The Art of Public Speaking HTML version
this tune in the insincere prayer of the King, Hamlet's uncle. He laments thus pointedly:
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
The truth is, that as a speaker your words must be born again every time they are spoken, then they will not
suffer in their utterance, even though perforce committed to memory and repeated, like Dr. Russell Conwell's
lecture, "Acres of Diamonds," five thousand times. Such speeches lose nothing by repetition for the perfectly
patent reason that they arise from concentrated thought and feeling and not a mere necessity for saying
something--which usually means anything, and that, in turn, is tantamount to nothing. If the thought beneath
your words is warm, fresh, spontaneous, a part of your self, your utterance will have breath and life. Words
are only a result. Do not try to get the result without stimulating the cause.
Do you ask how to concentrate? Think of the word itself, and of its philological brother, concentric. Think of
how a lens gathers and concenters the rays of light within a given circle. It centers them by a process of
withdrawal. It may seem like a harsh saying, but the man who cannot concentrate is either weak of will, a
nervous wreck, or has never learned what will-power is good for.
You must concentrate by resolutely withdrawing your attention from everything else. If you concentrate your
thought on a pain which may be afflicting you, that pain will grow more intense. "Count your blessings" and
they will multiply. Center your thought on your strokes and your tennis play will gradually improve. To
concentrate is simply to attend to one thing, and attend to nothing else. If you find that you cannot do that,
there is something wrong--attend to that first. Remove the cause and the symptom will disappear. Read the
chapter on "Will Power." Cultivate your will by willing and then doing, at all costs. Concentrate--and you will
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. Select from any source several sentences suitable for speaking aloud; deliver them first in the manner
condemned in this chapter, and second with due regard for emphasis toward the close of each sentence.
2. Put into about one hundred words your impression of the effect produced.
3. Tell of any peculiar methods you may have observed or heard of by which speakers have sought to aid their
powers of concentration, such as looking fixedly at a blank spot in the ceiling, or twisting a watch charm.
4. What effect do such habits have on the audience?
5. What relation does pause bear to concentration?
6. Tell why concentration naturally helps a speaker to change pitch, tempo, and emphasis.
7. Read the following selection through to get its meaning and spirit clearly in your mind. Then read it aloud,
concentrating solely on the thought that you are expressing--do not trouble about the sentence or thought that
is coming. Half the troubles of mankind arise from anticipating trials that never occur. Avoid this in speaking.
Make the end of your sentences just as strong as the beginning. CONCENTRATE.
The last of the savage instincts is war. The cave man's club made law and procured food. Might decreed right.
Warriors were saviours.
In Nazareth a carpenter laid down the saw and preached the brotherhood of man. Twelve centuries afterwards