ASSOCIATES (vol. 2, no. 3, March 1996) -

Table of Contents

              _Public Speaking for College and Career_

                     Reviewed by Bob Farnsworth

"You want me to do WHAT???!" may well be the reaction that some of
us in the Library World have when we're asked to give a
presentation to a group.  Often this happens because (being the
dedicated and resourceful people we are!), we've come up with a new
system for doing something, whether its a new way to search on the
Internet or a better way to deal with library security.
No matter what the topic, Hamilton Gregory in his book _Public
Speaking for College and Career_ has some suggestions that could
make the whole process easier not only on us--but also for our
captive audiences.
First, he does recommend that we consider taking a basic speech
course---if only to have the opportunity (and the push!) to get up
and try it out in front of other people who are probably just as
nervous as we are.
Next, we are warned that just because we have given a speech,
communication may not necessarily have taken place.  "Speaking and
communicating are not the same thing.  You can speak to a listener,
but if the listener does not understand your message in the way you
mean it to be understood, you have failed to communicate it."
We're probably all come out with the sad refrain, "That's NOT the
way I meant it!"
In order to help with the situation, Gregory has set up a checklist
that is not only easy to follow, but that refers to the various
chapters in his book so we can find more suggestions in our own
individual areas of weakness.  The steps range from "1.  Analyze
the audience and the situation so that you can adapt your speech to
the needs and interests of the listeners." to "18.  Seek
evaluations of your speech so that you can make improvements in
your next speech."  (Yes, he DOES believe that once we start, we'll
continue our public speaking experiences!)
There are many useful hints given in this book.  For example, don't
hesitate to go to various public presentations - just to analyze
the methods and strengths/weaknesses of other speakers.  Seeing
some of the ideas put into practical use can enable us to decide
what will and won't work for us.
And much emphasis is given to a fact that we who work with the
public know is true - one needs to help to satisfy the needs and
desires of the listeners we are explaining things to.  Or, as
Hamilton puts it, "The more needs and desires you can help
listeners satisfy, the stronger your speech."
For those perfectionists among us who want everything to go "just
right", the author reminds us that one of American history's
"failures" (at the time it was given) became one of its most
treasured speeches - The Gettysburg Address.
No one does a perfect job, so we need to go easy on ourselves.  We
are told that "Career Track, a company that sponsors business
speeches and seminars throughout the United States, asks listeners
to evaluate each of its speakers.  No speaker has ever received 100
percent satisfaction.  No matter who the speaker, no matter what
the subject matter, at least 2 percent of listeners are
The main thing, however, is to make careful preparation (many
suggestions are given) - and then just DO IT.  No matter what our
topic and no matter who our audience is, we will have developed and
enhanced a skill that will be useful in our careers.  And by
learning to speak well to others, we will have learned to pay
attention to others when they speak - a valuable quality in any
member of a library staff.