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Notes from the book - The Art of Public Speaking

Chapter 1: Becoming a skilled speech-giver is a matter of practice, and stage fright can be conquered. Source

  • Well, mastering the art of public speaking is much like learning to swim. Giving speeches is the only way to become a skilled orator.
  • isn’t a matter of becoming fearless; it’s a matter of mastering your fear
  • letting yourself be absorbed by the subject of your speech
    • Subordinate yourself to the content of your speech, and all undue concerns about self-presentation will vanish.
  • important to have something to say
  • advises memorizing at least the first few sentences of your speech
  • after preparing for success, expect it

Chapter 2: Use emphasis to vanquish monotony. Source

  • monotony is the enemy
  • first key (pun intended) to a dynamic speech is emphasis
  • comparing and contrasting your speech’s central ideas
  • stress important words
  • example: “Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice.”
    • “destiny” - since it’s the subject
    • “not” - to emphasize the negation
    • “chance” - to juxtapose it with the next sentence’s central word, “choice.”
  • changing your pace and pausing
  • pause directly before, or right after, a significant word or phrase
  • could rush through the first, less important part of a sentence and then slowly enunciate the crucial, concluding words.

Chapter 3: An ability to arouse emotion in your listeners is the fulcrum of public speaking. Source

  • they possessed something that neither study nor practice can bestow: the force of feeling.
  • Arousing the feelings of your listeners, if only for a moment, will do more to win them over than hours of ingenious, rational argument.
  • how can you infuse your speeches with feeling?
  • Whenever you give a speech, you must fully enter into its subject.
  • If you’re able to transform yourself into your subject, then you’ll be sure to inspire both interest and emotion in your listeners.

Chapter 4: Gestures can be learned, but they must spring from real feeling. Source

  • your movements and gesticulations must emanate from the real emotions you experience when occupying your speech’s subject
  • must be the spontaneous outgrowth of true feeling
  • prepare for each speech by watching yourself in a mirror.
  • Gesticulation is like pronunciation. The more you practice it, the less you’ll have to think about it. Practice, practice, practice

Chapter 5: A good voice requires good health. Source

  • Good lungs are crucial to a resonant, powerful voice.
  • lung capacity isn’t the only criterion for a strong voice. Relaxation is equally important
  • To increase your throat’s openness, pretend that you’re yawning.
  • instead of concluding the yawn, try to speak. This should result in increased volume and richness of tone.
  • place your voice correctly. The way to do this is to pitch it forward.
  • Practice this by holding your hand before your face and forcefully saying words such as “crash,” “dash,” “whirl” and “buzz.” Do this until you can literally feel the tones hitting your hand.

Chapter 6: Arrange your audience to increase the influence of your speech. Source

  • A crowd is nothing but a peaceful mob - prone to “think by infection.”
  • unite individual listeners by rallying them around common concerns.
  • Once they individually perceive that their preoccupations are shared by their fellow audience members, they’ll congeal into a crowd.

Chapter 7: Strengthen your power of argumentation by testing your arguments. Source

  • If you wish to be an effective speaker, you must be capable of both building arguments and tearing them down.
  • Every argument has four parts:
    • the question under discussion,
    • the evidence,
    • the reasoning and
    • inferences.

For Question under discussion

  • Ask whether it’s stated in clear terms - ensuring that all of the keywords mean the same thing to each disputant
  • Ask whether it’s stated fairly.

For the evidence of the argument

  • Which experts are being cited? Are they impartial? What makes them an expert? Are their opinions clear, reliable and unbiased?
  • Which facts are being mentioned? Are there enough? Do they support or contradict one another? Are they confirmed or debatable?

For the reasoning

  • Ask whether the facts presented might support a different conclusion than that being offered.
  • Ask whether all counterarguments have been shown to be relatively weak.

for inferences

  • Are you guilty of non sequitur – that is, offering an argumentative conclusion that doesn’t follow from the evidence?
  • Do all your pieces of evidence harmonize with each other?

  • Direct them at your opponents’ arguments, too

Chapter 8: Use the imagination to your public-speaking advantage. Source

  • harness the power of the imagination before you approach the public-speaking platform
  • employ figurative language
    • inflame your listeners’ imaginations with a story.
    • Example: Instead of facts about alcoholism, weave a tale of a drunkard returning from his weekend binge, yelling at his wife and hitting his children.
  • stick with them in a way that cold numbers and bland generalizations simply won’t.
  • image the speech you’re about to give.
    • create mental images of how that speech will go
    • “imaging” your audience
    • Imagine the crowd you’re going to speak to, as well as their reactions, both positive and negative.

Chapter 9: Final summary Source

  • Build your vocabulary.
  • Your speeches will be considerably more effective if you have a large vocabulary.
  • if you truly want to broaden your vocab, you must use new words.
  • note down some unfamiliar words


  • MOC Presentation and Public speaking
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