Chapter 1: The Evolving Art of Public Speaking

Chapter 1: The Evolving Art of Public Speaking
Chapter Summary
As an evolving art, public speaking has changed from the classical era to today's
information age in six key areas: who may speak, what makes a speaker credible, where
speakers find information, what ethical challenges speakers face, how speakers deliver
their speeches, and the audience's expectations. Tracing public speaking across the
centuries illustrates how public speaking has evolved from a time when only welleducated men could speak, and only to a live audience, to an era in which nearly all
members of society have the opportunity to speak and can choose among multiple
delivery options.
In the public speaking class you're taking now, you'll acquire many transferable skills.
Learning how to successfully present a speech increases self-confidence, improves
listening skills, teaches audience adaptation and credibility strategies, expands your
ability to locate and evaluate information, and provides techniques for better organizing
and presenting your ideas.
Your public speaking class won't be the first time you give a speech--nor will it be the
last. Many instructors across a wide variety of disciplines require student participation in
discussions, debates, and presentations. Oral communication skills are essential to doing
well in the workplace. Engaging in public talk at the community level keeps you
informed and more connected with others. Speaking at social events contributes to
important societal and cultural rituals.
Although new communication technologies have transformed how people communicate,
four core ideas provide the foundation for public speaking in any age. First, public
speaking requires audience-centered communication in which speakers focus on listeners'
needs, knowledge, and interests. Second, public speakers must choose excellent
supporting materials that fit the audience, topic, and occasion. Third, public speaking
incorporates five arts, or divisions: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery.
These categories provide guidance in learning about public speaking and developing a
speech. Fourth, public speaking encourages narrative thinking, allowing communicators
to use their imaginations, recognize patterns, structure past events, and identify their
relationships with each other and with the world.
Models of human communication have evolved from the transmission model that views
communication as one-way, to more sophisticated models that incorporate today's
complex communication environment. Public speaking has eight elements: speaker,
message, channel, audience, noise, feedback, context, and environment. The speaker is
the person who has the primary responsibility for presenting information. The speaker's
message includes both verbal and nonverbal communication. Public speaking typically
involves multiple channels of communication, such as integrating presentation media
while speaking in person. The intended recipients of the speaker's message are the
audience. Noise can interfere with the audience's ability to understand the message. The
audience provides feedback in the form of nonverbal responses, questions and comments,
and other communication with the speaker. The context for public speaking includes the
physical setting and the occasion.
Key issues for today's public speaker center on ethics, cultural awareness, and using
presentation software. Increased access to information puts greater ethical responsibilities
on speakers to carefully research their speeches and scrupulously document their sources.
Speakers must remain especially vigilant against plagiarism. Speaking today also requires
applying critical thinking skills to reflect on and evaluate information. In addition,
because they have so many opportunities to learn about others' perspectives, speakers
must speak with cultural sensitivity. Finally, although presentation software provides an
important mechanism for developing visually rich presentations, poor use of digital slides
detracts from the speaker's message.
The speechmaking process involves six basic stages. First, determine your speech's topic
and purpose. Second, analyze your audience so you can adapt your speech to them. Third,
thoroughly research your topic. Fourth, organize your ideas in a way that fits your topic,
purpose, and audience. Fifth, rehearse your speech aloud, preferably in front of an
audience. Sixth, manage your voice and body, presentation media, audience, and time
when you present your speech.
Even in today's information- and technology-driven age, excellent public speaking skills
remain central to excelling personally and professionally, and for participating in a
democratic society. Your public speaking class provides an important opportunity to
learn the fundamentals of speaking in public. So get ready to speak up and make your
voice heard.