Another ‘mumbling’ TV programme debate is ragging. This time it is regarding the speaking of some of the actors in SS GB. A couple of the lead actors’ dialogue is so inaudible, leading to comments on social media, and the BBC promising to look at the sound mix and levels to improve the audience experience.
I should admit that I watched the first 15 minutes but got very bored, and certainly wasn’t engaged by the drama. But to be fair, it probably isn’t my type of drama!
However reading articles and listening to radio debates on the matter: with both angry (and frustrated) viewers pitched against actors and directors. This proved to be interesting, and raised more questions to me, as a speaking trainer. I have summarised some of the statements and questions, with some of the answers from the creatives and cast.
Why do the actors not enunciate their words like they did before?
This is a contemporary style of acting, that is more natural on TV and on film. Some of the great theatre actors, such as Olivier struggled to make the switch from the theatre stage to film without looking and sounding as though he was overacting. It was a case of scaling the performance With film and TV, the camera is very close to the action and contemporary actors scale their performances to suit the medium.
But the actors are now mumbling!
If the actors were to adopt the over enunciated spoken style of the 50s they would sound very odd! The style is now to be very natural, as though the viewer is part of a conversation or at least listening in.
But the actors are now mumbling. Didn’t you hear us?
There must be an artistic decision between the actor and director, to create more tension within a scene. If the audience has to work hard to hear the conversation, it is going to be real. This might also be the reason why background music is more prominent in certain scenes.
But the dialogue is drowned out! Even when I turn up the volume I can’t hear the dialogue.
This will be an artistic decision to make the audience listen very hard to the dialogue.
The trouble is that many members of the audience want to be entertained and not ‘work hard’ to hear the dialogue and plot, let alone be entertained. They then switch off.
So why am I discussing a TV programme? Well there are some similarities between the audience of a programme, and your audience – whether it be in a meeting, a speech, presentation or conference call. If you mumble, your audience is going to SWITCH OFF. If you don’t speak clearly or with clarity your audience is going to SWITCH OFF. They are not going to listen to what you say; and sadly your contribution will be disregarded, devalued, ignored!
So even if a director is wanting create a natural performance, this DOES NOT WORK in the business environment, where your audience with SWITCH OFF. So please speak clearly and with clarity.
If you wish to have some support to ensure you speak clearly and with clarity, contact me. I train people to speak clearly and to use their body language in a positive way to make an impact. One course is the vocal coaching training. I work with individuals to ensure they speak clearly. Give me a call; we’ll ensure you make an impact!