The Lecture

The Lecture

According to Mortimer Adler, there are three types of speech: The Sales Talk (also called a Motivational Speech), The Impromptu Talk, and The Lecture. Here I will share some elements required to give an effective Instructional Talk:  A Lecture.  I will try to avoid lecturing.

Lectures and lecturing have earned a bad reputation. Speakers of all types have done their share to attach negative baggage to the noble lecture. Children instinctively abhor the parental lecture. Students cut classes taught by boring professors. Those professors attach a disproportionate percentage of their course grade to attendance—so much easier than being interesting.

Adults sneer at windy speeches by politicians and mind-numbing rationales by bureaucrats.

Boring speakers are not a modem phenomenon. Ancient Greeks considered the lecture, including written discourse, to be the noblest of the three ways we learn. (Apprenticeship and experience are the other two.) Oratory skill made lessons palatable and effective. Thus it was important to speak well to your fellow citizens. Those that did not were avoided and never heard.

Early in my career I assisted a VP with his presentation. It was an international marketing summary, and may even have been interesting. The VP had prepared overhead charts. Each was dense with paragraphs of small type. These he would read verbatim. My job was to sit at the projector and flip the charts. Rehearsal was excruciating: ponderously slow, irredeemably dull.

I was sure this man needed my guidance. Since I was fresh from my media course at the Boston University School of Communications, I knew just what to advise him.

“You know, Mr. VP,” I said. “When you read every word to the audience like that, they read it along with you and are done long before you are. This will make it very boring  for them. Maybe you should paraphrase each chart so you finish together. Or better, make new charts with less words.”

He looked at me a long time before speaking.

Finally he said, “Young man, I have been doing presentations this way for twenty-five years and have never had a complaint. I’ll thank you to turn the charts as I direct.”

His attitude was typical. Business people in particular are notorious for eye-glazing talks. Often this is because they are presenting financial data to superiors. A misstep is feared far more than being dull. Their punishment, when they become the superiors, is to sit through similar dreadful presentations. The cycle of boredom is unbroken.

In 1982 a Divisional President was scheduled to speak to Gillette’s Board of Directors about new product successes. It was a fluff bit where he could have loosened up a little. He called in a speech consultant to help him prepare. I ran the support equipment, thus was the fly on the wall. Some of what is in this book I learned from working with this consultant over several years.

He got the full treatment: Don’t grip the lectern with both hands as if holding yourself up. Smile occasionally. Take a step away from the lectern occasionally. Pause, look up and then say a line a two right to the audience before looking down again,

After a few hours of struggle he told the coach, “Look, I know your suggestions are good. And I wish I could do them, but I am not comfortable with them. I have never addressed the Board of Directors and may never again. I have to get through it the safest way.”

This division President was a likeable guy. Relaxed and charming in front of factory workers. He was safe in the factory, less so in the boardroom.

Safe meant a speech written and re-written, approved and re-approved up the line: in a multi-national company it is amazing how many people are above a division president. Safe meant reading the speech word for word with no divergence from the prepared text.

There is a skill to writing material meant to be read. Still another skill to reading it as if you were not really reading it. Actors, news anchors, and very few business people posses those skills. The division president had neither.  This became apparent during his competent but lifeless rendition of his speech to the Board of Directors. I was Mr. Fly there, too.  A lively moment erupted, however, when a grey-haired female board member voiced a complaint.  She objected to the marketing plan that targeted, “women 18-49.”

“Isn’t this a kind of discrimination?” She asked. ” I mean, don’t fifty-five year old women buy our products, too?” Her question was valid but somewhat naive in the board room of a Fortune 50 company. Mr. President was speechless. Silence ruled the room for a seconds just as he had been coached to do.  However accidental it might have been.

With nothing in his speech on this topic he looked up at the woman, making eye contact.  Another good thing. Then he smiled, as he was mildly amused and could not hide it. Smiling made him look relaxed and friendly. He stepped away from the lectern as he answered. He gestured naturally with both hands. No longer clutching the lectern with head down, he became himself. He spoke naturally:

“I understand what you mean,” he said. “This age group thing is primarily a marketing convention designed to help measure the performance of our TV advertising. We want to know if we are we getting the audience we paid for, the one our research says buy most of our products. Of course woman of all ages do indeed purchase our products and are an important contributor to sales and profits.”

Here was a man in command of his subject and the room.

The effect was compelling. No one becomes a president of major corporate division without packing some heavy gear, some internal resources. When he was called upon to summon those skills, he succeeded in notching up the interest level in the room several degrees.

The director persisted in her questioning. This drew in other corporate officers for a lively round-table discussion on the topic. The president ­moderated, a bit baffled, but handled it all with grace, humor, and expertise. For brief moment it was an entertaining and informative meeting. Dozing board members were startled from their slumber. They needn’t have worried. The speaker soon returned to hunch and clutch, to read in monotone as slides flashed prettily on the screen. Board members settled back in their comfy leather chairs as the gentle drone from the front of the room lulled them peacefully to sleep. A cloak of boredom and safety fell over all.

This speaker did not trust himself to be at his best under pressure. He subdued the better part of his personality to his detriment. He did this because believed what he had to say was more important than how he said it. They are equally important. Diminishment of either induces the audiences to tune you out.

I do not suggest that formality and structure be abandoned in speech making. But I often see business and political speakers ignore their audience as they prepare a speech. They think: How will I be perceived? What mistakes might I make? How can I control the situation? I… I… I… Me… Me… Me… They should be thinking, You… You… You.

Preparation and commitment = A memorable lecture.

In 1985 the Assistant Under Secretary for National Economic Affairs (or some such title) gave a speech to Boston business people. A tall, lanky, Kramer-like man, he was bounding  about, talking a mile a minute and scribbling furiously on a blackboard. It was all about arcane financial models, macro this, micro that. It was highly technical, but he had the crowd riveted, myself included, though I grasped only a little of his logic.

