Fluency Through Preparation. Continued
A nice balance between these two kinds of attention is important.
You can no more escape this law than you can live without air: Your platform gestures, your voice, your inflection, will all be just as good as your habit of gesture, voice, and inflection makes them - no better. Even the thought of whether you are speaking fluently or not will have the effect of marring your flow of speech.
Return to the opening chapter, on self-confidence, and again lay its precepts to heart. Learn by rules to speak without thinking of rules. It is not - or ought not to be - necessary for you to stop to think how to say the alphabet correctly, as a matter of fact it is slightly more difficult for you to repeat Z, Y, X than it is to say X, Y, Z - habit has established the order. Just so you must master the laws of efficiency in speaking until it is a second nature for you to speak correctly rather than otherwise. A beginner at the piano has a great deal of trouble with the mechanics of playing, but as time goes on his fingers become trained and almost instinctively wander over the keys correctly. As an inexperienced speaker you will find a great deal of difficulty at first in putting principles into practise, for you will be scared, like the young swimmer, and make some crude strokes, but if you persevere you will "win out."
Thus, to sum up, the vocabulary you have enlarged by study,1 the ease in speaking you have developed by practise, the economy of your well-studied emphasis, all will subconsciously come to your aid on the platform. Then the habits you have formed will be earning you a splendid dividend. The fluency of your speech will be at the speed of flow your practise has made habitual.
1 See chapter on "Increasing the Vocabulary."
But this means work. What good habit does not? No philosopher's stone that will act as a substitute for laborious practise has ever been found. If it were, it would be thrown away, because it would kill our greatest joy - the delight of acquisition. If public-speaking means to you a fuller life, you will know no greater happiness than a well-spoken speech. The time you have spent in gathering ideas and in private practise of speaking you will find amply rewarded.
Questions And Exercises
1. What advantages has the fluent speaker over the hesitating talker?
2. What influences, within and without the man himself, work against fluency?
3. Select from the daily paper some topic for an address and make a three-minute address on it. Do your words come freely and your sentences flow out rhythmically? Practise on the same topic until they do.
4. Select some subject with which you are familiar and test your fluency by speaking extemporaneously.
5. Take one of the sentiments given below and, following the advice given on pages 118-119, construct a short speech beginning with the last word in the sentence.
Machinery has created a new economic world.
The Socialist Party is a strenuous worker for peace.
He was a crushed and broken man when he left prison.
War must ultimately give way to world-wide arbitration.
The labor unions demand a more equal distribution of the wealth that labor creates.
6. Put the sentiments of Mr. Bryan's "Prince of Peace," on page 448, into your own words. Honestly criticise your own effort.
7. Take any of the following quotations and make a five-minute speech on it without pausing to prepare. The first efforts may be very lame, but if you want speed on a typewriter, a record for a hundred-yard dash, or facility in speaking, you must practise, practise, PRACTISE.
There lives more faith in honest doubt, Believe me, than in half the creeds.
- Tennyson, In Memoriam.
Howe'er it be, it seems to me,
'Tis only noble to be good. Kind hearts are more than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood.
- Tennyson, Lady Clara Vere de Vert.
'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view And robes the mountain in its azure hue.
- Campbell, Pleasures of Hope.
His best companions, innocence and health, And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
- Goldsmith, The Deserted Village.
Beware of desperate steps! The darkest day, Live till tomorrow, will have passed away.
- Cowper, Needless Alarm.
My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
- Paine, Rights of Man.
Trade it1 may help, society extend,
But lures the pirate, and corrupts the friend:
It raises armies in a nation's aid,
But bribes a senate, and the land's betray'd.
- Pope, Moral Essays.
O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! - Shakespeare, Othello.
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishment the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.
- Henley, Inwictus.
The world is so full of a number of things, I am sure we should all be happy as kings.
- Stevenson, A Child's Garden of Verses.
If your morals are dreary, depend upon it they are wrong.
- Stevenson, Essays.
Every advantage has its tax. I learn to be content.
- Emerson, Essays.
8. Make a two-minute speech on any of the following general subjects, but you will find that your ideas will come more readily if you narrow your subject by taking some specific phase of it. For instance, instead of trying to speak on "Law" in general, take the proposition, "The Poor Man Cannot Afford to Prosecute;" or instead of dwelling on "Leisure," show how modern speed is creating more leisure. In this way you may expand this subject list indefinitely.
Initiative and Referendum.
A Larger Navy.
The Liquor Traffic.
The Par Bast.
The Most Dramatic Moment of My Life. My Happiest Days. Things Worth While. What I Hope to Achieve. My Greatest Desire. What I Would Do with a Million Dollars. Is Mankind Progressing? Our Greatest Need.