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1924_The Art of Public Speaking

146 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST April 26,1924 Grip Sure Be dead sure of your footing every time! WHEN you wear Grip Sures, you can forget the danger of slips or skids. On hikes or fishing trips, you can clamber over the slippery rocks like a Rocky Mountain sheep. In games, no matter how fast your opponent is, he can't beat those wonderful suction cups that give you a sure grip, the instant your feet strike the ground. Grip Sures not only give speed with safety. They wear like iron, too. From the springy rubber soles to the uppers of strong Top Notch duck, every pair is made by hand to give you your money's worth. Inner soles keep your feet cool and comfortable. Trimmings and ankle patches are full grained cowhide leather double stitched. Be sure you see the Top Notch Cross on the soles and ankle patches. This is the mark of genuine Grip Sures with the patented Suction Cup Soles. BEACON FALLS RUBBER SHOE COMPANY Makers of Top Notch Rubber Footwear Beacon Falls, Connecticut, U. S. A. 11100 TRADE REG. U. S. MARK Ir. THE AI T OFPU E ICING (Continued from Page 4) Our campaign practices and the campaign requirements of party committees would do much harm in this respect if the public were not aware that fulsome praise of party candidates and prominent officials is purely conventional—a mere form of politeness, like "Good morning" or "How well you look." Still, the custom of delivering apostrophes to those in exalted positions or to heads of party tickets, regardless of the merits or deserts of the persons thus verbally exalted, cannot be justified on any sensible or moral ground, and ought to be abandoned. The practice in high schools and colleges of appointing debating teams to support or oppose propositions regardless of what the debaters believe, is questionable—indeed, bad, I think. It merely teaches intellectual dexterity while inducing moral indifference. Might it not be better to let students study the subject and select the side they believe to be right and sound? Is it not risky to ignore the ethical? I would even carry this idea into the practice of the law. Of course it is hard to answer Lord Brougham's argument for the contrary—that every man is entitled to his day in court, has a right to be heard, and that the lawyer is only his mouthpiece. Perhaps the syllogism of that great English advocate cannot be overthrown as a matter of sheer logic. None the less, all things considered, is it not better for an attorney to tell a client frankly that he is in the wrong, and refuse to take his case if he insists upon litigation? At least I found that such a course worked well. Being absolutely certain—and your heart and conscience will tell you—that you really have something to say to the public and that you must, positively must, tell your fellow citizens of the faith that is in you and the reasons therefor, next in order comes preparation. This is vital. First, last and above all else, the public speaker is a teacher. The man or woman who presumes to talk to an audience should know more about the subject discussed than anybody and everybody in that audience. Otherwise, why speak at all? How dismal an uninformed speech! When coupled with sincerity, how pitiable! And how poisonous! For that very ingenuousness often causes the hearers to believe, for the time being, that the speaker knows what he is talking about. When Ignorance is Dangerous Sincere ignorance is dangerous, until the public learns that the speaker is not well posted. All of us know of persons who are fervently honest and really eloquent so far as word arrangement and pleasing delivery go, but who have ceased to carry great weight with the public because, obviously, they have not broadly and deeply studied the subjects under public discussion. But until the people realize how uninformed and untrustworthy such persons are, they can do much harm. Sometimes ignorance is very funny when displayed in a public address. In the early '90's there flourished in a certain county of our land a lawyer who all agreed was a "powerful pleader" before juries. Also he was the outstanding stump speaker for his party—as a rabble rouser nobody could equal him. Attacking the presidential candidate of the opposing party but wanting to be perfectly fair, he exclaimed, "Fur be it from me, feller citizuns, to pluck a feather from his brow or a laurel frcm his shoulder!" In 1896 I heard the same kind of speaker when making an impassioned appeal for free silver, give this example of the virtues of that fiscal policy: "Take France !"— pronounced with a flat a—" France! That beautiful island of the sea!" (Great applause.) Even now in political campaigns we sometimes hear statements no less inaccurate and foolish. But this aside, the speaker must master his subject. That means that all facts must be collected, arranged, studied, digested— not only data on one side but material on the other side and on every side, all of it. And be sure they are facts, not mere assumptions or unproved assertions. Take nothing for granted. Therefore check up and reverify every item. This means painstaking research, to be sure, but what of it? Are you not proposing to inform, instruct and advise your fellow citizens? Are you not setting yourself up as a teacher and counselor of the public? Having assembled and marshaled the facts of any problem, think out for yourself the solution those facts compel. Thus your speech will have originality and personal force—it will be vital and compelling. There will be you in it. Then write out your ideas as clearly and logically as you can. Until this point in your preparation is reached, do not read what others have written or said on the same thesis. If you do, it is likely that you will adopt their thought—indeed, this is almost certain unless you are blessed with an uncommonly strong, inquiring and independent mind, or cursed with an exceptionally stubborn, obstinate and contentious mind. But after the processes mentioned, nothing can be more helpful than to read everything on the subject that you can get hold of. Indeed, such comprehensive reading is invaluable. It is the best way to correct errors. Also, of course, you must know what are the arguments of those who do not agree with you. Besides, you may find that you are wholly wrong; in fact you may learn that what you have believed to be a new idea that will compose all troubles and save the world, was exploded a thousand years before the time of Abraham. Clearness and Conciseness The speech must now be rewritten—and then done over again, the oftener the better. The purpose of rewriting is to remove obscurities and ambiguities—in short, to make every statement logical and clear. It is said that throughout his life Lincoln would rewrite many times any proposition about which he was thinking, in order to reduce the statement of that proposition to its simplest terms. And condense, condense, condense. It is surprising how much can be cut out which at first seems to be indispensable. These superfluities add nothing to the argument and merely confuse the hearer. Bear in mind and apply to public speaking the meaning of the great Von Moltke's final instructions to his officers at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War: "Remember, gentlemen, that any order which can be misunderstood, will be misunderstood." In order to be lucid study words—make that your hobby. You will find such study as engaging as it is useful. Though an old book and one dealing with a comparatively few words, Crabb's Synonymes is invaluable, because of the little essays about words, which essays are as charming as they are accurate. Other volumes in the same line will also be helpful. The point to such research is to learn the exact shadings of the meaning of words, to the end of making yourself understood. As everybody knows, many disputes arise from disagreements over the definition of terms employed in business contracts, political platforms, sectarian creeds and the language of official personages. Also ample knowledge of words does not increase, but decreases the vocabulary used by the public speaker, because words are thus well chosen and only for their effectiveness. The final item of preparation is the submission of the finished manuscript to several friends for criticism and suggestion. Ask them to point out errors in statement of fact and weaknesses in reasoning. These critics should be of varied occupations and interests—an up-to-date business man, a labor leader or any informed workingman, a local politician, a well-posted woman, a high-school student, a sound scholar. Their comment is invaluable. Moreover, in this way are secured the views of a cross section of the general public. At last comes the ultimate revision, tightening loose bolts, strengthening feeble places in argument, reenforcing statements of fact, making clearer points which some critic thinks obscure, and the like. Preparation thus finished, put aside your manuscript and make your speech. Do not try to commit it to memory, unless it is to be delivered on a very important occasion and it is vital that the speech shall be reported accurately. Some persons have a curious faculty for remembering the written word, and it is


1924_The Art of Public Speaking
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