The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie - HTML preview
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(a) Set the image of your audience before you while you prepare. Disappointment may lurk here, and you cannot be forearmed for every emergency, but in the main you must meet your audience before you actually do--image its probable mood and attitude toward the occasion, the theme, and the speaker.
(b) Conceive your speech as a whole while you are preparing its parts, else can you not see--image--how its parts shall be fitly framed together.
(c) Image the language you will use, so far as written or extemporaneous speech may dictate. The habit of imaging will give you choice of varied figures of speech, for remember that an address without fresh CHAPTER XXVI
comparisons is like a garden without blooms. Do not be content with the first hackneyed figure that comes flowing to your pen-point, but dream on until the striking, the unusual, yet the vividly real comparison points your thought like steel does the arrow-tip.
Note the freshness and effectiveness of the following description from the opening of O. Henry's story, "The Harbinger."
Long before the springtide is felt in the dull bosom of the yokel does the city man know that the grass-green goddess is upon her throne. He sits at his breakfast eggs and toast, begirt by stone walls, opens his morning paper and sees journalism leave vernalism at the post.
For whereas Spring's couriers were once the evidence of our finer senses, now the Associated Press does the trick.
The warble of the first robin in Hackensack, the stirring of the maple sap in Bennington, the budding of the pussy willows along the main street in Syracuse, the first chirp of the blue bird, the swan song of the blue point, the annual tornado in St. Louis, the plaint of the peach pessimist from Pompton, N.J., the regular visit of the tame wild goose with a broken leg to the pond near Bilgewater Junction, the base attempt of the Drug Trust to boost the price of quinine foiled in the House by Congressman Jinks, the first tall poplar struck by lightning and the usual stunned picknickers who had taken refuge, the first crack of the ice jamb in the Allegheny River, the finding of a violet in its mossy bed by the correspondent at Round Corners--these are the advanced signs of the burgeoning season that are wired into the wise city, while the farmer sees nothing but winter upon his dreary fields.
But these be mere externals. The true harbinger is the heart. When Strephon seeks his Chloe and Mike his Maggie, then only is Spring arrived and the newspaper report of the five foot rattler killed in Squire Pettregrew's pasture confirmed.
A hackneyed writer would probably have said that the newspaper told the city man about spring before the farmer could see any evidence of it, but that the real harbinger of spring was love and that "In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love."
2. Imaging in Speech-Delivery
When once the passion of speech is on you and you are "warmed up"--perhaps by striking till the iron is hot so that you may not fail to strike when it is hot--your mood will be one of vision.
Then (a) Re-image past emotion--of which more elsewhere. The actor re-calls the old feelings every time he renders his telling lines.
(b) Reconstruct in image the scenes you are to describe.
(c) Image the objects in nature whose tone you are delineating, so that bearing and voice and movement (gesture) will picture forth the whole convincingly. Instead of merely stating the fact that whiskey ruins homes, the temperance speaker paints a drunkard coming home to abuse his wife and strike his children. It is much more effective than telling the truth in abstract terms. To depict the cruelness of war, do not assert the fact abstractly--"War is cruel." Show the soldier, an arm swept away by a bursting shell, lying on the battlefield pleading for water; show the children with tear-stained faces pressed against the window pane praying for their dead father to return. Avoid general and prosaic terms. Paint pictures. Evolve images for the imagination of your audience to construct into pictures of their own.
III. HOW TO ACQUIRE THE IMAGING HABIT
You remember the American statesman who asserted that "the way to resume is to resume"? The application is obvious. Beginning with the first simple analyses of this chapter, test your own qualities of image-making.
One by one practise the several kinds of images; then add--even invent--others in combination, for many images come to us in complex form, like the combined noise and shoving and hot odor of a cheering crowd.
After practising on reproductive imaging, turn to the productive, beginning with the reproductive and adding productive features for the sake of cultivating invention.
Frequently, allow your originating gifts full swing by weaving complete imaginary fabrics--sights, sounds, scenes; all the fine world of fantasy lies open to the journeyings of your winged steed.
In like manner train yourself in the use of figurative language. Learn first to distinguish and then to use its varied forms. When used with restraint, nothing can be more effective than the trope; but once let extravagance creep in by the window, and power will flee by the door.
All in all, master your images--let not them master you.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. Give original examples of each kind of reproductive imagination.
2. Build two of these into imaginary incidents for platform use, using your productive, or creative, imagination.
3. Define ( a) phantasy; ( b) vision; ( c) fantastic; ( d) phantasmagoria; ( e) transmogrify; ( f) recollection.
4. What is a "figure of speech"?
5. Define and give two examples of each of the following figures of speech. At least one of the examples under each type would better be original. ( a) simile; ( b) metaphor; ( c) metonymy; ( d) synecdoche; ( e) apostrophe; ( f) vision; ( g) personification; ( h) hyperbole; ( i) irony.
6. ( a) What is an allegory? ( b) Name one example. ( c) How could a short allegory be used as part of a public address?
7. Write a short fable for use in a speech. Follow either the ancient form (Æsop) or the modern (George Ade, Josephine Dodge Daskam).
