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1924_The Art of Public Speaking

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We have opportunities in our organization for more men like him. Read the following. Do you want $200 a week? W. S. Cooper easier for them to do so than to speak extemporaneously. It is said that Roscoe Conkling could repeat his manuscript verbatim after having read it but once or twice; and Emory A. Storrs was able, so it is reported, to reproduce a speech just as he had written it without reading it over again. But such letter-perfect delivery is possible only to those of abnormal memories. Moreover, it is not desirable—it makes the speech rigid, whereas it ought to be flexible. The commanding reason for such thorough preparation is that the speaker shall become the master of his subject. Indeed, he should be able to answer almost any question that a hearer may ask him. It is, in fact, a good plan for the speaker early in his address to request anybody in the audience to rise and ask questions about matters not clear to the inquirer, provided the information is sought at the time the speaker is discussing that particular sub- ject. The answer should be given clearly and in good temper, and the questioner asked, in turn, whether he is satisfied. Have no fear that partisan opponents or contentious persons will make trick queries or impertinent interruptions for the purpose of confusing or embarrassing the speaker; that seldom happens, and when it does, the audience instantly detects it and takes care of the situation. There is nothing finer than the sense of fair play which animates an American audience when it feels that a speaker is sincere and informed and trying only to help the hearers to right conclusions. So keep in good humor, let nothing irritate you, de- pend upon the instinct, justice and appreciation of your hearers. Targets for Eloquence The extensive preparation described is, of course, not necessary when you are already well informed on the subject to be discussed. Take a lawyer who has made a specialty of some particular branch of his profession, or a business man who knows his line from top to bottom, or a scientist with broad and exact information, or a preacher who keeps abreast of the times— such men have been preparing all their lives to speak informingly. Yet even they need to freshen themselves somewhat before undertaking to instruct their fellow citi- zens. The speech well in hand as to facts and argument, the manuscript out of mind— after all, the manuscript is only one stage in the process of producing the speech—the speaker takes the platform. Here comes the next rule, which, indeed, must be followed from first to last; but which can be stated more effectively at this point, per- haps, rather than earlier in the article. Make every sentence so plain that the dullest or most uninformed person in the audience cannot fail to understand the meaning of what is said. Have constantly in mind Von Moltke's dictum that whatever can be misunderstood will be misunderstood. So use the simplest words that can express your thought, and put them in such order that they do express your thought. It is a good practice to pick out the least intelligent looking person in the audience and strive to make that person interested in your argument. This can be done only by lucid statement of fact and clear reasoning. An even better method is, center your talk on some small boy or girl present with parents. Say to yourself—say out loud to your audience, if you like—that you will try to be so plain that the child will understand and remember your explanation of the question discussed and after the meeting be able to tell what you have said. This means, of course, that big or uncom- mon words must be avoided. Beware of adjectives—they are dangerous stimulants, to be used sparingly and with caution. Refrain from what is called rhetoric. Shun the ornate. Never try to be eloquent. Eloquence is the natural product of full knowledge, simple statement, deep feeling and ripe occasion—it comes spontaneously and is not to be manufactured, like a hat or a shovel. Too much emphasis cannot be put upon this rule of clearness, since if you are not understood or are misunderstood the purpose of the speech has failed; better not to have spoken at all. And, of course, you cannot expect others to get your meaning if you are not sure of it yourself. This takes us back to preparation, the completeness of which is basic. But in the effort to be clear and plain, do not try to talk down to your audience. That is fatal. The loftiest theme can be treated best in simplest terms. Take, for example, the Sermon on the Mount or, indeed, any of the teachings of Jesus, who, considered exclusively from the human point of view, was the supreme master of the art of public address. Or take Paul's speech to the Athenians on Mars' Hill, the finest example of oratory ever delivered by mortal man; or, not far below Paul's masterpiece, that of Lincoln at Gettysburg. All these sermons and speeches were exalted, yet all of them were in the language of the common people. So pitch your speech on the highest plane. The heart and mind of the humblest man yearn for better and nobler things, and the mass instinct and intellect tend upward. After a notable success at a big meeting in one of our great cities the speaker was asked whether he made that kind of speech to country gatherings. "I try to make a better one," he answered. But are you not afraid you will talk over the heads of your audience?" "No," said he. "I have spoken at crossroads, in barns and blacksmith shops, and never yet have I faced an American