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PUBLIC SPEAKING is the art of efficient public communication by spoken and gesticular language." Reading and recitation, in short, all kinds of delivery, before few or many, are included under this term. The subject includes all that is now taught as rhetoric and delivery. Anciently, as is indicated by the Greek word Éirop, meaning speaker, Rhetoric was identical with Public Speaking. “Aristotle,” says Professor Hill, “makes the very essence of rhetoric to lie in the distinct recognition of an audience.”

This treatise deals with the fundamental processes of Public Speaking, and especially with those involved in the act of Delivery. It assumes familiarity with the technique of what is now taught as rhetoric. Those who lack this assumed familiarity are referred to books on rhetoric for such topics as the Choice and Use of Words, the Doctrine of the Sentence and the Paragraph, Figures of Speech, Different kinds of Composition, Style, and other topics connected with Composition.

Extensive Knowledge, a Reliable Memory, Logical Skill, and Tact, utilizing common-sense and a knowledge of human nature by means of which the speaker adapts the speech and its delivery to a particular audience, are among the sources of power in Public Speaking.

But as these topics belong more to the preparation than to the delivery of the speech, they are dismissed from consideration in this book.

1 See Principles of Rhetoric, by A. S. Hill, p. 1.

The related sciences of Grammar, Logic, Æsthetics, and Ethics contribute their law; to the art. Hence the confusion of those who speak of the subject as a science.

As the subject is an art, it has skill as its aim; and from the beginning to the end, in this attempt to methodize instruction in Public Speaking, this aim is kept before the student; and a distinct effort made to render him skilful in commanding the principles to which, consciously or unconsciously, effective speaking must always conform. Accordingly, instead of the hopeless method of prescribing innumerable rules impossible of application, this treatise aims to thoroughly analyze the sources and elements of the essentials of the art, and to exhibit the leading excellences that must be cultivated in contrast with the faults that are to be corrected.

The art of making a speech involves, usually, the process of reproducing a set of ideas upon some subject. If there has been previous reflection upon a subject, whether the discourse has been written or not, it is, in its delivery, a reproduction. But effective reproduction is creative, and not mechanical. Moreover, discourse created or re-created at the point of delivery is extemporaneous. Hence, in the praxis of written or printed selections, since creation or recreation as a central and essential idea is strenuously insisted on, the discipline of this work qualifies for the delivery of either written or unwritten matter.


To further distinguish the properties of delivery, it is important to recognize the wide difference between reading and speaking. Listening to the delivery of a person who is out of sight, you can ordinarily determine whether he is reading (that is, delivering from manuscript or the printed page) or speaking (that is, composing in the act of delivery).

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