He was over most of our heads and we loved it. Afterwards, I spoke with him about how fascinating but hard to get it was. “Yeah,” he said, “Sort of like drinking from a fire hose, isn’t it.” He knew he was ahead of his audience, but his commitment and enthusiasm for his topic was what grabbed us and is what I remember most.

In 1967, Professor Emerson taught Introduction to Anthropology at the University of Maine in Orono. His classes were held in the largest lecture hall on campus. But it was not large enough for the SRO crowds that attended. The University registrar did not over-enroll Professor Emerson’s class. Non-anthropology students gave up down time at The Bear’s Den to slip into the back of the room and hear a great lecturer hold forth on the fascinating anthropological record of pre-human primates and the development of culture in early man. It was my first class so I always got there early for a front row seat.

Professor Emerson loved his subject and we knew it because he let us see his commitment. The cold lecture hall seemed transformed into a warm living room because he was so at ease there. (It may also have been the three hundred human bodies each generating ninety-eight watts of heat, which is two percent less than a light bulb because bodies don’t give off any light energy. Well, perhaps an inner light, but there is no evidence inner radiance has a photonic composition… but I digress.)

Emerson found the humor in his topic and injected it often. However, there was never a laugh that was not directly related to the topic of the day. He was serious about his subject. He didn’t tell jokes. He revealed the facts in an amusing way. He couldn’t always make it funny, but he always made it interesting.

He spoke from notes, but he spoke directly to us. He would take great pauses as he looked down at his notes. When he looked up, he would pause another second, look around and then speak right to us for a while, then back to the notes. (This is a technique called Command the Silence). There was a relaxed, assured rhythm to his presentation that I now know comes from a thorough knowledge of the subject paired with a disciplined preparation. Emerson often included interesting asides and commentary that seemed spontaneous, but were not. They came from years of experience teaching his subject. He had an act and it was well-honed

He knew considerably more about Peking Man than he was telling us, and he planned in advance what he would leave out. He knew a lecture on the contents of pre-historic fire pits could be dull. He made sure it wasn’t. Thirty-two years later I remember, verbatim, large swaths of what Professor Emerson taught me.

These two anecdotes demonstrate even the least sexy topics come alive when rules of good platform speech are applied. The Under Secretary and the Professor were fully prepared, obviously committed, totally relaxed, and above all, interesting.

In addition to considering the needs of your audience, here are some suggestions for a sparkling lecture:

Bad lecturers use long sentences.

Your sentences will be short. Your words will be simple. You will avoid the passive and conditional voice: verbs with an ing at the end and phrases like, there is, could be drawn, or it is to be hoped.

Bad lecturers are long on ideas and short on examples.

You will leap from example to story in a single bound. You will tell stories and give examples till the cows come home.

Bad lecturers drone on because there is so much to say and so little time.

You, the good lecturer, will look for every opportunity to let silence spread over the room. You will ask questions of the audience. You will wait a long time for an answer. You will command the silence.

Bad lecturers, on the rare occasion they attempt humor, advertise that a laugh is coming.

Their body language and facial expressions scream, “Here comes that funny line I have been working so hard to deliver riiii-ght… HERE!” Everybody sees it coming. Nobody is surprised; few are amused.

You will never do that. You will be a sneaky bastard. You will frown in advance of the laugh. You will lower your voice on the punch line. When the audience laughs you will stop speaking, surprised that something funny happened. If they do not laugh, your stoic demeanor will save you from being the only person in the room with a grin on his face.

Bad lecturers surprise in one way: The end, differing in no way from the rest of the speech, catches the audience blinking in surprise.

This is not you. They don’t call it the climax for nothing. You are going to let them know it is coming. You are going to increase your volume and emotional commitment. You are going to go out fast and strong. You will have something saved for the end that will make them glad they stayed to hear it.

Bad lecturers do not listen.

You listen so that you will be in tune your audience and simpatico with how they are feeling. You will check in on them with a question, the answer for which you will wait.

Bad lecturers run overtime.

You will be done before they expect it. If asked to give a thirty-minute speech, you will prepare a twenty-minute speech, or a fifteen-minute speech. Voltaire said, “Woe to the author determined to teach. The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” A good lecturer leaves material out, and saves something for later.

Your reward for being an uncommonly good lecturer is threefold.

First, your audience will be attentive throughout, and happily surprised at the end.

Second, there is time for Q&A. If you know your subject, and the audience has an interest, Q&A is always better than a lecture. Q&A is your encore.  And you still have some material you saved.

Third, because of your brevity and focus they may remember what you said and tell others. Word of mouth is the way important messages are always carried for all time.

There is the tale of a murder in London at midnight. Two witnesses happen on the scene. Fifteen minutes later, they each tell two others who similarly tell two others, and so on. If this continues, everyone on earth will know of it by morning.

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Steve Rapson is the author of The Art of the Soloperformer: A Field Guide to Stage & Podium.  He is a songwriter and concert guitarist with several CD’s in release.  www.soloperformer.com

How To Make A Toast by Steve Rapson

How To Make A Toast

 It gives me great pleasure. — G. B. Shaw

 George Bernard Shaw offered this toast during a fashionable English dinner party. Back then, it was customary for the host to appoint the toaster as well as supply the subject. Sex was the subject. Since sex was unmentionable in polite society at the turn of the century, this was an amusing attempt to tongue-tie Shaw and quash his legendary wit. The ruse failed as his clever toast lives on a hundred years later.

Toasting is as old as literature. Ulysses drank to the health of Achilles in the Odyssey. In Caesar’s Rome, drinking  to another’s health became so important that the Senate decreed that all diners must drink to Caesar at every meal.

