Public Speaking, Dr Stone

Creating receptive and attentive listeners

Dear Gaius

When we make a speech, we want our audience to feel receptive to our message, to gain a favourable impression of us as speakers and to pay good attention to what we are saying. I shall now show you how these three conditions can be brought about.

The purpose of the speech should be briefly summarised, because this shapes the expectations of our listeners and allows them to focus their attention on the content of our speech.

Attentive Listeners

Here are the ways in which we can grab the attention of our audience:

  • By promising that the topic we going to discuss is important, new, or unusual.
    • By stating how the topic relates to the general welfare of the community.
    • By stating how the topic will benefit the members of the audience.
    • By stating why the topic is important in the current social, political or spiritual climate.
  • By simply asking the audience to listen attentively.
  • By enumerating the points we are going to discuss.

Next, I will set out four methods we can use to make our audience feel well-disposed towards us, as follows: presenting ourselves as a credible source, pointing out the negative attributes of the opposition, appealing to the good judgement of our audience, and the simple presentation of facts.

[This is a modern interpretation of Rhetorica Ad Herennium]

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