8. What do you understand by "the historical present?" Illustrate how it may be used ( ONLY occasionally) in a public address.
9. Recall some disturbance on the street, ( a) Describe it as you would on the platform; ( b) imagine what preceded the disturbance; ( c) imagine what followed it; ( d) connect the whole in a terse, dramatic narration for the platform and deliver it with careful attention to all that you have learned of the public speaker's art.
10. Do the same with other incidents you have seen or heard of, or read of in the newspapers.
NOTE: It is hoped that this exercise will be varied and expanded until the pupil has gained considerable mastery of imaginative narration. (See chapter on "Narration.") 11. Experiments have proved that the majority of people think most vividly in terms of visual images.
However, some think more readily in terms of auditory and motor images. It is a good plan to mix all kinds of CHAPTER XXVI
images in the course of your address for you will doubtless have all kinds of hearers. This plan will serve to give variety and strengthen your effects by appealing to the several senses of each hearer, as well as interesting many different auditors. For exercise, ( a) give several original examples of compound images, and ( b) construct brief descriptions of the scenes imagined. For example, the falling of a bridge in process of building.
12. Read the following observantly:
The strikers suffered bitter poverty last winter in New York.
Last winter a woman visiting the East Side of New York City saw another woman coming out of a tenement house wringing her hands. Upon inquiry the visitor found that a child had fainted in one of the apartments.
She entered, and saw the child ill and in rags, while the father, a striker, was too poor to provide medical help.
A physician was called and said the child had fainted from lack of food. The only food in the home was dried fish. The visitor provided groceries for the family and ordered the milkman to leave milk for them daily. A month later she returned. The father of the family knelt down before her, and calling her an angel said that she had saved their lives, for the milk she had provided was all the food they had had.
In the two preceding paragraphs we have substantially the same story, told twice. In the first paragraph we have a fact stated in general terms. In the second, we have an outline picture of a specific happening. Now expand this outline into a dramatic recital, drawing freely upon your imagination.
[Footnote 29: Inquiries into Human Faculty.]
[Footnote 30: Consult any good rhetoric. An unabridged dictionary will also be of help.]
[Footnote 31: For a full discussion of the form see, The Art of Story-Writing, by J. Berg Esenwein and Mary D. Chambers.]
GROWING A VOCABULARY
Boys flying kites haul in their white winged birds; You can't do that way when you're flying words. "Careful with fire," is good advice we know, "Careful with words," is ten times doubly so. Thoughts unexpressed many sometimes fall back dead; But God Himself can't kill them when they're said.
--WILL CARLETON, The First Settler's Story.
The term "vocabulary" has a special as well as a general meaning. True, all vocabularies are grounded in the everyday words of the language, out of which grow the special vocabularies, but each such specialized group possesses a number of words of peculiar value for its own objects. These words may be used in other vocabularies also, but the fact that they are suited to a unique order of expression marks them as of special value to a particular craft or calling.
In this respect the public speaker differs not at all from the poet, the novelist, the scientist, the traveler. He must add to his everyday stock, words of value for the public presentation of thought. "A study of the discourses of effective orators discloses the fact that they have a fondness for words signifying power, largeness, speed, action, color, light, and all their opposites. They frequently employ words expressive of the various emotions. Descriptive words, adjectives used in fresh relations with nouns, and apt epithets, are freely employed. Indeed, the nature of public speech permits the use of mildly exaggerated words which, by the time they have reached the hearer's judgment, will leave only a just impression."
Form the Book-Note Habit
To possess a word involves three things: To know its special and broader meanings, to know its relation to other words, and to be able to use it. When you see or hear a familiar word used in an unfamiliar sense, jot it down, look it up, and master it. We have in mind a speaker of superior attainments who acquired his vocabulary by noting all new words he heard or read. These he mastered and put into use. Soon his vocabulary became large, varied, and exact. Use a new word accurately five times and it is yours. Professor Albert E. Hancock says: "An author's vocabulary is of two kinds, latent and dynamic: latent--those words he understands; dynamic--those he can readily use. Every intelligent man knows all the words he needs, but he may not have them all ready for active service. The problem of literary diction consists in turning the latent into the dynamic." Your dynamic vocabulary is the one you must especially cultivate.
In his essay on "A College Magazine" in the volume, Memories and Portraits, Stevenson shows how he rose from imitation to originality in the use of words. He had particular reference to the formation of his literary style, but words are the raw materials of style, and his excellent example may well be followed judiciously by the public speaker. Words in their relations are vastly more important than words considered singly.
Whenever I read a book or a passage that particularly pleased me, in which a thing was said or an effect rendered with propriety, in which there was either some conspicuous force or some happy distinction in the style, I must sit down at once and set myself to ape that quality. I was unsuccessful, and I knew it; and tried again, and was again unsuccessful, and always unsuccessful; but at least in these vain bouts I got some practice in rhythm, in harmony, in construction and coördination of parts.
I have thus played the sedulous ape to Hazlitt, to Lamb, to Wordsworth, to Sir Thomas Browne, to Defoe, to Hawthorne, to Montaigne.