Ancient Greeks toasted the health of friends to assure them the wine was not poisoned since poisoning wine was a common means of dispatching an enemy. Thus it became a symbol of friendship for the host to pour wine from a common pitcher, drink it before his guests, and raise his glass for his friends to do likewise.

The term toast comes from the Roman practice of dropping a piece of burnt bread into the wine.  This was done to temper bad wine. A thousand years later, Falstaff said, “…put toast in’t,” when requesting a jug of wine in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor. Charcoal reduces the acidity of slightly off wines. Latin tostus, meaning roasted or parched, came to refer to the act and the drink.

The first recorded toast in England was in 450 AD at a feast given by the British King Vortigem for his Saxon allies. Rowena, the beautiful daughter of the Saxon leader Hengist, held up a large goblet and drank to the king, saying, “Louerd King, waes hael!” “Lord King, be of health!” He replied, “Drink hael!” The evening ended with Rowena and Vortigern married. For a thousand years, drinking in Britain was accompanied with the same exchange, although waes hael became wassail.

Northern Europeans drank mead or ale from the skull of a fallen enemy. As did the Scots and Scandinavians. Highland Scottish “skiel” (tub) and the Norse “skoal” (bowl) derive from it.

In the 1700’s, partygoers toasted the health of absent celebrities, especially beautiful women. In this way a woman became the toast of the town. By the 1800’s, toasting was the proper thing to do. A British duke wrote in 1803 that “…every glass during dinner had to be dedicated to someone,’ and to refrain from toasting was considered ‘sottish and rude as if no one present was worth drinking to.’ It was an insult to refrain from toasting a dinner guest, as the duke wrote, “—a piece of direct contempt”.

Today toasting is less formal, and the worse for it. It was a rare moment when I saw a well done toast. I was the leader and MC of a general business orchestra. We played at weddings, Bar Mitzvahs. graduation parties, anniversaries, Christmas parties, clam bakes, frat parties, proms, and at gatherings with no special purpose save fun and games. At each gig, toasts were offered, some willingly and lovingly, some under obligation, some under the influence. I have seen over two thousand toasts offered. I regret to say we are not doing well in the toasting department.

At weddings, unprepared best men offered most of the ineffective, inappropriate toasts. Most were self-conscious and ill at ease. For a day that is so minutely planned otherwise this should not happen. The solution is to make sure that the young man understands his responsibility to the groom, and someone provides guidance if needed. A copy of this article, for example. But business people, professors, and woozy after-dinner hosts have all missed their opportunity to be their best—to say and do the right thing, and honor themselves and their guests.

A toast is a mini speech. To be effective, the same rules apply as for a big speech. If you find it painful to stand in front of a group of people all looking at you—and you cannot get out of doing the toast—then do the following:

Write and memorize your two-line toast, For example: “To Bill and Mindy… health and happiness. Cheers.” Or choose a toast from the many offered at the end of this article. Modify it to fit your special occasion. This is permitted and encouraged.

Then practice.

Practice at home.

Practice standing up, standing tall, and standing still.

Practice picking up the glass.

Practice holding the microphone, if there is one.

Practice looking at the person who is being toasted.

Practice looking at the assembled guests.

Practice taking three deep breaths before you speak.

Practice speaking in a firm clear voice.

Practice, Practice, Practice. Winston Churchill, one of the greatest speakers of the 20th Century, said that for each minute of speech one must practice for an hour. Your practice to performance ratio may be greater.

A bit of toast etiquette to keep in mind:

Don’t toast the guest of honor until after the host does. If it appears that the host will not offer a toast, quietly request the host’s indulgence to do so yourself.

Stand when offering a toast unless it is a small, informal group. Standing will get the attention of the group and quiet them down.

Don’t tap on your glass. It is considered slightly gauche in some circles.

Hold your glass up and wait for quiet. You might say, “A toast… ” to encourage attention.

If an appointed toaster is reluctant, don’t insist. They may be unprepared or uncomfortable with impromptu remarks.

Never refuse to participate in a toast. It is more polite and perfectly acceptable to participate with a non-alcoholic beverage or even an empty glass than not at all. My mother, bless her heart, once refused to toast to my glass of water. “I never toast to water,” she declared. It is an old custom and one best not adhered to so publicly.

If you honor your duty as a toast giver, you not only honor yourself and the toastee(s), you show respect for everyone who hears your words.

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Toasts for all Occasions

Toasts of Caution

St Patrick was a gentleman

Who through strategy and stealth

Drove all the snakes from Ireland,

Here’s a toasting to his health;

But not too many toastings

Lest you lose yourself and then

Forget the good St Patrick

And see all those snakes again.

___________________________

First the man takes a drink.

Then the drink takes a drink.

Then the drink takes the man.

Dzulkifli Abdul Razak

Wine Toasts

To temperance… in moderation.

Lem Motlow

I’d rather have a bottle in front of me

Than a frontal lobotomy.

(Various: Dorothy Parker, Carlton Berenda)

_____________________________

May friendship, like wine, improve as time advances,

And may we always have old wine, old friends, and young cares.

_____________________________

A warm toast, good company.

A fine wine. May you enjoy all three.

_____________________________

Give me wine to wash me clean

From the weather-stains of care.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let us have wine and women

Mirth and laughter,

Sermons and soda-water the day after

Lord Byron

Wine  and Women…

May we always have a taste for both.

Birthday Toasts

 _____________________________

Many happy returns of the day of your birth;

Many blessings to brighten your pathway on earth;

Many friendships to cheer and provoke you to mirth:

Many feastings and frolics to add to your girth.

Robert H. Lord

To wish you joy on your birthday

And all the whole year through,

For all the best that life can hold

Is none too good for you

_____________________________

May he/she grow twice as tall as yourself and half as wise.

