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The directions set forth in this chapter will, it is hoped, provide for effectively planned introductions. And ordinarily the speaker will be sufficiently advised as to the conditions which he will meet to enable him to proceed as he has intended. But he must always be prepared, when he appears before an audience, to alter his method of approach in case the immediate circumstances make a part or all of the intended introduction seem inauspicious. If, for example, an audience shows unexpected hostility, he must vary an opening planned for friendly listeners. Or, if he perceives, from vacant faces throughout the crowd, that his listeners are not as well informed as he had supposed, he must simplify his language and amplify his exposition. Again, if he has planned a leisurely or humorous opening and is surprised by an intense body of hearers, he should not hesitate to cut down his prefatory remarks to the barest essentials. In short, the speaker, following the suggestions laid down in this chapter, will plan his introduction to meet conditions so far as he knows them; but he will study his audience from the moment he faces it, and adapt his matter and manner as occasion requires.
THE MEANS OF SUBSTANTIAL DEVELOPMENT
In considering the methods of developing the discussion of a subject one must be guided by the fact that there are many kinds of speeches, aiming at various ends. It is therefore obvious that no one hard and fast plan of procedure for all addresses can be constructed. That would savor too much of the famous Procrustean bed, to which all captives were fitted by either stretching or lopping off their limbs. Our plan of procedure must be more elastic. But at the same time certain general principles of construction can be formulated which will help the speaker to realize the aims previously stated; namely: to emphasize the main theme, to elaborate convincingly and persuasively the leading points which support it, and to keep the sympathies of the audience keen and its interest rising.
In order to effect these purposes, the essential thing which the student of speaking should strive for is clearly defined substance. How frequently at dinners, clubs, churches, gatherings of all sorts,
one hears speakers who are, perhaps, humorous, witty, charming, interesting, but who leave nothing ponderable after the echoes of their voices have died away. If an auditor of one of these speeches is later asked to tell what the speaker said, he can only pause and with some embarrassment reply that it was "something about forestry and rainfall and that sort of thing. Oh, but it was most entertaining." If only momentary entertainment is the aim, of course, all is well. And it is to be emphasized that even in speeches with more serious purpose charm, wit and the like are desirable qualities. But they must not be depended upon for the bulk of such speeches. Let them be called the soul or spirit of a speech, if one pleases, but let us first provide for them a body, a place of habitation. It has often been remarked that "a speaker must have something to say." This very good advice may well be amended to "something to say in a clear and definite form."
A. DETERMINING THE MAIN THEME
In order to give an address this clearly defined substance, the speaker must first determine what the chief purpose of his discourse is to be. In other words, he must establish his "text" or main theme, and not be satisfied to string together random comments on the general subject. If, for
example, his topic is "Socialism," he should decide what impression he wishes to create: that socialism is not a practicable scheme; or that socialism will solve the chief problems of modern society; or that socialism aims to secure the greatest good for the greatest number. I do not mean that every speech is to be constructed along purely argumentative lines. The speaker may at times be required, in all fairness, to present material which makes against his main view; but in any speech the dominant trend should be toward a definite goal. Let us take as another sample topic something entirely foreign to the realm of argument: "The Poetry of Robert Browning." Now, in preparation for an address on this topic it would be most desirable to select what seems to be the most characteristic thing about Browning's poetry and make that the backbone of the discussion. It might be to show the dramatic quality of the work, or Browning's knowledge of human nature. Whatever the general subject of discussion may be, a central theme conduces to clearly defined sub
B. SUPPORTING THE MAIN THEME
Whenever it is possible to establish a leading purpose, the development should consist of definite points supporting that purpose. We may illustrate with the theme idea, "Browning's poetry
shows a wide knowledge of human nature." To give this leading proposition definite support we should develop our discourse around some such distinct phases as follow:
A. Browning knew the depths and shallows of the lover.
B. Browning penetrated the secret thoughts and motives of the criminal.
C. He comprehended the soul qualities of the fanatic.
D. He knew the everyday man of affairs.
E. He understood the merits and the defects of the patriot.
F. He had an appreciative sympathy for the lonely and disheartened.
Similarly, if one were to speak on a topic as remote from Browning's poetry as street-car advertising, he should observe this principle of definitely supporting the leading theme. Suppose the chief purpose of his address was to impress the audience that street-car advertising is a very advantageous form of general appeal. To this end, his elaboration should develop along these lines:
A. Street-car advertising commands attention. B. It arouses interest.
C. It has an enormous circulation.
D. It appeals at advantageous times.
E. It is relatively cheap.