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thinking and talking. To do so, we must for the time do an extremely important thing-imagine ourselves in the position of our hearers and mentally ask ourselves such questions as we think they would most probably ask. Now if we can answer these imagined questions in a unified, consecutive talk of from three to ten minutes, we have experience and self-confidence enough in the process of simultaneous thinking and talking to stand and deliver a similar formal public speech.
Why do some people bore us in their conversation ? It is not always because they do not know enough about the topic under discussion, but either because they are indifferent as to how they express themselves, or because they do not know how to talk so as to be entertaining. If you know and practice the principles of systematic, continuous talking, you will unconsciously apply to your conversation the knowledge and experience you have gained from your oral compositions. You will be more inclined to stick to your subject, and to use better language in your conversations.
This mode of talking-between conversation and public speaking-can be made more effective than the same thoughts written out. For when you talk to people, you are present with the force of your personality—your intonation of voice, your facial expression, your gestures—to add weight to what you say. Often a pause in your speech, an ordinary word uttered in such a way as to have a striking signifi
cance, an impatient sweep of your hand,—these will carry more meaning than you could possibly convey in many written words. You can watch the effect of your talk on your hearers, and choose thoughts and language that for the immediate time fit in. You have your hand, as it were, on the pulse of your hearers, and know what will best suit them at that moment.
The man who enters business must be constantly carrying over his thoughts to the other man by means of oral speech. His talk must be clean-cut and convincing—not loose, undecided, and halting. Professor G. H. Palmer says: “So mutually dependent are we that on swift and full communication with one another is staked the success of almost every scheme we form. He who can explain himself may command what he wants. He who cannot is left to the poverty of individual resource; for men do what we desire only when persuaded. The persuasive and explanatory tongue is, therefore, one of the chief levers of
Again Professor Palmer very truthfully points out: "We speak a hundred times for every one we write. The busiest writer produces little more than a volume a year, not so much as his talk would amount to in a week.” Then it does seem highly important that we be given some instruction and practice in talking as well as in writing. In every walk of life, the man who wins his point, who holds men's respect, must be *G. H. Palmer, Self-Cultivation in English. f Ibid.
able to express his thoughts orally-not necessarily on the public platform, but often to a single person, in such a way as to gain attention, to be understood clearly, to convince. The man who knows what to say and how to say it is master of himself and of other
(1) Write a three-hundred word theme showing why it is important for an insurance salesman (or an automobile salesman, the demonstrator of some kind of machine, etc.) to be able to express himself clearly and often at length.
(2) Write a short narrative account of some business man who lost a big sale, or “bungled" things, because he failed to be pointed and forceful in his talk.
(3) Be able to give orally in class other instances in which great loss or harm resulted from the fact that a foreman or a director failed to make himself clearly understood by his workmen.
4. What an Oral Composition Assignment Implies. -When your teacher asks you to be prepared to give an oral composition at a given recitation, he expects you to be able to talk on some subject from three to ten minutes. But do not pay too much attention to how short or long your talk is to be. Have something definite to say; and when you are talking it out in class, don't be too conscious of the amount of time it will take you to develop your theme. You are to sit in your seat and talk informally, as if you were answering at length a question asked by your teacher, or as if you were talking in an uninterrupted conversation to a friend.
5. Have in Mind What a Good Oral Composition Ought to Be.--If you were a jeweler who wished to make a watch better than any you had ever seen, you would have in mind an instrument perfect in every detail. You would not begin work on your watch till you were satisfied with the plan of it. To be sure, when you completed it, it would not be so good as the ideal one you had planned. But if you had never conceived of the watch perfect in the abstract, then you never could have come so near perfection in the concrete. So it is with your oral composition, you must have in mind some definite standard as to what
a good talk is. It must have thought, and thought that is well arranged and expressed in choice language. Aside from such suggestions as you may get from this text, you can greatly aid yourself in forming an estimate of an ideal oral composition by observing the talks of other people. In planning your ideal timepiece, you would be helped by your knowl. edge of a great many different kinds of watches. Likewise, in other people's speech you should observe the bad and good characteristics, analyze both, avoid one and follow the other. But to gain by the characteristics of some one's speech does not mean that you are to imitate his tone of voice, his language, or his various mannerisms and gestures. Such imitation is a most serious fault. Your copying of some one else would certainly be detected by your hearers, and they would consequently lose interest in your talk.
6. Make Your Talk Interesting.-It often happens that a person has a good subject to talk on, and has well selected and organized material on that subject; yet he makes a poor talk-one that does not appeal to his hearers. To make a talk of this kind is wasting time and words; for when a speaker does not have the interest of his audience, what he says is like a fine lecture delivered to a stone in a desert. In such a case the lack of interest on the part of the hearers can generally be traced to a lack of interest on the part of the talker. The sensible thing for you to do is to become interested in what you are to say; force yourself to become interested, just as you force your