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The Art of Public Speaking

CHAPTER XVII
98
prove will get you nowhere. Approach each subject with an open mind and--once sure that you have thought it
out thoroughly and honestly--have the courage to abide by the decision of your own thought. But don't brag
about it afterward.
No book on public speaking will enable you to discourse on the tariff if you know nothing about the tariff.
Knowing more about it than the other man will be your only hope for making the other man listen to you.
Take a group of men discussing a governmental policy of which some one says: "It is socialistic." That will
commend the policy to Mr. A., who believes in socialism, but condemn it to Mr. B., who does not. It may be
that neither had considered the policy beyond noticing that its surface-color was socialistic. The chances are,
furthermore, that neither Mr. A. nor Mr. B. has a definite idea of what socialism really is, for as Robert Louis
Stevenson says, "Man lives not by bread alone but chiefly by catch words." If you are of this group of men,
and have observed this proposed government policy, and investigated it, and thought about it, what you have
to say cannot fail to command their respect and approval, for you will have shown them that you possess a
grasp of your subject and--to adopt an exceedingly expressive bit of slang--then some.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. Robert Houdin trained his son to give one swift glance at a shop window in passing and be able to report
accurately a surprising number of its contents. Try this several times on different windows and report the
result.
2. What effect does reserve power have on an audience?
3. What are the best methods for acquiring reserve power?
4. What is the danger of too much reading?
5. Analyze some speech that you have read or heard and notice how much real information there is in it.
Compare it with Dr. Hillis's speech on "Brave Little Belgium," page 394.
6. Write out a three-minute speech on any subject you choose. How much information, and what new ideas,
does it contain? Compare your speech with the extract on page 191 from Dr. Hillis's "The Uses of Books and
Reading."
7. Have you ever read a book on the practise of thinking? If so, give your impressions of its value.
NOTE: There are a number of excellent books on the subject of thought and the management of thought. The
following are recommended as being especially helpful: "Thinking and Learning to Think," Nathan C.
Schaeffer; "Talks to Students on the Art of Study," Cramer; "As a Man Thinketh," Allen.
8. Define (a) logic; (b) mental philosophy (or mental science); (c) psychology; (d) abstract.
FOOTNOTES:
[Footnote 8: How to Attract and Hold an Audience, J. Berg Esenwein.]
[Footnote 9: Used by permission.]
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