audience that I felt that I could talk up to— that is, the audience always has impressed me as really wanting something higher and finer than I am able to give them." To the supreme end of being understood, stick to the subject. Do not go off on side issues. Digression is perilous. It distracts attention, which is hard to recover and sometimes never is recovered. Side remarks may be diverting, but are obstacles in the current of the argument. Unless you are naturally witty and have a gift for story-telling, do not try to be funny or to tell an anecdote. Few things are more distressing and even painful than such attempts at humor by one who cannot carry it off well. Even those who have that entertaining faculty should employ it rarely and with discretion. Misplaced Humor Long ago in a state in the Mississippi Valley a leading lawyer was also our Republican "keynoter" at the beginning of campaigns. He was very able, loved statistics and was a master of logic. His one defect was that he had no more humor than a stone. To remedy this, friends urged that he tell some funny stories. He grumbled, but agreed at last. However, he knew no such stories. So we collected several for him. Then came the big meeting where, during his speech, he was to tell them. It was held in the courthouse yard of a county seat. It was an old-fashioned political rally, and the paramount issue was the tariff. Thousands attended, nearly all farmers. Our hero poured figures and argument upon his audience for an hour or two, forgetting entirely his stories. At last a friend pulled his coattails and reminded him of his neglected humor. "Oh, yes," said he; and turning to the crowd, remarked with a grimace meant to be a pleasant smile, but more expressive of disgust, "Now, ladies and gentlemen, I will tell you some funny stories which my friends have collected for me." And he told them; for half an hour he told them, one after another. Not a laugh from the assembled multitude, not a smile. It was ghastly. Having finished, he laid down his notes— he could not remember the stories without notes—and, with a sigh of relief, said: "Now, ladies and gentlemen, I'll go on with my argument. As I was saying when I had to stop and tell those darned stories " The audience, with open mouths, wondered what it had all been about. Thereafter nobody ever made mention to that great lawyer of the circumstance or asked him to tell a story or make a joke. The late Jonathan P. Dolliver, a most captivating speaker and powerful debater, was so prolific in genuine fun that he kept vigilant watch over himself in this regard; only a very few of the enchanting drolleries that bubbled from him in private conversation ever got into his public utterances. These few are famous, such, for example, as his one-line description of the ineptitude Right now, today, I offer you an opportunity to be your own boss—to work just as many hours a day as you please—to start when you want to and quit when you want to—and earn $200 a week. These Are Facts Does that sound too good to be true? If it does, then let me tell you about W. S. Cooper, of Ohio, who was making only $3 a day. He accepted my offer. I gave him the same chance I am offering you. Now he makes as high as $700 a month and works only about five hours a day. You can do every bit as well as he did. If that isn't enough, then let me tell you about E. A. Sweet, of Michigan. He was an electrical engineer and didn't know anything about selling. In his first month's spare time he earned $243. Inside of six months he was making between $600 and $1,200 a month. J. R. Head, of Kansas, lives in a small town of 631 population. He was sick, broke, out of a job. He accepted my offer. At this new work he has made as high as $69.50 in one day. W. J. McCrary is another man I want to tell you about. His regular job paid him $2 a day, but this wonderful new work has enabled him to make $9,000 a year. Yes, and right this very minute you are being offered the same proposition that has made these men so successful. Do you want it? Do you want to earn $40 a day? A Clean, High-grade Dignified Business Have vou ever heard of Corner All-Weather Coats? They are advertised in all the leading magazines. 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Maybe You Are Worth $1,000 A Month Well, here is your chance to find out, for this is the same proposition that enabled George Garon to make a clear profit of $40 in his first day's work—the same proposition that gave R. W. Kreiger $20 net profit in a half hour. It is the same opportunity that gave A. B. Spencer $625 cash for one month's spare time. If you mail the coupon at the bottom of this ad I will show you the easiest, quickest, simplest plan for making money that you ever heard of. If you are interested in a chance to earn $200 a week and can devote all your time or only an hour or so a day to my proposition, write your name down below, cut out the coupon and mail it to me at once. You take no risk, and this may be the one outstanding opportunity of your life to earn more money than you ever thought possible. Find Out NOW! Remember, it doesn't cost you a penny. You don't agree to anything and you will have a chance to go right out and make big money. Do it. Don't wait. Get full details. Mail the coupon now. C. E. COMER, THE COMER N1FC. Co. Dept. B-612, Dayton, Ohio The Corner Mfg. Co. Dept. B-612, Dayton, Ohio Please tell me how I can make $200 a week as your representative. Send me complete details of your offer without any obligation to me whatsoever. Name Address L (Print or write plainly)


1924_The Art of Public Speaking
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