_____________________________

A lovely being scarcely formed or molded,

A rose with all its sweetest leaves yet folded

Lord Byron

A new life begun,

Like father, like son.

Like one, like the other,

Like daughter, like mother.

Every baby born into the world

Is a finer one than the last.

_____________________________

Toasts to the Enemy

Here’s to short shoes and long corns to our enemies.

_____________________________

May the devil cut the toes off all our foes,

That we may know them by their limping.

_____________________________

Cause of Death: Life.

_____________________________

May we all come to peaceful ends,

And leave our debts unto our friends.

_____________________________

May you be in Heaven five minutes before the Devil knows you are dead.

_____________________________

General Toasts

I drink to the general joy of the whole table.

Hamlet

 Cheers, no tears!

_____________________________

Ad multos annos–to many years!

_____________________________

May the path to Hell grow green for the lack of travelers.

_____________________________

May you get lost on the road to Hell

And stop in Heaven to ask directions

_____________________________

May you live as long as you want

And may you never want as long as you live.

_____________________________

May you live all the years of your life.

Jonathan Swift

May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back,

The sunshine warm upon your face,

The rain fall soft upon your fields,

And until we meet again

May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

_____________________________

May the best you’ve ever seen

Be the worst you’ll ever see.

_____________________________

Here’s to beauty, wit, and wine,

And to a full stomach, a full purse, and a light heart.

_____________________________

I drink to the days that are.

_____________________________

Here’s to you,

And here’s to me.

Friends forever we shall be,

But—if we should ever disagree,

The hell with you

Here’s to me!

_____________________________

Here’s to you as good as you are.

Here’s to me as bad as I am.

As bad as I am, as good as you are,

I’m as good as you are as bad as I am.

_____________________________

Here’s to cold nights, warm friends, and a good drink to give them.

_____________________________

Here’s to Eternity

May we spend it in as good company as this night finds us.

_____________________________

Here’s to friendship;

May it be reckoned

Long as a lifetime,

Close as a second.

_____________________________

Here’s to you who halves my sorrows and doubles my joys.

_____________________________

May the friends of our youth be the companions of our old age.

_____________________________

May the hinges of friendship never rust, nor the wings of love lose a feather.

_____________________________

Old wood to burn,

Old books to read,

Old wine to drink,

Old friends to trust.

_____________________________

Here’s to true friends:

They know you well and like you just the same.

_____________________________

A speedy calm to the storms of life.

_____________________________

Everybody in life gets the same amount of ice.

The rich get it in the summer and the poor in the winter

Here’s a health to poverty; it sticks by us when our friends forsake us.

_____________________________

Here’s to thee my honest friend,

Wishing these hard time to mend.

_____________________________

It is best to rise from life as from the banquet,

Neither thirsty nor drunken.

_____________________________

Love to one, friendship to many,

And good will to all.

_____________________________

May our faults be written on the seashore,

And every good action prove a wave to wash them out.

_____________________________

May the most you wish for be the least you get.

_____________________________

Here’s hoping that you live forever

And mine is the last voice you hear.

Willard Scott

Love Toasts

One drink is good.

Two at the most.

Three under the table.

Four under the host.

_____________________________

To our wives and sweethearts.

May they never meet.

_____________________________

Here’s to love and unity,

Dark corners and opportunity.

_____________________________

Here’s to the land we love and the love we land.

_____________________________

Here’s to the water,

Wishing it were wine

Here’s to you, my darling,

Wishing you were mine.

_____________________________

Hogamus Higamus

Men are Polygamous

Higamus, Hogamus

Women, Monogamous

_____________________________

Anniversary & Wedding Toasts

To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.

Mark Twain

Here’s to you both, a beautiful pair,

On the birthday of your love affair.

_____________________________

A toast to love and laughter and happily ever after.

_____________________________

Let anniversaries come and let anniversaries go—

But may your happiness continue on forever.

_____________________________

May the warmth of our affections

Survive the frosts of age.

_____________________________

To your coming anniversaries

May they be outnumbered only by your coming pleasures.

_____________________________

Don’t make love by the garden gate.

Love is blind but the neighbors ain’t!

_____________________________

The man or woman you really love will never grow old to you.

Through the wrinkles of time, through the bowed frame of years,

You will always see the dear face and feel the

Warm heart union of your eternal love.

Alfred A. Montapert

Happy marriages begin when we marry the one we love,

And they blossom when we love the one we married.

Sam Levenson

 Health and Happiness!

_____________________________

May their joys be as bright as the morning,

And their sorrows but shadows that fade.

May their joys be as deep as the ocean

And their misfortunes as light as the foam.

_____________________________

To Marriage: A community consisting of a master,

A mistress, and two slaves

Making in all, two.

_____________________________

May you grow old on one pillow.

_____________________________

Grow old with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life,

For which, the first is made.

Robert Browning

Love does not consist in gazing at each other,

But in looking outward in the same direction.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

To my wife, my bride and joy.

_____________________________

May we all be present at their Golden Wedding  Anniversary.

_____________________________

May the saddest days of your future,

be only as sad as the happiest days of your past.

The Impromptu Talk by Steve Rapson

There are three types of talks: Mortimer Adler identifies them as The Impromptu Talk, The Sales Talk, and The Lecture.  I analyzed Shakespeare’s We Happy Few as a great sales (motivational) talk.  Now, for your amusement and edification, I’ll dissect the Impromptu Talk

An impromptu talk is informal, often unrehearsed, and brief. It could be a toast, a few words from the boss, a bowling trophy acceptance speech. It’s the kind of talk we all make once in a while. And it’s the kind of talk most of us try to avoid, and often wish others would avoid. It does not inform or instruct. It does not intend to persuade or motivate. Its purpose is mainly social. If it is entertaining, all the better.

If the speech you are about to give is truly impromptu, then you may not know the subject you are going to speak on until a few minutes beforehand. If you are forewarned, it’s called an extemporaneous talk. It may look impromptu, but you are forearmed and prepared sufficiently speak off the cuff.  Like Mark Twain.

Mark Twain, America’s great storyteller, was afflicted with stage fright early in his career. He survived his first appearance and went on to successfully command the stage for fifty years.

Twain’s writing is classic literature. His speaking skills we cannot know directly. However, he was a legend at a time when public speakers were the poor man’s theatre. Twain sold out where ever he went. He made them laugh. He made them cry. His talks often appeared impromptu and casual, as does this one given on the occasion of his daughter’s singing debut. He attended her recital and afterwards addressed the audience about his own stage debut.

This speech, Mark Twain’s First Appearance, was given on October 5, 1906. The speech is barely five minutes long, but a lifetime of preparation and experience created a piece that is timely and entertaining a hundred years later.

Mark Twain’s First Appearance

My heart goes out in sympathy to anyone who is making his first appearance before an audience of human beings. By a direct process of memory I go back forty years, less one month—for I’m older than I look.

I recall the occasion of my first appearance. San Francisco knew me then only as a reporter. And I was to make my bow to San Francisco as a lecturer. I knew that nothing short of compulsion would get me to the theater. So I bound myself by a hard-and-fast contract so that I could not escape. I got to the theater forty-five minutes before the hour set for the lecture. My knees were shaking so that I didn’t know whether I could stand up. If there is an awful, horrible malady in the world, it is stage fright—and seasickness. They are a pair. I had stage fright then for the first and last time. I was only seasick once, too. It was on a little ship on which there were two hundred other passengers. I—was—sick. I was so sick that there wasn’t any left for those other two hundred passengers.

It was dark and lonely behind the scenes in that theater, and I peeked through the little peek holes they have in theater curtains and looked into the big auditorium. That was dark and empty, too. By and by it lighted up, and the audience began to arrive.

I had got a number of friends of mine, stalwart men, to sprinkle themselves through the audience armed with big clubs. Every time I said anything they could possibly guess I intended to be funny, they were to pound those clubs on the floor. Then there was a kind lady in a box up there, also a good friend of mine, the wife of the governor. She was to watch me intently, and whenever I glanced toward her she was going to deliver a gubernatorial laugh that would lead the whole audience into applause.

At last I began. I had the manuscript tucked under a United States flag in front of me where I could get at it in case of need. But I managed to get started without it. I walked up and down—I was young in those days and needed the exercise—and talked and talked.

Right in the middle of the speech I had placed a gem. I had put in a moving, pathetic part, which was to get at the hearts and souls of my hearers. When I delivered it, they did just what I hoped and expected. They sat silent and awed. I had touched them. Then I happened to glance up at the box where the governor’s wife was—you know what happened.

Well, after the first agonizing five minutes, my stage fright left me, never to return. I knew if I was going to be hanged I could get up and make a good showing, and I intend to. But I shall never forget my feelings before the agony left me, and I got up here to thank you for helping my daughter, by your kindness, to live through her first appearance. And I want to thank you for your appreciation of her singing, which is, by the way, hereditary.

Mark Twain’s little talk is so flawlessly constructed one can hardly notice he has used several devices, “tricks” if you will, to engage the audience, keep their attention, and win them over. He avoids common speech-making errors we all are prone to.

You might think it was easy for Mark Twain, an American literary and platform legend in the autumn of his years to win over an audience. But I think you will agree he did not need his fame to succeed with this speech. If this were our talk to give, you or I could have done nearly as well with a little practice. Great words make for a great speech. A great speech starts with preparation: research, writing, re-writing, and practice.

We’ll analyze the speech see what makes it great.

First, he opens with a reference to someone other than himself, gets to his topic immediately, and ends with a mild self-deprecating quip designed to get a quick laugh. It’s all done in forty words.

My heart goes out in sympathy to anyone who is making his first appearance before an audience of human beings. By a direct process of memory I go back forty years, less one month—for I’m older than I look.

He follows this tight intro with nuts and bolts material. Who, What, Where, & When. Each sentence is dense with information, and could have served as the topic sentence for a paragraph devoted to it. This is the way pros move things along. They provide information that creates a feeling of, “Interesting, tell me more…” in the listener. What is left unsaid is as important as what is said. Similarly in music it’s the note you don’t play that contributes to the appeal of a piece. People don’t like it when someone drones on in excruciating detail that numbs them into dull submission and inattention. Twain avoids over explaining.

I recall the occasion of my first appearance. San Francisco knew me then only as a reporter, and I was to make my bow to San Francisco as a lecturer. I knew that nothing short of compulsion would get me to the theatre. So I bound myself by a hard-and-fast contract so that I could not escape. I got to the theatre 45 minutes before the hour set for the lecture. My knees were shaking so that I didn’t know whether I could stand up. If there is an awful, horrible malady in the world, it is stage fright—and seasickness. They are a pair. I had stage fright then for the first and last time. I was only seasick once, too.

Using a kind of simile, he pairs seasickness and stage fright. It is a common speech device. Early filmmakers applied it as well. They found that if they followed scene one with any scene two, the audience would connect them no matter how unrelated. Our brains automatically create order out of randomness. Twain connects stage fright and seasickness by saying he suffered both only once. He does this to set up a gag:

It was on a little ship on which there were two hundred other passengers. I—was—sick. I was so sick that there wasn’t any left for those other two hundred passengers.

He gets a laugh with an anecdote he probably has included in hundreds of speeches on as many subjects. In about a minute, Twain has gotten two laughs, endeared himself to the crowd, and shown himself to be humble and as susceptible to the trials of living as anyone. Having won them over with his ethos, he proceeds with the story.

