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beforehand, and which you should not attempt to change. Suppose some fellow student is about to be expelled from college, and you are called before the faculty as a witness in the case. You would know beforehand that the occasion would be a serious one. You must conform to the fixed occasion, adapt your talk to fit in with the tone of it.
(2) The occasion may be varied by the speaker. Here the occasion and the audience are neutral; they are set in no particular mood or attitude, but are waiting to be turned in such direction as the speaker wishes. He makes the occasion serious or light, as he chooses.
(3) The occasion may be varied by the audience or circumstances. If while you were discussing a most thoughtful subject, your chair suddenly slipped from under you and tumbled you on the floor in a ridiculous heap, you should suddenly change your manner of talking to fit the changed condition. By good naturedly giving your hearers an opportunity to laugh, you would soon be able to restore the situation to its previous plane of seriousness.
17. Be an Attentive Listener.-The golden rule of oral expression is : Talk to others as you would have them talk to you; and listen to others as you would have them listen to you. A dull talker will take on life when he sees that people are giving him strict attention. When others yawn, appear restless and inattentive, then your talk does become truly dull and lifeless. It was once said of a certain great man that
he was the best conversationalist in his circle, though he rarely said anything. He was a good listener and encouraged others to talk by his close, sympathetic attention. The moral is this: if one of your classmates is giving an oral composition that does not exactly fascinate you, one whose end you anxiously awaiting because the talk is dull, do not show any restlessness, but force yourself to listen. He will notice your attention; it will encourage him to do better. Then when it comes your time to talk, he will doubtless show his appreciation by listening to you. Man is a reciprocative being; do him a good turn, and in most cases he will endeavor to return it.
18. Some of the Chief Hindrances to Oral Composition.-
(a) Lack of clear thinking-no purpose in view.
cial and formal, and not knowing when to
(g) Having a dall and unappreciative audience. 19. Discussion after Each Oral Composition.While each student is talking, listen to him closely. When he has finished, be prepared to add any information to the subject or to ask him questions about things connected with the talk, matters which he did not speak of, but which you think should have been included. In these after-discussions very often the most important and original thoughts are brought
Such discussions add life and create interest, and break the monotony of one talk coming after another.
Keep in mind the following test questions to aid you in discussing each talk given in class; apply them to the specimens appearing in this text. (a) Did the speaker show any conscious order
in the arrangement of his material? (See
Sec. 49.) (b) Did he have a mental outline! Give his
probable outline. (c) What unnecessary things were included ? (d) What important things were omitted ? (e) Was the language informal? commonplace ?
"bookish'? (f) Were you interested throughout the talk !
Give reasons for your interest or lack of it. (g) Was the speaker himself interested in what
he was saying? (h) Was the beginning attractive? (i) Was the ending effective? Did the speaker
stop at the right place? Did his tone of
voice indicate that he had concluded ? (j) Was the talk clear? How was it made so? (k) Did the speaker adapt his talk to suit his
audience, the subject, and the occasion ? (1) What other good or bad qualities did you
20. The Infinite Value of Common Sense.—What has been said in this text relative to oral composition is rather general. What is to be said later cannot be put into such definite terms as to assure you of being successful in talking, unless you use common senserely on your own ingenuity and observe the good and bad talk of other people. No mathematician can lay down absolute rules for factoring algebraic problems of varying intricate possibilities; no athletic coach can tell you how to hit a curved ball every time. Human beings are intensely complicated variables. Rules about matters pertaining to human action and conduct are not absolute cure-alls. A little common sense goes a long way towards factoring, hitting a ball, or giving an oral composition.
The three selections given below are not, strictly speaking, to be termed oral compositions, although the first two might be classified as such. In these two are illustrated certain undesirable qualities that are often met with in oral compositions. Both Jane Austen and Mark Twain knew human nature so well that they could give us life-like talks of people whose speech is rambling, uncertain, and wordy. In the third selection we shall find desirable qualities; for Lincoln saw his subject clearly, and stuck to it. He was intensely interested in what he was saying, and employed striking illustrations. Read the three selections carefully to get their meaning; then read them aloud, trying to read them as you imagine they were spoken. Test them by the questions on page 45.
1. JANE'S LETTER*
"Oh, yes-Mr. Elton, I understand certainly as to dancing—Mrs. Cole was telling me that dancing at the rooms at Bath was—Mrs. Cole was so kind as to sit some time with us, talking of Jane; for as soon as she came in she began enquiring after her, Jane is so very great a favorite there. Whenever she is with us, Mrs. Cole does not know how to show her kindness enough; and I must say that Jane deserves it as much as anybody can. And so she began enquiring after her directly, saying, 'I know you cannot have heard from Jane lately, because it is not her time for writing’; and when I immediately said, 'But, indeed we have, we had a letter this very morning,' I do not know that I ever saw anybody more surprised. 'Have you, upon your honor!' said she; 'well, that is quite unexpected. Do let me hear what she says.'”
“Oh, here it is. I was sure it could not be so far off; but I had put my huswife upon it, you see, without being aware, and so it was quite hid; but I had it in my hand so very lately that I was almost sure it must be on the table. I was reading it to Mrs. Cole, and, since she went away, I was reading it again to mother, for it is such a pleasure to her—a letter from
• From Emma, by Jane Austen, Chapter 19.