That, like it or not, is the way to learn to write; whether I have profited or not, that is the way. It was the way Keats learned, and there never was a finer temperament for literature than Keats'.
It is the great point of these imitations that there still shines beyond the student's reach, his inimitable model.
Let him try as he please, he is still sure of failure; and it is an old and very true saying that failure is the only highroad to success.
Form the Reference-Book Habit
Do not be content with your general knowledge of a word--press your study until you have mastered its individual shades of meaning and usage. Mere fluency is sure to become despicable, but accuracy never. The dictionary contains the crystallized usage of intellectual giants. No one who would write effectively dare despise its definitions and discriminations. Think, for example, of the different meanings of mantle, or model, or quantity. Any late edition of an unabridged dictionary is good, and is worth making sacrifices to own.
Books of synonyms and antonyms--used cautiously, for there are few perfect synonyms in any language--will be found of great help. Consider the shades of meanings among such word-groups as thief, peculator, defaulter, embezzler, burglar, yeggman, robber, bandit, marauder, pirate, and many more; or the distinctions among Hebrew, Jew, Israelite, and Semite. Remember that no book of synonyms is trustworthy unless used with a dictionary. "A Thesaurus of the English Language," by Dr. Francis A. March, is expensive, but full and authoritative. Of smaller books of synonyms and antonyms there are plenty.
Study the connectives of English speech. Fernald's book on this title is a mine of gems. Unsuspected pitfalls lie in the loose use of and, or, for, while, and a score of tricky little connectives.
Word derivations are rich in suggestiveness. Our English owes so much to foreign tongues and has changed so much with the centuries that whole addresses may grow out of a single root-idea hidden away in an ancient word-origin. Translation, also, is excellent exercise in word-mastery and consorts well with the study of derivations.
Phrase books that show the origins of familiar expressions will surprise most of us by showing how carelessly everyday speech is used. Brewer's "A Dictionary of Phrase, and Fable," Edwards' "Words, Facts, and Phrases," and Thornton's "An American Glossary," are all good--the last, an expensive work in three volumes.
A prefix or a suffix may essentially change the force of the stem, as in master-ful and master-ly, contempt-ible and contempt-uous, envi-ous and envi-able. Thus to study words in groups, according to their stems, prefixes, and suffixes is to gain a mastery over their shades of meaning, and introduce us to other related words.
Do not Favor one Set or Kind of Words more than Another
"Sixty years and more ago, Lord Brougham, addressing the students of the University of Glasgow, laid down the rule that the native (Anglo-Saxon) part of our vocabulary was to be favored at the expense of that other part which has come from the Latin and Greek. The rule was an impossible one, and Lord Brougham himself never tried seriously to observe it; nor, in truth, has any great writer made the attempt. Not only is our language highly composite, but the component words have, in De Quincey's phrase, 'happily coalesced.' It is easy to jest at words in -osity and -ation, as 'dictionary' words, and the like. But even Lord Brougham would have found it difficult to dispense with pomposity and imagination."
The short, vigorous Anglo-Saxon will always be preferred for passages of special thrust and force, just as the Latin will continue to furnish us with flowing and smooth expressions; to mingle all sorts, however, will give variety--and that is most to be desired.
Discuss Words With Those Who Know Them
Since the language of the platform follows closely the diction of everyday speech, many useful words may be CHAPTER XXVII
acquired in conversation with cultivated men, and when such discussion takes the form of disputation as to the meanings and usages of words, it will prove doubly valuable. The development of word-power marches with the growth of individuality.
Search Faithfully for the Right Word
Books of reference are tripled in value when their owner has a passion for getting the kernels out of their shells. Ten minutes a day will do wonders for the nut-cracker. "I am growing so peevish about my writing,"
says Flaubert. "I am like a man whose ear is true, but who plays falsely on the violin: his fingers refuse to reproduce precisely those sounds of which he has the inward sense. Then the tears come rolling down from the poor scraper's eyes and the bow falls from his hand."
The same brilliant Frenchman sent this sound advice to his pupil, Guy de Maupassant: "Whatever may be the thing which one wishes to say, there is but one word for expressing it, only one verb to animate it, only one adjective to qualify it. It is essential to search for this word, for this verb, for this adjective, until they are discovered, and to be satisfied with nothing else."
Walter Savage Landor once wrote: "I hate false words, and seek with care, difficulty, and moroseness those that fit the thing." So did Sentimental Tommy, as related by James M. Barrie in his novel bearing his hero's name as a title. No wonder T. Sandys became an author and a lion!
Tommy, with another lad, is writing an essay on "A Day in Church," in competition for a university scholarship. He gets on finely until he pauses for lack of a word. For nearly an hour he searches for this elusive thing, until suddenly he is told that the allotted time is up, and he has lost! Barrie may tell the rest: Essay! It was no more an essay than a twig is a tree, for the gowk had stuck in the middle of his second page.
Yes, stuck is the right expression, as his chagrined teacher had to admit when the boy was cross-examined. He had not been "up to some of his tricks;" he had stuck, and his explanations, as you will admit, merely emphasized his incapacity.
