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Title: Public Speaking
Author: Irvah Lester Winter
Release Date: August, 2004 [EBook #6333]
[This file was first posted on November 27, 2002]
Character set encoding: ISO Latin-1
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, PUBLIC SPEAKING ***
IN OFFERING A BOOK TO STUDENTS OF PUBLIC SPEAKING
THE AUTHOR WOULD PAY WHAT TRIBUTE IS HERE POSSIBLE
CHARLES WILLIAM ELIOT
WHO FOR MANY YEARS HAS TAUGHT BY EXAMPLE
THE POWER AND BEAUTY OF PERFECTED SPEECH
This book is designed to set forth the main principles of effective
platform delivery, and to provide a large body of material for student
practice. The work laid out may be used to form a separate course of
study, or a course of training running parallel with a course in
debating or other original speaking. It has been prepared with a view
also to that large number who want to speak, or have to speak, but
cannot have the advantage of a teacher. Much is therefore said in the
way of caution, and untechnical language is used throughout.
The discussion of principles in Part One is intended as a help towards
the student's understanding of his task, and also as a common basis of
criticism in the relation between teacher and pupil. The preliminary
fundamental work of Part Two, Technical Training, deals first with the
right formation of tone, the development of voice as such, the securing
of a fixed right vocal habit. Following comes the adapting of this
improved voice to the varieties of use, or expressional effect,
demanded of the public speaker. After this critical detailed drill, the
student is to take the platform, and apply his acquired technique to
continued discourse, receiving criticism after each entire piece of
The question as to what should be the plan and the content of Part
Three, Platform Practice, has been determined simply by asking what are
the distinctly varied conditions under which men most frequently speak.
It is regarded as profitable for the student to practice, at least to
some extent, in all the several kinds of speech here chosen. In thus
cultivating versatility, he will greatly enlarge his power of
expression, and will, at length, discover wherein lies his own special
The principal aim in choosing the selections has been to have them
sufficiently alive to be attractive to younger speakers, and not so
heavy as to be unsuited to their powers. Some of them have proved
effective by use; many others are new. In all cases they are of good
It is hoped that the new features of the book will be found useful. One
of these is a group of lighter after-dinner speeches and anecdotes. It
has been said that, in present-day speech-making, humor has supplanted
former-day eloquence. It plays anyway a considerable part in various
kinds of speaking. The young speaker is generally ineffective in the
expression of pleasantry, even his own. Practice in the speaking of
wholesome humor is good for cultivating quality of voice and ease of
manner, and for developing the faculty of giving humorous turn to one's
own thought. It is also entertaining to fellow students. Other new
features in the book are a practice section for the kind of informal
speaking suited to the club or the classroom, and a section given to
A considerable space is given to argumentative selections because of
the general interest in debating, and because a need has been felt for
something suited for special forensic practice among students of law.
Some poetic selections are introduced into Part Two in order to give
attractive variety to the student's work, and to provide for the
advantage of using verse form in some of the vocal training. The few
character sketches introduced may serve for cultivating facility in
giving entertaining touches to serious discourse. All the selections
for platform practice are designed, as seems most fitting, to occupy
about five minutes in delivery. Original speeches, wherein the student
presents his own thought, may be intermingled with this more technical
work in delivery, or may be taken up in a more special way in a
It should, perhaps, be suggested that the plan of procedure here
prescribed can be modified to suit the individual teacher or student.
The method of advance explained in the Discussion of Principles is
believed to be the best, but some who use the book may prefer, for
example, to begin with the second group of selections, the familiar,
colloquial passages, and proceed from these to those more elevated and
sustained. This or any other variation from the plan here proposed can,
of course, be adopted. For any plan the variety of material is deemed
sufficient, and the method of grouping will be found convenient and
The making of this kind of book would not be possible except for the
generous privileges granted by many authors and many publishers of
copyrighted works. For the special courtesies of all whose writings
have a place here the editor would make the fullest acknowledgment of
indebtedness. The books from which extracts are taken have been
mentioned, in every case, in a prominent place with the title of the
selection, in order that so far as possible students may be led
carefully to read the entire original, and become fully imbued with its
meaning and spirit, before undertaking the vocal work on the selected
portion. For the purpose of such reading, it would be well to have
these books collected on a section of shelves in school libraries for
easy and ready reference.
The publishers from whose books selections have been most liberally
drawn are, Messrs. Houghton Mifflin Company, Messrs. Lothrop, Lee and
Shepard, Messrs. Little, Brown, and Company, of Boston, and Messrs.
Harper and Brothers, Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons, Messrs. G. P.
Putnam's Sons, Messrs. G. W. Dillingham Company, Messrs. Doubleday,
Page and Company, and Mr. C. P. Farrell, New York. Several of the
after-dinner speeches are taken from the excellent fifteen volume
collection, "Modern Eloquence," by an arrangement with Geo. L. Shuman
and Company, Chicago, publishers. In the first three volumes of this
collection will be found many other attractive after-dinner speeches.
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