It was dark and lonely behind the scenes in that theater, and I peeked through the little peek holes they have in theater curtains and looked into the big auditorium. That was dark and empty, too. By and by it lighted up, and the audience began to arrive.

Once again, the story moves quickly. He uses short declarative sentences, a trademark of good storytellers. The plot thickens.

I had got a number of friends of mine, stalwart men, to sprinkle themselves through the audience armed with big dubs. Every time I said anything they could possibly guess I intended to be funny, they were to pound those clubs on the floor.

Next, Twain plants the seed for a classic comedic technique: The callback.

Then there was a kind lady in a box up there, also a good friend of mine, the wife of the governor. She was to watch me intently, and whenever I glanced toward her she was going to deliver a gubernatorial laugh that would lead the whole audience into applause.

For a callback to work time must elapse, he continues:

At last I began. I had the manuscript tucked under a United States flag in front of me where I could get at it in case of need. But I managed to get started without it. I walked up and down—I was young in those days and needed the exercise—and talked and talked.

Here’s the set-up for the call back

Right in the middle of the speech I had placed a gem. I had put in a moving, pathetic part, which was to get at the hearts and souls of my hearers. When I delivered it, they did just what I hoped and expected. They sat silent and awed. I had touched them.

Now comes the call back or pay-off. Twain avoids beating them over the head with it. He talks up to his audience, presuming they are with him.

Then I happened to glance up at the box where the governor’s wife was—you know what happened.

Twain wraps up with a three-line summary, offers sincere thanks, and leaves them laughing with a nicely structured gag: the laugh cannot occur until his final word.

Well, after the first agonizing five minutes, my stage fright left me, never to return. I know if I was going to be hanged I could get up and make a good showing, and I intend to. But I shall never forget my feelings before the agony left me, and I got up here to thank you for helping my daughter, by your kindness, to live through her first appearance. And I want to thank you for your appreciation of her singing, which is, by the way, hereditary.

Here are the keys to Mark Twain’s impromptu speech:

 The Intro

•  Acknowledge the audience.

•  Say specifically, briefly, what you are talking about.

•  Make them laugh.

 The Middle

•  Move it along.

•  Leave things out. Do not explain everything.

•  Use rhetorical devices:  examples, compare & contrast, self- deprecating humor, callbacks, similes.

The End

•  Say it again in as few lines as you can.

•  Say thanks.

•  Make them laugh.

The key to an effective impromptu talk is that is it is not really impromptu. Very few people can speak “off the cuff” effectively. The phrase “off the cuff” refers to the notes one would scribble on a sleeve when called at the last minute to speak before a group.

I have been called upon to speak at the last minute, and I did indeed write notes on a napkin minutes before getting up. Although the audience was entertained, it would have been better if I had anticipated and prepared in advance.

If you speak regularly, then you already have several “bits” that you can pull out at the last minute to spice up your hastily composed remarks. If you have never spoken before, you must think ahead. How likely is it that you will be called upon to say a few words? If there is any chance, then make some notes before you get there.

If you model your impromptu talk after Mark Twain’s First Appearance, you’ll be prepared, interesting, and brief. A hat trick in public speaking.

__________________________________________

Steve Rapson is the author of the Art of the SoloPerformer: A Field Guide To Stage & Podium. He is a songwriter and solo guitarist with several CD’s in release.  www.soloperformer.com


Listen Up by Steve Rapson

Most people don’t, won’t, or can’t listen. Especially in social situations. They are too busy thinking about what they will say when that other person stops talking. I used to be so afflicted. Through years of practice I have nearly overcome my non-listening ways.

I have learned to practice active listening when conversing with others. When it is my turn to talk, I show that I heard them by referring to what they have said. And since I want them to hear me as well, I try to be entertaining and succinct. A good conversation is like a game of volley ball: you can hit the ball once, twice, up to three times on your side, but then you have to hit it back. Every game has rules and some are unspoken.

So I practice listening. And when I read why listening is important, I am motivated to do more of it, better. Here is an excerpt on the subject:

Strength to Your Sword Arm: Selected Writings

by Brenda Ueland

…I want to write about the great and powerful thing that listening is. And how we forget it. And how we don’t listen to our children, or those we love.  And least of all — which is so important too — to those we do not love. But we should. Because listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. 

Think how the friends that really listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius as though it did us good, like ultraviolet rays. This is the reason: When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life. You know how if a person laughs at your jokes you become funnier and funnier, and if he does not, every tiny little joke in you weakens up and dies.

Well, that is the principle of it. It makes people happy and free when they are listened to. And if you are a listener, it is the secret of having a good time in society (because everybody around you becomes lively and interesting), of comforting people, of doing them good. Who are the people, for example, to whom you go for advice?  Not to the hard, practical ones who can tell you exactly what to do, but to the listeners; that is, the kindest, least censorious, least bossy people that you know. It is because by pouring out your problem to them, you then know what to do about it yourself…

Ms. Ueland’s article continues for several insightful pages. I found it powerful and motivating. Perhaps you will as well. You’ll find the entire PDF file here: Tell Me More

As I become more mindful of what it takes to listen to others, I see how hard it is for any of us to do it. You may find amusing a couple of experiences I have had in this arena.

A few years ago, Rosemary and I met a couple for dinner. It was a getting to know you session and I said to Rosemary as we drove to the restaurant, “Let’s play a game with our new friends. We won’t tell anything about ourselves unless they ask us a direct question.  And, if they do ask, we’ll answer in two or three sentences and then ask another question about them.”

“Sounds like fun,” she said.

“It’s fun to see who passes the five minute test,” I said.

“What’s that?” Rosemary asked.

“When you meet someone new,” I explained, “If they haven’t asked about you within five minutes, they failed the test.”

