“Society still cherishes its gifted speakers”

Here is a link to the… “Public Speaking Today” manual written by Dr. Frank Lockwood (U. Arizona), and Clarence Thorpe (U. Oregon).  Time stood still on the subject of public speaking. “Today” in 1922 is today in 2009. Judge for yourself.

 " Society still cherishes its gifted speakers;
and every national crisis gives added proof of their value.
[...]In times of great national danger and excitement it is almost
necessary to reach the people thus, by direct appeal through the
eloquent voices of trusted leaders. Great reforms are seldom
carried through without the aid of impassioned orators.[...]
There is no surer or simpler way to effect this change from cold
knowledge to urgent conviction and flaming action than
through the living personality of the orator. But the speech
can be no greater than the speaker; eloquence is chiefly char-
acter put into words and deeds."

Getting your project proposal accepted and funded is as much a matter of scientific excellence as one of character and of attitude towards your audience. Later on in the manual Dr. Lockwood defines that attitude.

The men who have most constantly won their way into the
hearts of audiences have been the men who have shown genuine
interest in the people. They have desired to be on good terms
with their listeners, and they have made this plain in the
frankest and most unmistakable ways.

So smiling at the beginning of your presentation is necessary, but it is not sufficient. Showing a genuine interest in your audience cannot be done unless you have prepared your talk with your audience in mind. What interests the people attending your talk? Are you tailoring your talk to deliver what they need or do you hope one size (your size) fits all? When difficult questions come during the Q&A, do you answer in a way that demonstrates you wish to remain in good terms with the questioner? The audience hears the depth of your science in your assured voice, but does it also hear the whisper of your heart? 🙂

By Jean-luc Lebrun

Author: Jean-Luc Lebrun

This century: Writer on Scientific writing skills and scientific presentation skills, MC for scientific events, Podcaster, Radio Consultant, Trainer for Research Institutes in Engineering and Life Sciences, Singapore, and in European doctoral schools, as well as in South East Asia Universities. Last Century: Apple Computer, Advanced Technology Group, Technology Information manager. Then Director of the Apple-ISS Research Centre - a joint venture between Apple Computer and the National University of Singapore. Producer of TV program on IT for Singapore Channel 5.

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