Public Speaking Tips from Renowned Historical Figures
Dale Carnegie said, "There are always three speeches for every one you actually gave: the one you practiced, the one you gave and the one you wish you gave." The art of public speaking has had many practitioners, but the roster of historical speakers holds a few maestros who brought the art to a peak.
Preparation Is Essential
Mark Twain, the famed writer and raconteur, said in a speech, "... I never was happy, never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it."
As paradoxical as it may sound, even free-form speeches work best with extensive notes. The tendency to ramble, or enter the blank space, and the invisible pressure of an audience has an underestimated power to frighten away fragile intentions. A body of well-organized notes will serve as a sheepdog for ideas, keeping essential elements from being lost in unexpected thickets of words.
Know the Topic
Bishop Alexander Gregg, the prominent Episcopalian clergyman, said, "There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience."
Familiarity with the topic is vital for a speaker who wants the expected audience to understand and appreciate the speech. It's all too easy to look like an self-important idiot whose words are barely better than those from a grade-school student stumbling into the glimmerings of comprehension. An effective public speaker will triple-check the facts and have a neutral listener point out awkward phrasing that unintentionally leads the audience astray.
A full comprehension of the topic will almost make the words write themselves. This straightforward concept goes back endless centuries. Cato the Elder, the ancient Roman statesman, said, "Grasp the subject; the words will follow."
Know the Audience
Lilly Walters said, "The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives."