The Effectiveness of Mary Fisher’s Speech
In today’s world the mention of AIDS is still capable of instantly causing an overwhelming feeling of discomfort. It is not something that is easily snuck into conversation. With this being said, to be able to stand in front of millions of people and come out and say that you have AIDS in a time where it was even less openly spoken of is very bold. Mary Fisher did just that when she told the world she had this destructive disease at the 1992 Republican National Convention Address. She was prepared, the structure of the speech was successful, and her body language was specific to her purpose, among other characteristics of a well delivered speech. Mary’s speech was effective in a time where AIDS was a whisper. No one could have delivered this speech better than she did.
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The speech she made was well thought out and perfect for the audience she wanted the message conveyed to. To say that her speech was effective is an understatement. Women in the audience were crying and there was much emotion displayed in the faces of all others. An effective speech is one that is delivered, accepted, and accomplishes its purpose. Mary’s speech fit all these criteria. She was not the least bit intimidated by the large audience at the Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas and all the viewers watching as her speech was broadcast. She stood behind that podium and had the perfect pitch for the microphone that was stationary in front of her.
One of the most crucial components of her success in delivery was the structure of her speech. Her introduction explained how she came to be speaking in front of that audience at that moment in time. She elaborated when she mentioned “Less than three months ago at platform hearings in Salt Lake City, I asked the Republican Party to lift the shroud of silence which has been draped over the issue of HIV and AIDS” (Fisher “A Whisper of AIDS”).Her main ideas involved ignorance in regards to the epidemic, the prejudice that exists around it, and the silence that needs to be broken among those who have dealt with it. She previewed her main ideas when she said, “We have killed each other with our ignorance, our prejudice, and our silence” (Fisher “A Whisper of AIDS”). These main points were easy to follow since she clearly explained what she meant with each. She also summarized these points separately. An example would be when she mentions loving justice and ignoring prejudice as something we must not do. These summarizations allowed her main ideas to be easily identified. Another identifiable example would be her saying that the nation is at risk unless her message is embraced. She can be so passionate as to her message since she herself is HIV positive, her mentioning this established her credibility. Her language was effective as she had no grammatical errors and was easily understood.
Mary’s purpose was to inform her audience on the risk of its ignorance in dealing with the gravity of AIDS. An informative speech is one that is meant to reach its audience and not allow them to leave without new information they did not have prior to listening. The whole speech was made in order to create awareness and she accomplished that. It was not a conversational presentation. Mary was able to touch the lives of others by allowing them to see how she has overcome the infection and not allowed it to overcome her.
Mary’s speech was moving and she pursued and achieved her purpose. She chose to inform others so that the prejudice around AIDS could decrease by the time her kids grew up and also to prevent others from going through what she did. Her goal was to inform ALL who were listening or watching of the deteriorating disease that is AIDS and that it should not be whispered for its consequences are so loud. It made much sense since in 1992 AIDS was not taken as seriously and was not spoken of as much as it is today. Mary’s message invoked emotion as she described her experience and elaborated as to how she does not fit the stereotype of a typical person with HIV. Her message commanded attention as she simply asked her audience to build alertness for their own safety and the safety of their families.
Mary’s delivery was flawless. One thing that was not clear was whether or not she mastered memorizing her speech or if it was an extemporaneous speech. Based on her eye contact, it was not even obvious if indeed she was reading. Regardless of what method she used to deliver her speech, it worked as it proved to be highly effective. Her points were very clear and precise and the structure was also well organized. She was very well prepared to face the millions of people watching her and this was obvious with her body language, her tone, her pitch, and lack of anxiety. There was never any indication of a stutter or moment of which she did not hold her ground.
Throughout the duration of her speech, Mary always kept her audience’s undivided attention. She accomplished this through her body language, appearance, and tone. The audience was acknowledged when she paused for applause. Mary also was able to maintain eye contact throughout the entire speech. Since her language needed no help, she also needed no gestures. Her vibrant language was accompanied by the proper attire for such an event as she was well groomed and defined in her appearance. Mary was never uncomfortable and maintained the right posture at all moments.
The language used by Mary was very colorful as she built images in your mind as she spoke. She was especially touching when stating, “Though I am white and a mother, I am one with a black infant struggling with tubes in a Philadelphia hospital” (Fisher “A Whisper of AIDS”). She was able to maintain vocal variety through her pitch and loudness, the rate at which she spoke, and the pauses she took after stating some points for dramatic effect. The rate at which she spoke was appropriate as she did not speak too fast or too slow and her precision was shown with the right amount loudness.
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The audience’s reaction was the main method of which one could see how effective Mary’s speech was. Their reaction was excellent as she compelled them to cry, applaud, and fully embrace the message. As was previously stated, no one could have delivered this speech the way Mary Fisher did. She was touching because she spoke on what she was dealing with personally. The speech has built my awareness on AIDS even in this decade. I have always been avid in telling others to always be safe in all aspects in respect to AIDS. However, seeing Mary made me much less ill-informed since I held somewhat of a stereotype as to what a person with AIDS is like as well, a stereotype Mary would never fit into.
I would have to state that this speech touched me. Mary allowed me to feel her pain and her passion when it came to the subject. She brought me to tears when she dedicated a part of it to her sons Zachary and Max. If I were to ever be placed in a situation like that I would hope to be so lucky as to have a tenth of the strength that Mary displayed. For her to state “I represent an AIDS community whose members have been reluctantly drafted from every segment of American society.” (Fisher “A Whisper of AIDS”) was just so powerful to me. For Mary to stand there and state she is that face was compelling. If I were selected to be the one to deliver this speech I would have tried to replicate Mary, for I felt her delivery was flawless. I was amazed at how she established credibility, her eye contact, and the composure she maintained when at moments it almost seemed she was holding back tears. I saw no weaknesses in her speech. The amount of passion she displayed in her message was emanating from my computer screen. The structure and delivery of her speech was made specifically for her audience which included all kinds of people looking in from everywhere, it was not just there in Houston. I would not have changed the audience or the venue as this message was broadcast to anyone willing to watch and listen.
From my observation, Mary’s speech was perfectly structured. She previewed her main points and connected them successfully. There was not a single thing that I can say was missing. Personally, I can state that I would pay up to $100 to watch Mary speak because her speech was so compelling. She grasped me with her words and brought me to tears when acknowledging her family and how supportive they have been in her struggle. Mary is a survivor.
“A Whisper of AIDS” by Mary Fisher was a success with its powerful message. Mary was an exemplary presenter as she touches the hearts of many with her illustrative yet remarkable words. Her structure is precise and she previews her main points effectively and then hits each point throughout impeccably. Her performance is one to envy based on the flawlessness and passion it contained.
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