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The Art of Public Speaking

Become a confident, effective public speaker

By Dale Carnegie, with J.B. Esenwein
15-minute read
Audio available
The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie, with J.B. Esenwein

The Art of Public Speaking (1915) remains one of the most popular and widely-read guides to making effective public speeches. Its approachable language and applicable tips have been turning would-be speech-givers into master orators for more than a century.

  • Aspiring public speakers
  • People who’ve experienced stage fright
  • Anyone trying to increase their influence

An American writer and lecturer, Dale Carnegie was a master of public speaking. He dedicated his career to improving the lives and abilities of his many readers and listeners. His other books include How to Win Friends and Influence People and How to Enjoy Your Life and Your Job.

J.B. Esenwein was an American academic and writer. He served as editor for multiple US publications and taught English at Pennsylvania Military College.

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The Art of Public Speaking

By Dale Carnegie, with J.B. Esenwein
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie, with J.B. Esenwein
Synopsis

The Art of Public Speaking (1915) remains one of the most popular and widely-read guides to making effective public speeches. Its approachable language and applicable tips have been turning would-be speech-givers into master orators for more than a century.

Key idea 1 of 9

Becoming a skilled speech-giver is a matter of practice, and stage fright can be conquered.

Do you remember how you learned to swim? Did you go to the library, study a manual on the art of swimming and then, brimming with hard-won knowledge, confidently don your swimming gear and plunge fearlessly into the nearest body of water?

Probably not. Whether you remember it or not, you learned to swim by, well, swimming – and there was likely a lot of awkward thrashing about and water up the nose before you felt at home in a pool.

Why dwell on your introduction to the aquatic realm? Well, mastering the art of public speaking is much like learning to swim. Giving speeches is the only way to become a skilled orator. And that means jumping into the proverbial deep end.

At first, you’ll probably be filled with apprehension when standing before an audience. But don’t fret. Many great speakers, from the British statesman William Gladstone to the American clergyman Henry Ward Beecher, never ceased to suffer from stage fright.

But speech-giving isn’t a matter of becoming fearless; it’s a matter of mastering your fear. Here are three ways to do that.

The first is to banish feelings of self-consciousness by letting yourself be absorbed by the subject of your speech. If you’re utterly focused on the idea or message that you’re trying to communicate, there’ll be little room for idle worries about your appearance or how the audience perceives you. Subordinate yourself to the content of your speech, and all undue concerns about self-presentation will vanish.

It’s equally important to have something to say. Many speakers fail because they approach the podium unprepared. If you haven’t prepared your material and practiced your speech, doubts and misgivings are sure to assail you the minute you open your mouth. To avoid this, the author advises memorizing at least the first few sentences of your speech.

Then, after preparing for success, expect it. Expecting success doesn’t mean you should be overconfident and complacent. Rather, maintain your humility – not a cowering, servile humility, but a sort of vibrant humbleness, an eternal openness to improvement. Cast aside your self-involved fears, and be willing to succeed.

Your first few speeches may feel like a sort of drowning – but keep practicing, and they’ll soon be going swimmingly.

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