Reviewing The Lost Art of the Great Speech by Richard Dowis

public speaking

A public speech’s success depends on many factors: the logic of the speech, its richness, correct mimics, visual contact with an audience, and even the speaker’s appearance. Richard Dowis’s book The Lost Art of the Great Speech covers all aspects of public speeches, from preliminary preparations to writing speech theses and answering questions from the audience.

How to Write One — How to Deliver It

This book will help you prepare a bright, interesting, memorable presentation, overcome stage fear, and effectively communicate with the audience.

The Lost Art of the Great Speech

Getting Ready

Delivering a speech requires preparation. Even the most outstanding speakers rarely deliver their speeches with no prior preparation. In the first row, the author recommends a moral adjustment to the speech: public speech should not be considered doomsday but rather an opportunity to benefit and bring some to your company. Do not panic if you feel scared before the speech: thorough preparation will help you overcome excitement and make you feel more confident.

The next step is to define the aim of the speech. The author suggests six main ones:

1. Entertain.
2. Inform.
3. Inspire.
4. Motivate.
5. Defend the point of view.
6. Persuade.

Speeches often set several aims at the same time.

Having formulated the exact aim, write down the plan of your speech. Richard Dowis recommends writing down everything you would like to speak on during your presentation. After that, three to five important messages should be underlined, while other messages shall be deleted or made secondary. Locate the main and secondary messages in the desired order.

Finding Words

Public speaking is a special kind of speech. It has its own requirements and nuances. That is why the major part of the book is dedicated to the verbal components of the presentation.

1. The author recommends speaking simpler, avoiding difficult terminology and construction, and using the usual words for you.

2. Include elements of dialogues in your speech: personal pronouns, rhetoric questions. Let your speech look like a dialogue, but not a lecture.

3. In your speech, use metaphors, comparisons and other literary devices and techniques. They will make the speech more interesting, rhythmic and memorable.

4. Do not be afraid to make jokes. With the help of a good joke, you can win over the audience and stir positive emotions. Humor will let both the speaker and the audience get a bit relaxed.

5. Speak with no errors. “Just imagine the lecturer you are listening for confuses the words “set” and “settle,” for instance. This will generally not interfere with perceiving the message, but listeners would understand the speaker makes errors. Quite possible is that the speaker might lie instead of telling the facts.”

Keep Contact

In case anybody got interested in the topic of public speeches, he/she would definitely know how important visual contact with the audience is. In the book “The Lost Art of Public Speech,” this vague notion gets clearer features: “the essence of the method lies in the importance of keeping eye contact with a person for several seconds, moving to another one after this”.

Keeping contact with the audience is easier with the help of mimics and gestures. The author compares gestures in oral speech with punctuation marks in the written one: when using them correctly, they will bring clarity to the said, while too many gestures will simply distract the attention of the audience.

Making pauses is another means of drawing the attention of the listeners. Richard Dowis advises to include the word “pause” to the speech notes in order not to forget about them. Pauses will let the speaker take a breath and make one’s tempo more stable.

Learning from the Best

The author expresses the point of view that listening to speakers and reading their speeches constitute one of the main ways to learn how to write and deliver them. This is why at the end of every chapter of the book, as well as inside the text, there are speeches of famous speakers. e.g., Churchill, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan, Thatcher for illustration purposes.

At the end of his book, Dowis offers the Control Card, i.e., a checklist to review before speaking in front of the public and miss the important things.

The book is easy and quick to read. Speeches of famous orators inspire for the creation of one’s own memorable speeches. Exact recommendations and practical techniques from the book will be of practical help concerning this.

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