He had brought himself to public scorn for lack of a word. What word? they asked testily; but even now he could not tell. He had wanted a Scotch word that would signify how many people were in church, and it was on the tip of his tongue, but would come no farther. Puckle was nearly the word, but it did not mean so many people as he meant. The hour had gone by just like winking; he had forgotten all about time while searching his mind for the word.
* * * * *The other five [examiners] were furious.... "You little tattie doolie," Cathro roared, "were there not a dozen words to wile from if you had an ill-will to puckle? What ailed you at manzy, or--"
"I thought of manzy," replied Tommy, woefully, for he was ashamed of himself, "but--but a manzy's a swarm.
It would mean that the folk in the kirk were buzzing thegither like bees, instead of sitting still."
"Even if it does mean that," said Mr. Duthie, with impatience, "what was the need of being so particular?
Surely the art of essay-writing consists in using the first word that comes and hurrying on."
"That's how I did," said the proud McLauchlan [Tommy's successful competitor]....
"I see," interposed Mr. Gloag, "that McLauchlan speaks of there being a mask of people in the church. Mask is a fine Scotch word."
"I thought of mask," whimpered Tommy, "but that would mean the kirk was crammed, and I just meant it to be middling full."
"Flow would have done," suggested Mr. Lonimer.
"Flow's but a handful," said Tommy.
"Curran, then, you jackanapes!"
"Curran's no enough."
Mr. Lorrimer flung up his hands in despair.
"I wanted something between curran and mask," said Tommy, doggedly, yet almost at the crying.
Mr. Ogilvy, who had been hiding his admiration with difficulty, spread a net for him. "You said you wanted a word that meant middling full. Well, why did you not say middling full--or fell mask?"
"Yes, why not?" demanded the ministers, unconsciously caught in the net.
"I wanted one word," replied Tommy, unconsciously avoiding it.
"You jewel!" muttered Mr. Ogilvy under his breath, but Mr. Cathro would have banged the boy's head had not the ministers interfered.
"It is so easy, too, to find the right word," said Mr. Gloag.
"It's no; it's difficult as to hit a squirrel," cried Tommy, and again Mr. Ogilvy nodded approval.
* * * * *And then an odd thing happened. As they were preparing to leave the school [Cathro having previously run Tommy out by the neck], the door opened a little and there appeared in the aperture the face of Tommy, tear-stained but excited. "I ken the word now," he cried, "it came to me a' at once; it is hantle!"
Mr. Ogilvy ... said in an ecstasy to himself, "He had to think of it till he got it--and he got it. The laddie is a genius!"
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. What is the derivation of the word vocabulary?
2. Briefly discuss any complete speech given in this volume, with reference to ( a) exactness, ( b) variety, and ( c) charm, in the use of words.
3. Give original examples of the kinds of word-studies referred to on pages 337 and 338.
4. Deliver a short talk on any subject, using at least five words which have not been previously in your
5. Make a list of the unfamiliar words found in any address you may select.
6. Deliver a short extemporaneous speech giving your opinions on the merits and demerits of the use of unusual words in public speaking.
7. Try to find an example of the over-use of unusual words in a speech.
8. Have you used reference books in word studies? If so, state with what result.
9. Find as many synonyms and antonyms as possible for each of the following words: Excess, Rare, Severe, Beautiful, Clear, Happy, Difference, Care, Skillful, Involve, Enmity, Profit, Absurd, Evident, Faint, Friendly, Harmony, Hatred, Honest, Inherent.
[Footnote 32: How to Attract and Hold an Audience, J. Berg Esenwein.]
[Footnote 33: A book of synonyms and antonyms is in preparation for this series, "The Writer's Library."]
[Footnote 34: Composition and Rhetoric, J.M. Hart.]
Lulled in the countless chambers of the brain, Our thoughts are linked by many a hidden chain; Awake but one, and lo! what myriads rise! Each stamps its image as the other flies!
* * * * *Hail, memory, hail! in thy exhaustless mine From age to age unnumber'd treasures shine! Thought and her shadowy brood thy call obey, And Place and Time are subject to thy sway!
--SAMUEL ROGERS, Pleasures of Memory.
Many an orator, like Thackeray, has made the best part of his speech to himself--on the way home from the lecture hall. Presence of mind--it remained for Mark Twain to observe--is greatly promoted by absence of body. A hole in the memory is no less a common complaint than a distressing one.
Henry Ward Beecher was able to deliver one of the world's greatest addresses at Liverpool because of his excellent memory. In speaking of the occasion Mr. Beecher said that all the events, arguments and appeals that he had ever heard or read or written seemed to pass before his mind as oratorical weapons, and standing there he had but to reach forth his hand and "seize the weapons as they went smoking by." Ben Jonson could repeat all he had written. Scaliger memorized the Iliad in three weeks. Locke says: "Without memory, man is a perpetual infant." Quintilian and Aristotle regarded it as a measure of genius.
Now all this is very good. We all agree that a reliable memory is an invaluable possession for the speaker. We never dissent for a moment when we are solemnly told that his memory should be a storehouse from which at pleasure he can draw facts, fancies, and illustrations. But can the memory be trained to act as the warder for all the truths that we have gained from thinking, reading, and experience? And if so, how? Let us see.
