Speech Now, or Forever Hold Your Peace

inspires respect and confidenceQ Dear Miss Abigail:

My boss has asked me to give a presentation at a conference, but I’m so nervous and don’t think anyone will listen to what I have to say. Do you have tips that will help me get through this?


A Dear Olivia:

How fitting this question is, as I sit in my home in Washington, D.C., listening to the helicopters fly by as they circle the Capitol building a few blocks away, where our President is at this moment giving that state of the union address thingie. I’m sure he doesn’t need any advice about giving a speech, but hopefully this will help calm your fears. It’s from a little book titled The First Book of How to Give a Speech (1963) by David Guy Powers.

1963: Good Posture Gives Poise

What is the first thing you notice about a person? Before he begins to speak you are apt to notice his appearance. If he stands tall, carries himself with dignity, and appears at ease, he usually inspires respect and confidence. The actor who wishes to impersonate a leader carries himself that way. He makes the audience realize the character even before he speaks his lines. If you wish to be a good speaker you must learn to convey meaning with posture as well as with words. Every good actor you see on television knows the value of looking the part.

Train yourself to express your meaning by effective gestures. Remember, ‘Actions speak louder than words.’ Your actions and your words should give one message to the audience. . . . A company advertising shoe polish once used this slogan, ‘Look at your shoes! Others do.’ A similar rule applies to your speech. ‘Look at your posture. Others do.’ Therefore, you should study to make your appearance say the same thing as your words.

Source: Powers, David Guy. The First Book of How to Make a Speech. New York: Frankin Watts, 1963.
~ pp. 24-25 ~