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Updated on November 30, 2011



Before starting the art of public speaking, at first we have to know about the art of public speaking. An English proverb says “talk is cheap.” Whoever coined that phrase obviously did not anticipate the 1990s. Nowadays, talk good talk—can be very expensive indeed. The burden of this expense falls heavily both on those who wish to hear accomplished speakers and on those who wish to become accomplished speakers.

Throughout the history of the United States there have been people who earned a living by working the lecture circuit—traveling from city to city, town to town, delivering speeches as a form of entertainment or information to paying audiences. Today, however, the pay for such speechmaking has reached new heights. A polished speaker with expertise in some area of interest can command thousands of dollars for a single speech. Top—ranked stars of the lecture circuit—such as Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, and Larry King—are paid 50,000 or more per speech.

How do such people learn the art of public speaking? A few are “naturals” who seem to be born with the talent, Some have had the benefit of public speaking courses in college, like the one you are taking now,\. Others do it the expensive way. They seek private instruction in speechmaking, which can cost more than $5,000 for six hours of individual work. No, talk is not cheap.

The Power of Public Speaking

We should not be surprised that people put such a high value on public speaking. Throughout history this art has been a vital means of communication. The oldest known handbook on effective speech was written on papyrus in Egypt some 4,500 years ago. Eloquence was highly prized in ancient India, Africa and China, as well as among the Aztecs and other pre—European cultures of North and South America. In Classical Greece and Rome, public speaking played a central role in education and civic life. Aristotle’s Rhetoric, composed in the third century B.C.E. is still considered the most important work ever written on its subject. Despite the many changes in the world since Aristotle’s day, it is as true now as it was then that a person “who forms a judgment on any point but cannot explain” it clearly “might as well never have thought at all on the subject”.

During modern times many women and men around the globe have spread their ideas and influence through public speaking. In the United States, the list would include Franklin Roosevelt, Billy Graham, Cesar Chavez, Barbara Jordan, Ronald Reagan, and Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, and Elizabeth Dole. In other countries, we see the power of public speaking employed by people such as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, South African President Nelson Mandela, Guatemalan human rights activist Rigoberta Menchu, and Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

As you read those names, you may think to yourself, “That’s fine. Good for them. But what does that have to do with me? I don’t plan to be a president or a preacher or a crusader for any cause.” Nevertheless, the need for effective public speaking will almost certainly touch you sometime in your life—maybe tomorrow, maybe not for five years. Can you imagine yourself in any of these situations?

You are a management trainee in a large corporation. Altogether, there are seven trainees in the program. One of you will get the lower—management job that has just opened. There is to be a large staff meeting at which each of the trainees will discuss the project he or she has been developing. One by one your colleagues make their presentation. They have no experience in public speaking and are intimidated by the higher—ranking managers present. Their speeches are stumbling and awkward. You deliver an informative talk that is clear, will reasoned, and articulate. You get the job

Public Speaking

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    • Admiral_Joraxx profile image

      Admiral_Joraxx 5 years ago from Philippines

      Great informative hub. Yes indeed the persons you have mentioned has been very influential, ideally because of their excellent public speaking skills. It's just like your confidence in public speaking marks your conviction about the things you believe in. Thanks for sharing this. 1 vote up.