The Art of Public Speaking

You may ask yourself. “How am I actually going to get my message out into the world?” This is a very interesting and clever question. First and foremost, you are going to have to be “just a touch brave.” To paraphrase Osho: “There are no heroes and no cowards: there is only action.” (1) Public speaking is not a natural process for most people. You will become nervous: your palms will perspire and your heart rate will increase. You must accept this as natural. There are many techniques that you can use to calm yourself.

Mindfulness, (2) for example, is an excellent meditation technique. At the onset, it is imperative that you unflinchingly believe in “your message,” (I want to save the world, for example): this is paramount. Then you are able to proceed. There are several “tried and true” methodologies that will greatly assist you as you build your communication skills. Firstly your discourse must be rational: it must be predicated on a thesis or idea (A); it must hold an interesting and articulate main body (B+C+D) and possess a succinct and clever conclusion that ties back to the original thesis (A).

The process begins with critical thinking: a clear, lucid thought process. In times past, an education included a detailed study of rhetoric “a learning technique that improved the capability of writers or speakers to inform, persuade, or motivate audiences in specific situations.” As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric played a pivotal role in European history; this began with its inception in ancient Greece.

Its scholastic format is traditionally ascribed to Aristotle (384-322 BC) who considered it a balanced marriage between logic and politics. He thus described it as: “the faculty of utilizing, in every given case, the available means of persuasion.” The study of rhetoric typically provided real-life examples or “heuristics” for understanding, discovering, and developing arguments for each particular situation. Aristotle developed a standard appeal to his audience using logos (reason), pathos (emotion) and ethos (morality). The five canons of rhetoric, which trace the traditional tasks in designing a persuasive speech, were first codified in classical Rome: these are (i) invention, (ii) arrangement, (iii) style, (iv) memory and (v) delivery. Rhetoric, grammar and logic were considered the three “building blocks” of discourse or communication.

All studies were predicated on a clearly defined methodology. Your learning began with the Trivium, a systematic method of critical thinking using the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. During the Middle Ages, (3) the Trivium was considered the lower division of the seven liberal arts: it was comprised of grammar, logic and rhetoric. The Latin word means where the three roads meet, hence it is the intellectual keystone.

The Quadrivium, where the four roads meet, was achieved by gaining a detailed comprehension of arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. Together, the Trivium and the Quadrivium encompassed the seven liberal arts (based on intellectual analysis). This was opposed to the practical arts, medicine and architecture, to name but a few (based on utility and action).

All great speeches need to begin with a “grabber,” a turn of phrase or a question that galvanizes the audience’s interest and focuses their attention. One can never begin with, “Excuse me, I am a little nervous or this is my first time.” The harsh reality is that “nobody cares” how you feel. The crowd is on your side, but it expects to be given something worthwhile: something of knowledge.

Preparation and practice, practice and more practice are your essential implements. Your mission will be to create a meaning to your thoughts: good luck. The great historical icon, Sir Winston Churchill, (1874-1965) leaves us with the conclusion to his monumental speech, (4) on June 4th 1940, which rallied the British Empire and, ultimately, the world to the call of freedom:

We shall fight on the beaches,

we shall fight on the landing grounds,

we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,

we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender,

and even if, which I do not for a moment believe,

this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving,

then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old. (5)

This speech is a “glowing example” of getting your message and your values out into the world so they will be heard. Who will stop you from delivering your own words? The answer is only you — you are the only true enemy of you. (Parts of this essay were originally published in October 2014)

A closing thought: We must all realize that I can only see my reality through my five senses. My sixth sense, my connectivity with the universe, is my guide. So many people have stopped themselves from their hopes and dreams. We must guard against becoming one of them.

To sum up: This week we spoke about conveying our message to the world

To be noted: A man went to the store to buy some tea eggs. Upon arriving home, he announced: “Honey, I bought your four tea eggs.” “Good gracious!” his wife responded, “Where shall we put them all?” (A hint: say it quickly.)

Just for fun: Mozart Piano Concerto No 21 

For reflection: John Searle on Ludwig Wittgenstein

This week on your thoughtful walk, please ask yourself what is your life mission: everyone must have one.

Every day look for something magical and beautiful

Quote: The valley beyond the mountain, though difficult to reach, can be sighted from a great distance. Its beauty guides us to its green pastures. Such is the journey of a meaningful life.


1) Courage: Osho (ISBN: 9-780-3122-05-17-1)

2) Mindfulness

3) Middle Ages

4) We shall fight on the beaches

5) We Shall Fight on the Beaches Scene