Public Speaking

great-dictator-speech

The Great Dictator (1940.  Film.  Charlie Chaplin)

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Pronoun Chart

To analyse Charlie Chaplin’s speech in The Great Dictator, count how many times the different types of pronouns were used.  Record these numbers.

Which pronouns are used most often?  Which pronouns were used least often? Why would this balance of pronouns have been chosen by Charlie Chaplin for this speech?

Note also the length of the sentences in this speech.  What is the average number of words per sentence?  Count the total number of words in the speech, and divide this total by the number of sentences (words/sentences).

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Malala Yousafzai

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai 

Yousafzai, 22, became the youngest person to receive a Nobel peace prize in 2014 at just 17-years-old, for her campaigning for girls’ education rights in Pakistan. She was shot by the Taliban in 2012 on the bus home from school, in an attempted assassination. 

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Paxton Smith

Paxton Smith Speech at Lake Highlands Graduation (7:52)

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Adele Gesticulating for Emphasis

Adele shows her displeasure at the Brit awards by giving the finger to ‘the suits’.

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Passionate Presentation

Raw Video: Candidate’s Extremely Fiery Speech (1:42)

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The importance of theatrical facial expressions and gestures for capturing and directing the mind of an audience cannot be overstated. With practice, theatrical facial expressions and gestures can appear natural. Mr. Hitler understood this, and had a photographer take pictures as he practiced synchronizing his body movements with his speech delivery (c.1925).  His resulting well crafted performances were very dramatic and commanded attention.

We have the technology today to allow any presenter to record themselves in action and to then review their performance for revisions in a cycle of improvements.  I recommend strongly that this be done by all presenters and their assessors.  There is no excuse for not doing this in 2022.

The power of the colloquial phrase and gesture in connecting with an audience also cannot be overstated.  Mr. Churchill understood this very well, as exemplified by his brilliant use of flashing the “V for Victory” salute – which he then slyly reversed to communicate another sentiment that was immediately understood by all in the audience.  He was speaking their common language in the basest way.

Presenters must speak in the language of the place.  They must know and use the lingo, the vernacular, the argot, and all the simple words of a day in making plain their message.  To speak otherwise is to fail to connect with the audience, to fail as a communicator, and to fail as a presenter.

To learn more about the effective use of gesticulations, I recommend the following:

  1. Body Language (Arika Okrent, Lapham’s Quarterly) 
  2. Center for Gesture and Speech Research (McNeil Lab) 
  3. I’m a Body Language Expert. Here’s What I Saw During the Conventions. 

I was just thinking of how very awkward I felt when first doing presentations.  And I am reminded of a colleague who had such a severe case of stage fright that he quit his job as a Trainer, even though he had a tremendous amount of experience in the field (Wildland Fire Fighting).  Clearly, simply knowing one’s subject thoroughly is not enough to be successful as a presenter.  Even being so brave as to rappel from a helicopter and lead a crew into the jaws of hell is not enough to prepare one to be a presenter.

Presenting does involve skills that can be developed.  As with the development of any skill, the key is to: “Practice, practice, practice.  And then practice some more to get good at it.”

And finally, some words of wisdom from the ancients:

“When you wish to instruct, be brief—so that the minds of men take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind.”
— Cicero 

“The finest words in the world are only vain sounds, if you cannot comprehend them.”
— Anatole France

“Simplicity is the glory of expression.”
— Walt Whitman

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Itallian Hand Gestures (2) How to talk with your hands • 60 Italian HAND GESTURES (4:49)

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Indian Sign Language Council 1930Indian Sign Language Council of 1930 (8:23)

Plains Indian Sign Language

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Hitler Poses for Camera

Hitler’s call to arms: How the Fuhrer had a photographer help him practice his extreme hand gestures and body language

These pictures reportedly taken in 1925, give a behind the scenes look of the former leader of Nazi Germany rehearsing his emphatic gestures while listening to recordings of his speeches.

The images were captured by Hitler’s private photographer Heinrich Hoffman and were taken so the dictator could review them later.

  1. Hitler speaking at a foreign press conference (1933) (1:59)
  2. Listen Adolf Hitler’s closing address at the Nürnberg Rally, 1934 (00:17)
  3. Adolf Hitler: Speech at Krupp Factory in Germany, 1935 (00:36)
  4. Nazi Congress in Nuremberg, Germany, 1936 (1:20)
  5. HITLER THANKS MEMBERS OF THE SA AND SS (1:48)
  6. Adolf Hitler: Reichstag Speech, 1939 (00:57)
  7. Speeches by Roosevelt and Hitler: A Contrast in Words and Intentions (8:57)
  8. The Only Secret Recording of Hitler’s Normal Voice | The Hitler-Mannerheim Recording (13:32)
  9. Hitler 1920s (Overview)(5:30)

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Hitler Pleading PoseAnd this pose sez:

“Please, believe what I tell you – because I’m a really nice guy!”

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Iron Lung Speech

The Man in the Iron Lung (5:21)

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Prince Ea

Stop Wasting Your Life (Prince Ea, 7:06)

Motivational Speaking in the Modern Age.

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How to Record and Edit a Video of Your Speech

Use the following MS Windows applications on your laptop:

  1. Camera
  2. Photos
  3. Video Editor
  4. VLC Media Player (VideoLAN)
  5. Coole VLC Media Player for Windows 10
  6. Voice Recorder
  7. Your Phone

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Stage Fright

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Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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The Odyssey (Homer)   …   And grey-eyed Athene sent them a favourable gale, a fresh West Wind, singing over the wine-dark sea. 

And Telemachus called unto his company and bade them lay hands on the tackling, and they hearkened to his call. So they raised the mast of pine tree and set it in the hole of the cross plank, and made it fast with forestays, and hauled up the white sails with twisted ropes of oxhide. And the wind filled the belly of the sail, and the dark wave seethed loudly round the stem of the running ship, and she fleeted over the wave, accomplishing her path. Then they made all fast in the swift black ship, and set mixing bowls brimmed with wine, and poured drink offering to the deathless gods that are from everlasting, and in chief to the grey eyed daughter of Zeus. So all night long and through the dawn the ship cleft her way. 

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