Twenty years ago a poor immigrant boy, employed as a dish washer in New York, wandered into the Cooper Union and began to read a copy of Henry George's "Progress and Poverty." His passion for knowledge was awakened, and he became a habitual reader. But he found that he was not able to remember what he read, so he began to train his naturally poor memory until he became the world's greatest memory expert. This man was the late Mr. Felix Berol. Mr. Berol could tell the population of any town in the world, of more than five thousand inhabitants. He could recall the names of forty strangers who had just been introduced to him and was able to tell which had been presented third, eighth, seventeenth, or in any order. He knew the date of every important event in history, and could not only recall an endless array of facts but could correlate them perfectly.
To what extent Mr. Berol's remarkable memory was natural and required only attention, for its development, seems impossible to determine with exactness, but the evidence clearly indicates that, however useless were many of his memory feats, a highly retentive memory was developed where before only "a good forgettery"
The freak memory is not worth striving for, but a good working memory decidedly is. Your power as a speaker will depend to a large extent upon your ability to retain impressions and call them forth when occasion demands, and that sort of memory is like muscle--it responds to training.
What Not to Do
It is sheer misdirected effort to begin to memorize by learning words by rote, for that is beginning to build a pyramid at the apex. For years our schools were cursed by this vicious system--vicious not only because it is inefficient but for the more important reason that it hurts the mind. True, some minds are natively endowed with a wonderful facility in remembering strings of words, facts, and figures, but such are rarely good reasoning minds; the normal person must belabor and force the memory to acquire in this artificial way.
Again, it is hurtful to force the memory in hours of physical weakness or mental weariness. Health is the basis of the best mental action and the operation of memory is no exception.
Finally, do not become a slave to a system. Knowledge of a few simple facts of mind and memory will set you to work at the right end of the operation. Use these principles, whether included in a system or not, but do not bind yourself to a method that tends to lay more stress on the way to remember than on the development of memory itself. It is nothing short of ridiculous to memorize ten words in order to remember one fact.
The Natural Laws of Memory
Concentrated attention at the time when you wish to store the mind is the first step in memorizing--and the most important one by far. You forgot the fourth of the list of articles your wife asked you to bring home chiefly because you allowed your attention to waver for an instant when she was telling you. Attention may not be concentrated attention. When a siphon is charged with gas it is sufficiently filled with the carbonic acid vapor to make its influence felt; a mind charged with an idea is charged to a degree sufficient to hold it. Too much charging will make the siphon burst; too much attention to trifles leads to insanity. Adequate attention, then, is the fundamental secret of remembering.
Generally we do not give a fact adequate attention when it does not seem important. Almost everyone has seen how the seeds in an apple point, and has memorized the date of Washington's death. Most of us have--perhaps wisely--forgotten both. The little nick in the bark of a tree is healed over and obliterated in a season, but the gashes in the trees around Gettysburg are still apparent after fifty years. Impressions that are gathered lightly are soon obliterated. Only deep impressions can be recalled at will. Henry Ward Beecher said:
"One intense hour will do more than dreamy years." To memorize ideas and words, concentrate on them until they are fixed firmly and deeply in your mind and accord to them their true importance. LISTEN with the mind and you will remember.
How shall you concentrate? How would you increase the fighting-effectiveness of a man-of-war? One vital way would be to increase the size and number of its guns. To strengthen your memory, increase both the number and the force of your mental impressions by attending to them intensely. Loose, skimming reading, and drifting habits of reading destroy memory power. However, as most books and newspapers do not warrant any other kind of attention, it will not do altogether to condemn this method of reading; but avoid it when you are trying to memorize.
Environment has a strong influence upon concentration, until you have learned to be alone in a crowd and undisturbed by clamor. When you set out to memorize a fact or a speech, you may find the task easier away from all sounds and moving objects. All impressions foreign to the one you desire to fix in your mind must be eliminated.
The next great step in memorizing is to pick out the essentials of the subject, arrange them in order, and dwell upon them intently. Think clearly of each essential, one after the other. Thinking a thing--not allowing the mind to wander to non-essentials--is really memorizing.
Association of ideas is universally recognized as an essential in memory work; indeed, whole systems of memory training have been founded on this principle.
Many speakers memorize only the outlines of their addresses, filling in the words at the moment of speaking.
Some have found it helpful to remember an outline by associating the different points with objects in the room. Speaking on "Peace," you may wish to dwell on the cost the cruelty, and the failure of war, and so lead to the justice of arbitration. Before going on the platform if you will associate four divisions of your outline with four objects in the room, this association may help you to recall them. You may be prone to forget your third point, but you remember that once when you were speaking the electric lights failed, so arbitrarily the electric light globe will help you to remember "failure." Such associations, being unique, tend to stick in the mind. While recently speaking on the six kinds of imagination the present writer formed them into an acrostic-- visual, auditory, motor, gustatory, olfactory, and tactile, furnished the nonsense word vamgot, but the six points were easily remembered.