“Well, that’s not very nice,” she said, “To subject people to a test they don’t know about.”

“It hardly works if you tell them,” I said, “Besides we’re so fascinating I’m sure they’ll want to know all about us.”

You may not believe this, but we spent two hours at dinner with this very nice couple and we never once said a thing about ourselves: our home, jobs, hobbies, travels… we never even mentioned our high achieving children. Though we heard all about theirs. We heard everything about them in great detail. But because we waited to be asked about ourselves, to have the ball hit to our side of the net, we never got to play. And these people were high level types.  He was a top sales rep for a Fortune 50 company; she ran her own home based business.

Rosemary was astounded. It was her first experience with mindful social conversation. She told me it required all her effort to not tell about her own terrific children in response to hearing about theirs.  We were not asked, we did not tell.

We weren’t ignored. We never got the chance to be ignored.

I don’t like to be ignored. Who does?  So I have built conversational defense mechanisms to help avoid it. If I meet someone who needs to talk more than listen, I am happy to be their listener. (Not that happy, perhaps, but better than being ignored). Especially as others have been a listener for me when that’s what I needed most. Although I prefer a back and forth according to the rules, I can talk or listen as the situation reveals.

Sometimes I misread the social dynamic, and am punished for it.

An acquaintance of mine, let’s call him Gabby, was performing at a local venue recently. He is a fine musician. In the past we have consulted, formally, about how he might break through to the next level as an entertainer. At that consulting session I learned Gabby was not interested in listening to me, but rather, in me listening to him. So that’s what I did. After much listening on my part, Gabby asked me how much he owed me for the session. How could I take any money? I am not a licensed therapist. So I said a big piece of fruit pie would be sufficient. Besides, his wife was most charming and a great listener. Even better, she laughed at all my little gags.

Back to the venue. Armed with the knowledge that Gabby is listening challenged, I was prepared to be monosyllabic whenever I saw him socially. I was disarmed, however, when he asked about my recent cross-country trip.

Since I had done gigs around the country and sold out of all my books and CD’s, I thought Gabby might actually have an interest on how I did this. So I began to talk about it. In less than fifteen seconds (I am not exaggerating here) Gabby turned to the man on his left to comment on the new instrument he was holding. They began conversing about it, and drifted away from me.

I was annoyed with myself. I was tricked into talking to a non-listener, especially since I knew him to be a non-listener. The trick by the way is that he asked about me. Few of us are immune to that. Non-listeners never ask about you. If they do, it is to set themselves up to talk about themselves.

Most people, even non-listeners, have the social skills to gracefully exit a conversation, thus allowing you to save a little face. Gabby did not. I was caught open-mouthed and abandoned in mid-sentence. A most awkward position. And I amplified the situation by presuming Gabby would eventually drift back in my direction. Wrong again. So, I stood there far too long with fading smile, waiting for him to attend my fascinating story about which he had asked (and had heard but a few seconds of). But not to be. Gabby was off to another conversation, as I dangled in a social no man’s land.

Gracefully and unobtrusively–I hoped–I sidled off to another part of the room: embarrassed, annoyed, and more determined to not get caught flapping my jaw at Gabby again. Further, I did not listen to his concert. Like a spoiled boy with hurt feelings–quite true–I sat outside and played my guitar during his set.

Later that night, I was sitting with his charming wife, a great listener as I mentioned. Gabby joined us. Here I committed an obvious error of omission: I did not say, “Great set, Gabby!”  Which is de rigueur at these events.

My omission, of course, was intentional. My feelings were hurt and I uncharitably wanted to hurt back. I suspect my gaffe did not go unnoticed. It is probable that on the way home Gabby said to his wife something like, “Gee, Steve seemed unhappy about something.” Whereupon his wife, no fool, and knowing her husband well, probably said, “Did you do something to annoy him?”  This might have prompted Gabby to review the evening. No fool himself, he sent me the following note a week later:

Steve, I keep meaning to apologize to you for cutting you off in 
the middle of what promised to be a very interesting description 
of your amazing cross-country trip...I'm not quite sure how that 
happened but I am sure that it felt very odd to me at the time. 
At any rate, I really did want to hear about your trip and
still do. Please accept my apology for something that must have 
involved me in the heat of the moment. You have always been 
nothing less than generous with your time & efforts on my behalf 
whenever I have had questions and problems. I hope I didn't 
offend you.

Of course, I felt small and petty upon receiving this note.  I should have cut Gabby some slack, which I normally would do anyway.  My motto: forgive, forget and move on.  Especially since I have had much slack cut for me over the years. Seeing the high road is easier than taking it.  Though I continue to try.

The moral I take from these little social dramas is that we are all wrapped up with our own thoughts. We have busy minds and lives. It is only with the greatest concentration that we can come up for air and pay attention to the busy minds and lives of others. Listeners who can perform that little trick are sent by God to serve those of us who need it most.

I hope to pass your five minute test should ever we meet.

________________________________________________

Recommend Reading:

Tell Me More: On the Fine Art of Listening by Brenda Ueland

How To Speak, How To Listen by Mortimer Adler

_________________________________________________

Steve Rapson is the author of The Art of Soloperformer: A Field Guide to Stage & PodiumHe is a concert guitarist and song writer with several CDs in release.

We Happy Few – analysis by Steve Rapson

One of the Great Motivational Speeches of All Time

From Shakespeare’s Henry V

We have all heard motivational speakers. Perhaps we have given one or two ourselves. What makes for a great motivational speech?  One that fires us up and makes us want to get up and take action?

Great speaking starts with a great idea, then great writing, and finally great delivery. William Shakespeare, being the greatest writer in the English language, knows how to write a great speech.  And the formula for what makes one great is still valid today. So we’ll analyze one of his best and see what makes us want to get up and march.

