics,you will be ina position
to beneﬁtby observing experienced speakers. You will sooncome to
realize what can be accomplished by varying degrees of emphasis.
And you will appreciate the value of using emphasis in various ways
to make clear the meaning of what is said. Developing proper sense
stress will greatly enhancethe eﬀectiveness ofyour own reading and
Do not learn just enough about sense stress to get by. In or-
der to speak eﬀectively, keep working at it until you have mastered
sensestress and can use itin away that sounds natural to the ears of
(1) Select two scriptures that youfrequently use in the ﬁeld ministry. Deter-
minewhatyouareendeavoringto provewitheachtext. Readthetexts aloud
in a manner that emphasizes the words or groups of words that support
those points. (2) Study Hebrews 1:1-14. Why must the words “prophets”
(vs. 1), “Son” (vs. 2), and “angels” (vss. 4, 5) be given special emphasis in
order to express clearly the line of reasoning in this chapter? Practice read-
ing the chapter aloud with sense stress that keeps the line of reasoning in
Proper Sense Stress
AN EFFECTIVE reader looks beyond the individual sentence, even
beyond the paragraphinwhich itappears. When he reads, he has in
mindtheprincipal ideas intheentire body ofmaterialthat heis pre-
senting.This inﬂuences his placement of emphasis.
If this process is not followed, there will be no peaks in the de-
livery. Nothing will stand out clearly. When the presen-
tation is concluded, it may be diﬃcult to remember any-
thing as being outstanding.
Proper attention to the emphasizing of principal ideas
can often do much to enhance the reading of an account
from the Bible. Such emphasis can impart added signif-
icanceto thereading ofparagraphs at a home Bible study
or at a congregation meeting. And it is especially important when
giving a discourse from a manuscript, as is sometimes done at our
HowtoDoIt. In the school,you may be assigned to read aportion
of the Bible. What should be emphasized? If there is some central
idea or important event around which the material that you will be
reading has beendeveloped,itwould be appropriatetomake it stand
Whether the portion you are to read is poetry or prose, proverb or
narrative, your audience will beneﬁt if you read itwell.(2 Tim. 3:16,
17) To dothis you musttakeinto account boththepassages that you
are going to read and your audience.
If you are to read aloud from a publication at a Bible study or at a
congregation meeting, what are the principal ideas that you need to
emphasize? Treat the answers to the printed study questions as the
principal ideas. Also emphasize thoughts that relate to the boldface
subheading under which the material appears.
PRINCIPAL IDEAS EMPHASIZED
What doyou need to do?
When reading aloud, put special emphasis on the principal
ideas in the entire body of material being read, not merely in
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
It is not recommended that you make a practice of using a
manuscript for talks given in the congregation. On occasion, how-
ever, manuscripts are provided for certain convention discourses so
that the same thoughts will be presented in the same way at all
the conventions. In order to emphasize the principal ideas in such
amanuscript, the speaker must ﬁrst analyze the materi-
al carefully. What are the main points? He should be able
to recognize these. The main points are not simply ideas
that he feels are interesting. They are the key thoughts
around whichthe material itself is developed.Sometimes
aconcise statement of a principal idea in the manuscript
introduces a narrative or a line of argument. More often,
astrong statement is made after the supporting evidence
has been presented. When these key points have been
identiﬁed, the speaker should mark them in his manu-
script. There usually are only a few, probably not more
than four or ﬁve. Next, he needs to practice reading in
such a way that the audience can readily identify them.
These arethepeaks of the talk. Ifthematerialis delivered
with proper emphasis, these principal ideas are more likely to be re-
membered.That should bethe speaker’s goal.
There are various ways in which a speaker can convey the empha-
sis needed to help the audience identify the main points. He might
propriate gestures, to mentiona few.
POINTS TO KEEP
inorder toidentify theprin-
SelectﬁveparagraphsfromaWatchtowerarticlescheduledfor study. Under-
score the answers to the study questions for those paragraphs. Read the
paragraphs aloud in such a way that the answers will beeasy for a listener
Principal Ideas Emphasized
IF A public speaker lacks needed volume, some in the audience may
begin to doze. If a publisher speaks too softly in the ﬁeld ministry,
he may not hold the attention of the householder. And at meetings
wherecomments from the audience are not given with adequate vol-
ume, those presentwill not receiveneededencouragement.(Heb.10:
24, 25) On the other hand, if a speaker increases his
volume at the wrong time, the audience may become un-
comfortable—even annoyed.—Prov. 27:14.
ConsiderYourAudience. Towhomareyou speaking?to
an individual? to a family group? to a modest-sized group
that is meeting for ﬁeld service? to the entire congrega-
tion? or to a large convention? It is evident that volume
suitable in one situation might not be appropriate in an-
On various occasions, servants of God have spoken to
large audiences. At the inauguration of the temple in Je-
rusalem in the days of Solomon, there was no sound equipment. So
Solomonstood on anelevatedplatform and blessed thepeople“with
aloud voice.” (1 Ki. 8:55; 2 Chron. 6:13) Centuries later, after the
outpouring of holy spirit at Pentecost 33 C.E., a multitude—some in-
terested, others mocking—gathered around the small body of Chris-
tians inJerusalem.Showing practicalwisdom, Peter “stood up ...and
raised his voice.” (Acts 2:14) Apowerful witness was given.
Howcanyou tell whether the volumethat you areusing is suitable
ina givensituation? Audiencereaction is one of thebest barometers.
If you notice that some in the audience are straining to hear, you
should endeavor to adjust your volume.
Whether we arespeaking to anindividual or to a group,itis wiseto
consider who make up the audience. If someone is hard of hearing,
What doyou need to do?
Speak with suﬃcient loudness or intensity of voice. In de-
termining what is suitable, consider (1) the size and the
makeup of your audience, (2) distracting noises, (3) the
materialbeing discussed, and (4) your objective.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
hear you, theirminds may
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