Good books on Public Speaking, Part Two

For yesterday’s posting, as well as this one, I owe thanks to my Department Chair, Dr. Brian McGee, who had the misfortune of having me in his graduate Executive Speechwriting class (a level of pain only surpassed by his wife, Deb McGee, and my senior advisor, Dr. Vince Benigni, who both had me for two classes). He’s the one who introduced me to all three of the titles that I’m touting in these postings.

I’ve got two titles that I’d like to share with my readers: “Choosing Powerful Words: Eloquence That Works”, Ronald H. Carpenter (Allyn & Bacon) and “Speak like Churchill, Stand like Lincoln”, by James C. Humes (Three Rivers Press). Both books are a little dated, with Carpenter’s book dating back to 1999 and Humes’ to 2002. But as I said yesterday, the art of public speaking is an ancient one, and one which has been studied across the span of recorded human history, so when compared to 2,500 years, a book that goes back a decade or so can still provide useful insights. Both these books do exactly that.

Carpenter has a good grasp of both the theoretical and practical aspects of public speaking, having written on the history of rhetoric, as well as taught speech training programs for business, legal, and military leaders. These insights are distilled into his book “Choosing Powerful Words: Eloquence That Works” in a well-organized manner that lays out theory and combines it with lots of real-world insights that give readers plenty of food for thought.

Humes is a former Pennsylvania state legislator who has also spent plenty of time in academia. His book, “Speak like Churchill, Stand like Lincoln”, focuses on twenty-one useful speech tactics, such as the use of dramatic pauses, how to use statistics as attention-getters, and how to close a speech strongly, using plenty of real example from well-known public figures. It may not surprise someone to see that many of his examples come from famous 20th century politicians, especially Winston Churchill, but he ties these examples into his points well.

Best of all, you can get these books online for less than ten bucks each. They may be inexpensive, but when you consider the valuable insights they both offer, they’re worth far more than that. If you speak to audiences, or plan to do that in the future, you’d be crazy not to add both of these titles to your personal library.

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