In the same way that children are taught to remember the spelling of teasing words-- separate comes from separ--and as an automobile driver remembers that two C's and then two H's lead him into Castor Road, Cottman Street, Haynes Street and Henry Street, so important points in your address may be fixed in mind by arbitrary symbols invented by yourself. The very work of devising the scheme is a memory action. The psychological process is simple: it is one of noting intently the steps by which a fact, or a truth, or even a word, has come to you. Take advantage of this tendency of the mind to remember by association.
Repetition is a powerful aid to memory. Thurlow Weed, the journalist and political leader, was troubled because he so easily forgot the names of persons he met from day to day. He corrected the weakness, relates Professor William James, by forming the habit of attending carefully to names he had heard during the day and then repeating them to his wife every evening. Doubtless Mrs. Weed was heroically longsuffering, but the device worked admirably.
After reading a passage you would remember, close the book, reflect, and repeat the contents--aloud, if possible.
Reading thoughtfully aloud has been found by many to be a helpful memory practise.
Write what you wish to remember. This is simply one more way of increasing the number and the strength of your mental impressions by utilizing all your avenues of impression. It will help to fix a speech in your mind if you speak it aloud, listen to it, write it out, and look at it intently. You have then impressed it on your mind by means of vocal, auditory, muscular and visual impressions.
Some folk have peculiarly distinct auditory memories; they are able to recall things heard much better than things seen. Others have the visual memory; they are best able to recall sight-impressions. As you recall a walk you have taken, are you able to remember better the sights or the sounds? Find out what kinds of impressions your memory retains best, and use them the most. To fix an idea in mind, use every possible kind of impression.
Daily habit is a great memory cultivator. Learn a lesson from the Marathon runner. Regular exercise, though never so little daily, will strengthen your memory in a surprising measure. Try to describe in detail the dress, looks and manner of the people you pass on the street. Observe the room you are in, close your eyes, and describe its contents. View closely the landscape, and write out a detailed description of it. How much did you miss? Notice the contents of the show windows on the street; how many features are you able to recall?
Continual practise in this feat may develop in you as remarkable proficiency as it did in Robert Houdin and his son.
The daily memorizing of a beautiful passage in literature will not only lend strength to the memory, but will store the mind with gems for quotation. But whether by little or much add daily to your memory power by practise.
Memorize out of doors. The buoyancy of the wood, the shore, or the stormy night on deserted streets may freshen your mind as it does the minds of countless others.
Lastly, cast out fear. Tell yourself that you can and will and do remember. By pure exercise of selfism assert your mastery. Be obsessed with the fear of forgetting and you cannot remember. Practise the reverse. Throw aside your manuscript crutches--you may tumble once or twice, but what matters that, for you are going to learn to walk and leap and run.
Memorizing a Speech
Now let us try to put into practise the foregoing suggestions. First, reread this chapter, noting the nine ways by which memorizing may be helped.
Then read over the following selection from Beecher, applying so many of the suggestions as are practicable.
Get the spirit of the selection firmly in your mind. Make mental note of--write down, if you must--the succession of ideas. Now memorize the thought. Then memorize the outline, the order in which the different ideas are expressed. Finally, memorize the exact wording.
No, when you have done all this, with the most faithful attention to directions, you will not find memorizing easy, unless you have previously trained your memory, or it is naturally retentive. Only by constant practise will memory become strong and only by continually observing these same principles will it remain strong.
You will, however, have made a beginning, and that is no mean matter.
THE REIGN OF THE COMMON PEOPLE
I do not suppose that if you were to go and look upon the experiment of self-government in America you would have a very high opinion of it. I have not either, if I just look upon the surface of things. Why, men will say: "It stands to reason that 60,000,000 ignorant of law, ignorant of constitutional history, ignorant of jurisprudence, of finance, and taxes and tariffs and forms of currency--60,000,000 people that never studied these things--are not fit to rule." Your diplomacy is as complicated as ours, and it is the most complicated on earth, for all things grow in complexity as they develop toward a higher condition. What fitness is there in these people? Well, it is not democracy merely; it is a representative democracy. Our people do not vote in mass for anything; they pick out captains of thought, they pick out the men that do know, and they send them to the Legislature to think for them, and then the people afterward ratify or disallow them.
But when you come to the Legislature I am bound to confess that the thing does not look very much more cheering on the outside. Do they really select the best men? Yes; in times of danger they do very generally, but in ordinary time, "kissing goes by favor." You know what the duty of a regular Republican-Democratic legislator is. It is to get back again next winter. His second duty is what? His second duty is to put himself under that extraordinary providence that takes care of legislators' salaries. The old miracle of the prophet and the meal and the oil is outdone immeasurably in our days, for they go there poor one year, and go home rich; in four years they become moneylenders, all by a trust in that gracious providence that takes care of legislators' salaries. Their next duty after that is to serve the party that sent them up, and then, if there is anything left of them, it belongs to the commonwealth. Someone has said very wisely, that if a man traveling wishes to relish his dinner he had better not go into the kitchen to see where it is cooked; if a man wishes to respect and obey the law, he had better not go to the Legislature to see where that is cooked.
