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of the subject; (4) a summing up of the expository matter by a specific statement of the essential phases which must be discussed in order to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. How much, if any of this exposition, need be used depends upon the nature of the subject, the nature of the audience, or both.


I. Determined by the Subject

In some cases the essence of the whole speech. is historical or expository. Such, for example, would be an account of a convention, a biographical address, or the explanation of a machine or a manufacturing process. Obviously, little or no introductory exposition would be required in such a case to prepare the audience to understand the subject. On the other hand, for certain complex topics, particularly those which are argumentative, the audience needs an explanatory introduction in order to be able to judge with understanding the merits of the ideas advanced in the development of the address. A talk on "The New York City School System," let us say, might need for introduction only the appeal for attention and interest. But the subject, "Should New York City Adopt the Gary System?" would

require a careful elucidation of terms and conditions.

II. Determined by the Audience

The nature of the introduction is further determined by the audience addressed; first, in respect to its understanding; second, with reference to its attitude toward the subject. Naturally, if a particular body of listeners is conversant with the terms, general history and bearings of a subject, the speaker will be freed in great measure from preliminary explanation. Indeed, any superfluous exposition would tend to weary, or perhaps antagonize, the audience. On the contrary, if a given audience is unacquainted with the general subject for consideration, however simple it may be, care must be taken to provide adequate initiation.

Then as to the attitude of those addressed. Sometimes an audience is so keenly interested in a subject that any of the customary bids for attention or interest are a waste of time, or even out of place. In other cases there may be hostility toward the speaker personally, or toward the views which he is known to hold. The speaker must, in that event, make an attempt at the very outset to placate his hearers. To start out directly to force his ideas down the very throats of an unsympathetic audience is likely to result disas

trously. Brutus could tell the cobblers and carpenters of Rome to keep still and hear what he had to say, but Antony with his courteous explanation of his presence got much the better of the bargain. And what is of even greater significance, the average modern audience, in spite of points of similarity, is not to be mistaken for a Roman mob. But while it cannot be bullied, it is almost always favorably responsive to an appeal for a fair hearing; or to a statement of earnest desire to get at the truth of a vexed problem; or to a modest plea setting forth the speaker's qualification for venturing to discuss the topic; or to an expression of sympathetic understanding of the listeners' attitude toward the matter under consideration. Probably some of my readers are familiar with Henry Ward Beecher's successful opening appeal for "fair play" in one of his antislavery speeches, before an intensely hostile audience in Liverpool. After speaking briefly of his opposition to slavery, and of the Southern leanings he had encountered in England, he said:

"If I do not mistake the tone and temper of Englishmen, they had rather have a man who opposes them in a manly way than a sneak who agrees with them in an unmanly way. If I can carry you with me by sound convictions, I shall be immensely glad; but if I cannot carry you with me by sound arguments, I do not wish you to go

with me at all; and all that I ask is simply fair play."

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A similarly successful opening, which I recently heard, was at the occasion of a "preparedness' address by Major General Leonard Wood, U. S. A. His introductory statements were to the effect that no one was more earnestly desirous of peace than military men-men who had taken part in the making of war and were therefore most keenly appreciative of the horrors of war. From this he led into his central theme, a plea for preparedness in order to prevent war. Although the audience was largely composed of militant young pacifists, General Wood was able by beginning with expressions of sympathetic understanding of his listeners' attitude to gain a very favorable hearing.

When a speaker approaches a hostile audience in one of the ways indicated above, he is usually able to gain for himself and his views at least an attitude of tolerance, without which he could not continue with any hope of success.


This chapter has attempted to point out various specific ways of introducing a speech to meet the requirements of ordinary and special circumstances. It was first noted that a deliberate pause before opening gives the speaker a distinct advantage.

It was then urged that he avoid the conventional apology, which fails to realize the aims of a good opening. These aims were shown to be best served by beginning with one or more of the following: a reference to attendant circumstances, a sincere compliment to the audience, a significant narration or description, a pertinent literary allusion, a reference to a timely remark or incident.

After the opening, which is designed to interest the audience and foreshadow the central idea of the address, comes the presentation of the topic. It was suggested that such exposition be used at this point as the complexity of the subject or the nature of the audience requires. The specific means of exposition advocated, any or all of which may be used, were: a historical review, a presentation of the general situation existing, a careful definition of the terms constituting the topic, a succinct statement of the salient phases to be considered in the body.

The speaker was advised not to weary his audience with superfluous exposition, nor to dwell on pleasantries when the audience is intense about the subject of discussion. For placating a hostile assemblage, an appeal for a fair hearing, a statement of earnest desire for truth, a modest claim of adequate qualification to speak, or an expression of sympathy with the views of the audience were proposed.

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