One of the best skills in our personal development arsenal is public speaking. When we give presentations about our businesses or interests, we establish ourselves as authorities or experts. The abilities to communicate ideas and move people to action are key leadership traits valued in most organizations. A side benefit of becoming a skilled public speaker is building self-confidence.
Dale Carnegie identified public speaking as a skill desired by the public back in 1912. He founded the adult education movement in the United States teaching his Public Speaking and Human Relations course at YMCAs. The textbooks for the course were Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business and How to Win Friends and Influence People.
When Dale Carnegie first started teaching public speaking, he tried using existing textbooks, but he found them too academic and impractical, so he wrote his own textbook.
The "1913" edition of Public Speaking, used by Dale Carnegie himself, is now available as a reprint through Kessinger Publishing. (This edition of the book was actually published after 1913. Dale Carnegie makes references to events that happened during the 1920s in the text.)
If I was going to teach a public speaking class, this is the book I would use. My father took the Dale Carnegie Course years ago, and for years I studied and re-studied his yellow-paged book. Now it's falling apart, so I'm glad to have a new copy.
Some of the phrasing and spelling in the book are outdated (which I think gives it a certain charm), but most of the book seems as fresh as when Dale Carnegie wrote it 90 years ago.
According to Dale Carnegie, most people have the ability to speak quite well. Just knock any man down on the street, and he will give you a surprisingly eloquent response.
We can build our speaking skills by first, developing a strong and persistent desire; second, preparing and knowing thoroughly what you are going to talk about; third, acting confidently; and fourth, practice, practice, practice!
Preparing properly for a speech means studying to get as much information about the topic as you can and then "soaking" on the material to pull as much out of yourself on the topic as possible. A speech should not be just a recitation of facts and statistics, but should involve arousing human interest by giving of yourself - your experiences, your beliefs, and your opinions.
A persuasive speech should start with a foundation of your own conviction. Your earnest belief in your cause is contagious. The second foundational element of persuasion is educational. Provide the information your audience needs to answer any questions or objections they may have. Then appeal to the motives of the individuals in your audience. Perhaps they have a desire that overrides another, like a young person who would rather perform well in sports than smoke or eat fatty foods. Other motives that you can appeal to are the desires for gain, self-preservation, pride or vanity, pleasures, sentiments, love and religious ideals.
Public Speaking is written in Dale Carnegie's snappy style, which includes an executive summary at the end of each chapter. Each chapter also includes a "Speech Building" section, including Words Often Mispronounced, Errors in English, Correct Usage of Words and Voice Exercises. Most of this material is still relevant today, although some of the language is British English. If you have a question on pronunciation, refer to an American English dictionary.
If you want to develop or improve your public speaking skills, I highly recommend that you buy and study Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business. Participating in a club like Toastmasters where you have the opportunity to speak can provide more reinforcement and practice of public speaking in a supportive environment.
Buy it on Amazon: Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business (From the author of 'How to Win Friends & Influence People').
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