--HENRY WARD BEECHER.
From a lecture delivered in Exeter Hall, London, 1886, when making his last tour of Great Britain.
In Case of Trouble
But what are you to do if, notwithstanding all your efforts, you should forget your points, and your mind, for the minute, becomes blank? This is a deplorable condition that sometimes arises and must be dealt with.
Obviously, you can sit down and admit defeat. Such a consummation is devoutly to be shunned.
Walking slowly across the platform may give you time to grip yourself, compose your thoughts, and stave off disaster. Perhaps the surest and most practical method is to begin a new sentence with your last important word. This is not advocated as a method of composing a speech--it is merely an extreme measure which may save you in tight circumstances. It is like the fire department--the less you must use it the better. If this method is followed very long you are likely to find yourself talking about plum pudding or Chinese Gordon in the most unexpected manner, so of course you will get back to your lines the earliest moment that your feet have hit the platform.
Let us see how this plan works--obviously, your extemporized words will lack somewhat of polish, but in such a pass crudity is better than failure.
Now you have come to a dead wall after saying: "Joan of Arc fought for liberty." By this method you might get something like this:
"Liberty is a sacred privilege for which mankind always had to fight. These struggles [Platitude--but push on]
fill the pages of history. History records the gradual triumph of the serf over the lord, the slave over the master. The master has continually tried to usurp unlimited powers. Power during the medieval ages accrued to the owner of the land with a spear and a strong castle; but the strong castle and spear were of little avail after the discovery of gunpowder. Gunpowder was the greatest boon that liberty had ever known."
Thus far you have linked one idea with another rather obviously, but you are getting your second wind now and may venture to relax your grip on the too-evident chain; and so you say:
"With gunpowder the humblest serf in all the land could put an end to the life of the tyrannical baron behind the castle walls. The struggle for liberty, with gunpowder as its aid, wrecked empires, and built up a new era for all mankind."
In a moment more you have gotten back to your outline and the day is saved.
Practising exercises like the above will not only fortify you against the death of your speech when your memory misses fire, but it will also provide an excellent training for fluency in speaking. Stock up with ideas.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. Pick out and state briefly the nine helps to memorizing suggested in this chapter.
2. Report on whatever success you may have had with any of the plans for memory culture suggested in this chapter. Have any been less successful than others?
3. Freely criticise any of the suggested methods.
4. Give an original example of memory by association of ideas.
5. List in order the chief ideas of any speech in this volume.
6. Repeat them from memory.
7. Expand them into a speech, using your own words.
8. Illustrate practically what would you do, if in the midst of a speech on Progress, your memory failed you and you stopped suddenly on the following sentence: "The last century saw marvelous progress in varied lines of activity."
9. How many quotations that fit well in the speaker's tool chest can you recall from memory?
10. Memorize the poem on page 42. How much time does it require?
RIGHT THINKING AND PERSONALITY
Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called.
--JOHN STUART MILL, On Liberty.
Right thinking fits for complete living by developing the power to appreciate the beautiful in nature and art, power to think the true and to will the good, power to live the life of thought, and faith, and hope, and love.
--N.C. SCHAEFFER, Thinking and Learning to Think.
The speaker's most valuable possession is personality--that indefinable, imponderable something which sums up what we are, and makes us different from others; that distinctive force of self which operates appreciably on those whose lives we touch. It is personality alone that makes us long for higher things. Rob us of our sense of individual life, with its gains and losses, its duties and joys, and we grovel. "Few human creatures,"
says John Stuart Mill, "would consent to be changed into any of the lower animals for a promise of the fullest allowance of a beast's pleasures; no intelligent human being would consent to be a fool, no instructed person would be an ignoramus, no person of feeling and conscience would be selfish and base, even though he should be persuaded that the fool, or the dunce, or the rascal is better satisfied with his lot than they with theirs.... It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied, better to be a Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool or the pig is of a different opinion, it is only because they know only their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides."
Now it is precisely because the Socrates type of person lives on the plan of right thinking and restrained feeling and willing that he prefers his state to that of the animal. All that a man is, all his happiness, his sorrow, his achievements, his failures, his magnetism, his weakness, all are in an amazingly large measure the direct results of his thinking. Thought and heart combine to produce right thinking: "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." As he does not think in his heart so he can never become.
Since this is true, personality can be developed and its latent powers brought out by careful cultivation. We have long since ceased to believe that we are living in a realm of chance. So clear and exact are nature's laws that we forecast, scores of years in advance, the appearance of a certain comet and foretell to the minute an eclipse of the Sun. And we understand this law of cause and effect in all our material realms. We do not plant potatoes and expect to pluck hyacinths. The law is universal: it applies to our mental powers, to morality, to personality, quite as much as to the heavenly bodies and the grain of the fields. "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap," and nothing else.
