ASSOCIATES (vol. 2, no. 3, March 1996) - associates.ucr.edu
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 dissatisfied." 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.