Imágenes de páginas

Laziness is absolutely inadmissible in the lexicon of the public speaker. If he knows his subjectmatter, well and good; if not, he must get it. As for borrowing, or, better, stealing from fellowspeakers on a program, the result can hardly be expected to be other than a thing of shreds and patches. Ignorance of how to prepare properly is a really excusable cause for dread of speaking in public and will require careful consideration in a later chapter.


In the foregoing pages we have noted that the majority of people dread to speak in public. This feeling is partly due to an expectation of "stagefright," which can be largely overcome by not brooding over the supposedly terrifying occasion; by realizing that an audience is ordinarily composed of sympathetic and well-disposed persons; and by a summoning of courage for the first few attempts, which serve to accustom a speaker to the situation. Another cause of dread, a faulty idea of the speaker's task, is removed when the speaker realizes that he is not expected, nor desired, to follow the style of the masters of oratory, but merely to talk in a straightforward and interesting conversational manner. The last and most important source of dread is obviated by avoiding poor preparation, which is usually due

to laziness, dependence upon inspiration or borrowing, or ignorance of how to prepare. Before considering the specific steps which are to be taken in preparing for an address it is desirable to get a thorough understanding of the purposes and methods which constitute the foundation of speech making.




The person who wishes to acquit himself creditably and to influence his hearers in modern speaking, whether for social, professional or business reasons, may not be particularly interested in the names which the Greeks and Romans gave to their divisions of an oration. And it does seem rather immaterial except for historical purposes. It is, however, desirable to know what successful speakers of to-day aim to do in beginning an address, in developing it, and closing it. Furthermore, it will be helpful to determine, as far as possible, what means they use to realize their aims. With these ends in view we shall, for convenience in discussion, divide the speech into the well-known introduction, development or body and conclusion.


I. Gaining the Attention

The average audience to which a speaker addresses himself has many and varied interests

as it awaits the opening words. A sick child, a falling stock-market, an impending lawsuit, an acrobatic fly on a bald head in the next row—any number of things have already set up counterattractions before the speaker begins. With his opening words the speaker interrupts the progress of these various contemplations, and in the usual settling that heralds the salutation he has the momentary attention of the audience by virtue of the situation itself. The dullest speaker imaginable will get the advantage of this sudden interruption of the various trains of thought. A preoccupied pedestrian is likely to glance upward when a shadow crosses his path. Seeing only a crow he will instantly revert to his interrupted thoughts, but if he sees an aeroplane his attention is arrested. Similarly, the critical moment in the opening of a speech is not at the outset, but immediately afterward. It is even possible that the first three or four sentences may not be distinctly heard amid the rustle of the settling process. But these opening sentences should, of course, be in preparation for that critical moment at which the attention must be arrested.

II. Arousing the Interest

Having caught the attention, the speaker next aims to arouse the interest of the audience before

attention lapses. When the above-mentioned

pedestrian looks up to see what caused the shadow on the path, his train of thought is not dismissed; it is only interrupted. If the object does not interest him, his mind will revert to its former occupation or will be attracted by some new suggestion. So, when the speaker has gained the attention he must not allow it to relax, but must proceed at once to arouse an interest which displaces all other claims.

III. Presenting the Main Theme

With attention gained and interest aroused, the speaker's next purpose is to present the topic idea in such a way that the listeners will be prepared to understand the succeeding discussion and be favorably impressed with the speaker personally, his attitude toward his subject, and his attitude toward his audience.

IV. Transition to the Development

At this point comes the transition from the introduction to the development of the topic. Brevity is desirable here, and not the circumlocution, the backing and filling, the apparently aloof manner with which some speakers approach the substantial part of their discourse. This shying at the barrier is sometimes due to mere loquacity or ill-timed affection for anecdotes; sometimes to a lack of knowing what point to begin with;

« AnteriorContinuar »