Character has always been regarded as one of the chief factors of the speaker's power. Cato defined the orator as vir bonus dicendi peritus--a good man skilled in speaking. Phillips Brooks says: "Nobody can truly stand as a utterer before the world, unless he be profoundly living and earnestly thinking." "Character," says Emerson,
"is a natural power, like light and heat, and all nature cooperates with it. The reason why we feel one man's presence, and do not feel another's is as simple as gravity. Truth is the summit of being: justice is the application of it to affairs. All individual natures stand in a scale, according to the purity of this element in them. The will of the pure runs down into other natures, as water runs down from a higher into a lower vessel.
This natural force is no more to be withstood than any other natural force.... Character is nature in the highest form."
It is absolutely impossible for impure, bestial and selfish thoughts to blossom into loving and altruistic habits.
Thistle seeds bring forth only the thistle. Contrariwise, it is entirely impossible for continual altruistic, sympathetic, and serviceful thoughts to bring forth a low and vicious character. Either thoughts or feelings CHAPTER XXIX
precede and determine all our actions. Actions develop into habits, habits constitute character, and character determines destiny. Therefore to guard our thoughts and control our feelings is to shape our destinies. The syllogism is complete, and old as it is it is still true.
Since "character is nature in the highest form," the development of character must proceed on natural lines.
The garden left to itself will bring forth weeds and scrawny plants, but the flower-beds nurtured carefully will blossom into fragrance and beauty.
As the student entering college largely determines his vocation by choosing from the different courses of the curriculum, so do we choose our characters by choosing our thoughts. We are steadily going up toward that which we most wish for, or steadily sinking to the level of our low desires. What we secretly cherish in our hearts is a symbol of what we shall receive. Our trains of thoughts are hurrying us on to our destiny. When you see the flag fluttering to the South, you know the wind is coming from the North. When you see the straws and papers being carried to the Northward you realize the wind is blowing out of the South. It is just as easy to ascertain a man's thoughts by observing the tendency of his character.
Let it not be suspected for one moment that all this is merely a preachment on the question of morals. It is that, but much more, for it touches the whole man--his imaginative nature, his ability to control his feelings, the mastery of his thinking faculties, and--perhaps most largely--his power to will and to carry his volitions into effective action.
Right thinking constantly assumes that the will sits enthroned to execute the dictates of mind, conscience and heart. Never tolerate for an instant the suggestion that your will is not absolutely efficient. The way to will is to will--and the very first time you are tempted to break a worthy resolution--and you will be, you may be certain of that-- make your fight then and there. You cannot afford to lose that fight. You must win it--don't swerve for an instant, but keep that resolution if it kills you. It will not, but you must fight just as though life depended on the victory; and indeed your personality may actually lie in the balances!
Your success or failure as a speaker will be determined very largely by your thoughts and your mental attitude. The present writer had a student of limited education enter one of his classes in public speaking. He proved to be a very poor speaker; and the instructor could conscientiously do little but point out faults.
However, the young man was warned not to be discouraged. With sorrow in his voice and the essence of earnestness beaming from his eyes, he replied: "I will not be discouraged! I want so badly to know how to speak!" It was warm, human, and from the very heart. And he did keep on trying--and developed into a creditable speaker.
There is no power under the stars that can defeat a man with that attitude. He who down in the deeps of his heart earnestly longs to get facility in speaking, and is willing to make the sacrifices necessary, will reach his goal. "Ask and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you," is indeed applicable to those who would acquire speech-power. You will not realize the prize that you wish for languidly, but the goal that you start out to attain with the spirit of the old guard that dies but never surrenders, you will surely reach.
Your belief in your ability and your willingness to make sacrifices for that belief, are the double index to your future achievements. Lincoln had a dream of his possibilities as a speaker. He transmuted that dream into life solely because he walked many miles to borrow books which he read by the log-fire glow at night. He sacrificed much to realize his vision. Livingstone had a great faith in his ability to serve the benighted races of Africa. To actualize that faith he gave up all. Leaving England for the interior of the Dark Continent he struck the death blow to Europe's profits from the slave trade. Joan of Arc had great self-confidence, glorified by an infinite capacity for sacrifice. She drove the English beyond the Loire, and stood beside Charles while he was crowned.
These all realized their strongest desires. The law is universal. Desire greatly, and you shall achieve; sacrifice much, and you shall obtain.
Stanton Davis Kirkham has beautifully expressed this thought: "You may be keeping accounts, and presently you shall walk out of the door that has for so long seemed to you the barrier of your ideals, and shall find yourself before an audience--the pen still behind your ear, the ink stains on your fingers--and then and there shall pour out the torrent of your inspiration. You may be driving sheep, and you shall wander to the city--bucolic and open-mouthed; shall wander under the intrepid guidance of the spirit into the studio of the master, and after a time he shall say, 'I have nothing more to teach you.' And now you have become the master, who did so recently dream of great things while driving sheep. You shall lay down the saw and the plane to take upon yourself the regeneration of the world."
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. What, in your own words, is personality?
2. How does personality in a speaker affect you as a listener?
3. In what ways does personality show itself in a speaker?
4. Deliver a short speech on "The Power of Will in the Public Speaker."
5. Deliver a short address based on any sentence you choose from this chapter.
AFTER-DINNER AND OTHER OCCASIONAL SPEAKING