The Art of Public Speaking HTML version

has spoken he can improve himself by self-observation or according to the criticisms of those who hear.
But how shall he be able to criticise himself? Simply by finding out three things: What are the qualities which
by common consent go to make up an effective speaker; by what means at least some of these qualities may
be acquired; and what wrong habits of speech in himself work against his acquiring and using the qualities
which he finds to be good.
Experience, then, is not only the best teacher, but the first and the last. But experience must be a dual
thing--the experience of others must be used to supplement, correct and justify our own experience; in this
way we shall become our own best critics only after we have trained ourselves in self-knowledge, the
knowledge of what other minds think, and in the ability to judge ourselves by the standards we have come to
believe are right. "If I ought," said Kant, "I can."
An examination of the contents of this volume will show how consistently these articles of faith have been
declared, expounded, and illustrated. The student is urged to begin to speak at once of what he knows. Then
he is given simple suggestions for self-control, with gradually increasing emphasis upon the power of the
inner man over the outer. Next, the way to the rich storehouses of material is pointed out. And finally, all the
while he is urged to speak, speak, SPEAK as he is applying to his own methods, in his own personal way, the
principles he has gathered from his own experience and observation and the recorded experiences of others.
So now at the very first let it be as clear as light that methods are secondary matters; that the full mind, the
warm heart, the dominant will are primary--and not only primary but paramount; for unless it be a full being
that uses the methods it will be like dressing a wooden image in the clothes of a man.
Sense never fails to give them that have it, Words enough to make them understood. It too often happens in
some conversations, as in Apothecary Shops, that those Pots that are Empty, or have Things of small Value in
them, are as gaudily Dress'd as those that are full of precious Drugs.
They that soar too high, often fall hard, making a low and level Dwelling preferable. The tallest Trees are
most in the Power of the Winds, and Ambitious Men of the Blasts of Fortune. Buildings have need of a good
Foundation, that lie so much exposed to the Weather.