If it is true, as Walter Pater said, that “a book, like a person, has its fortunes,” then fortune has indeed smiled upon The Art of Public Speaking. As the book enters its eighth edition, I am deeply appreciative of the students and teachers who have made it the leading work on its subject at colleges and universities across the United States. In preparing this edition, I have retained what readers have identified as the main strengths of previous editions. The book continues to be informed by classical and contemporary theories of rhetoric but does not present theory for its own sake. Keeping a steady eye on the practical skills of public speaking, it offers full coverage of all major aspects of speech preparation and presentation. Throughout The Art of Public Speaking I have followed David Hume’s advice that one “who would teach eloquence must do it chiefly by examples.” Whenever possible, I have tried to show the principles of public speaking in action in addition to describing them. Thus you will find in the book a large number of narratives and extracts from speeches--set off from the text in a contrasting typeface. There are also many speech outlines and sample speeches. All these are provided so students can see how to formulate specific purpose statements, how to analyze and adapt to audiences, how to organize ideas and construct outlines, how to assess evidence and reasoning, how to use language effectively, and so forth. Because the immediate task facing students is to present speeches in the classroom, I have relied heavily on examples that relate directly to students’ classroom needs and experiences. The speech classroom, however, is a training ground where students develop skills that will serve them throughout life. Therefore, I have also included a large number of illustrations drawn from the kinds of speaking experiences students will face after they graduate--in their careers and in their communities. Also as in previous editions, I have been guided by the belief that a book intended for students who want to speak more effectively should never lose sight of the fact that the most important part of speaking is thinking. The ability to think critically is vital to a world in which personality and image too often substitute for thought and substance. While helping students become capable, responsible speakers, The Art of Public Speaking also aims at helping them become capable, responsible thinkers.
FEATURES OF THE EIGHTH EDITION
Given the extremely favorable response of teachers and students to the changes made in the 7th edition, I have kept the basic philosophy and approach of the book intact. At the same time, I have made a number of improvements in response to changes in world events, to advances in technology, and to the evolving needs of students and instructors. The improvements cover a broad range of subjects and are discussed below.
As the use of PowerPoint has become more ubiquitous in every venue for public speaking, the need for students to understand how to use it has grown apace. Many schools now provide students the opportunity to employ PowerPoint in the classroom, and employers increasingly assume that students who have taken a public speaking class have had some exposure to PowerPoint. Unfortunately, PowerPoint is not always used well, a fact that has led many professors to lament the banality of a “typical” PowerPoint presentation, in which the content of a speech is reduced to a set of bulleted lists that a speaker reads off the screen to a bored audience sitting in a darkened room. Discontent with this kind of discourse has been captured perfectly in Peter Norvig’s parody of what the Gettysburg Address might have looked like if Abraham Lincoln had presented it with PowerPoint (“The Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation,” at www.norvig.com/Gettysburg/). When used properly, however, PowerPoint is a...