“…We Happy Few…”

King Henry V inspires his troops to fight with him at the Battle of Angincort. You don’t have to imagine Shakespeare’s King Henry standing in the mud surrounded by his downcast men. Kenneth Branaugh’s film of Henry V is available on DVD. I recommend you watch it.

This is not to suggest you become a Shakespearean actor in order to give a motivational speech. But, as you watch the film and are caught up in the story, see if you are not moved, as I was, when the speech arrives. If you wish to give a good sales talk, it helps to know the ingredients of one of the best ever written. And it is absolutely necessary, I think, that you know how it feels to be on the receiving end of such a speech, however vicarious.  First read the speech, and then we’ll dissect it.

Henry V,  William Shakespeare Act IV, Scene III — (The English Camp)

WESTMORELAND: O, that we now had here
But
one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING: What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from
England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Among the ancient Greek orators Pericles admired the greater Demosthenes saying, “When Pericles speaks, the people say. How well he speaks; but when Demosthenes speaks the people say. Let us march!” Similarly, modem sales executives want to rally their sales force to “Sell, sell, sell!”

Generals and managers have tried every method to motivate human behavior. Greed and fear are popular substitutes for respect and loyalty. They are more easily engendered. And highly effective. In war, if you desert in the face of the enemy, you’ll be shot. In business, if you avoid tough selling situations for fear of rejection, you’ll get the ultimate rejection: You’re fired!

Through the ages, though, the human spirit succumbs most completely when plied with appeals to courage, brotherhood, sacrifice, and, most tantalizing, honor. The respect and admiration of others is most desirable. Once earned, honor is displayed with a badge, a plaque, a ribbon on meeting day, an honorable scar—or an employee-of-the month parking spot.

A leader can summon these images without much of a stretch if is to defend God and country. It is a bit tougher if you are extolling the troops to move eight percent more Pampers through Piggily Wiggly this year.

In either case, says Mortimer Adler, it’s a sales talk.  The purpose of a sales talk is to motivate people into action.

All good sales talks have these common elements in more or less the same order:

1.      As in all good speech, Get right to it. Say what you are talking about immediately. In selling, it is here you would answer the unasked question, “Why should I listen to you?”

2.      Establish your Ethos: your credibility, your right to speak with authority about what you want. Humor is a good way to start. Say again what you want in personal terms.

3.      Appeal to Pathos, the emotional component of your argument.  This is the refuge of most political speech. Humor works here as well.  Say your theme again, this time in emotional terms your audience can identify with. This is where Hot Button Sales types ply their trade. The more you know about your audience, the more targeted your appeal to Pathos.

4.      Appeal to logic or Logos. Why should they do what you ask? Here you appeal to the intellect. Logos is where you give clear reasons to act. What’s in it for them? Why should they march? Why should they buy? This is where your theme is now about them and what they want, rather than the way it was when you began: about you and what you want.

5.      Ask for the order. Your call for action: Can I write you up for a 100 to be delivered next week? Or in King Henry’s case, Will you shed blood with me today?

6.    Modern sales technique tells us that once you ask that closing question, you must wait for the answer. He who speaks first loses.  However, motivational speakers may continue, often wrapping up with a final appeal to Pathos.

Throughout this structure, speech makers use rhetorical devices, as King Henry does, to hang their ideas on. Go here to see a list of what they are and how to use them:  http://www.virtualsalt.com/rhetoric.htm

So, now let’s dissect Henry V’s famous speech (via Shakespeare’s pen) to reveal those elements that make it so good.  How is it constructed? What rhetorical devices does he use, in what order? How does the speech build to a conclusion that impels us to rise up and march…?

Here’s how…

WESTMORELAND: O, that we now had here but one in ten thousand of those men in England that do no work to-day!

Outnumbered five to one by the French, the Earl wishes they had reinforcements. Westmoreland’s remark is analogous to being introduced before you speak.

KING HENRY V: What’s he that wishes so? My cousin Westmorland? No, my fair cousin: If we are mark’d to die, we are enow to do our country loss; and if to live, the fewer men, the greater share of honour.

Here we have the main idea, the thrust of King Henry’s argument: If we are going to die in battle, then let’s not have our country lose any more men than are now committed. And his main point: If we live, well then, there’s all the more honor to go around for the few of us.

King Henry has been faithful to the first rule of great speech: Get right to the point. In fact, if we disregard his first words to Westmoreland, Henry says what he is about in the first sentence:

“…the fewer men, the greater share of honour.”

It is a great line, wry and darkly amusing, which satisfies another rule of great speech: Start with a laugh. If death is in the wings, then gallows humor is appropriate. Humor is a good way to establish your ethos, your credibility and likeability.

Building his ethos, King Henry continues to tell his men exactly how he values honor.

God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold. Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

It yearns me not if men my garments wear; such outward things dwell not in my desires:

But if it be a sin to covet honour, I am the most offending soul alive.

Here, King Henry has used three rhetorical devices: Repetition, contrast, and logic.

First, repetition: He says again, No more men!

Second, he gives examples using contrast. He demonstrates how he values honor by relating three things he does not value: I don’t care about money; I don’t care if you freeload meals at my house, or even if you wear my favorite suit.

Third, he uses simple logic—a conditional—in the form of an if/then statement. It forces a favorable judgment about himself in the minds of his men while appearing humble and self-effacing. It may be a sin to covet, but hardly a sin if the thing coveted is honor. He calls himself ‘an offending soul’, and allows his men to conclude he is not offensive, but honorable, and modest.

Mortimer Adler, citing Aristotle’s treatise on Rhetoric, says a great sales talk persuades in three ways: Ethos—How the audience feels about you, Pathos—How they feel about your idea, and Logos—What’s in it for them? The rationale: the benefits for taking your course of action.

First, he says, comes Ethos. This is where you establish your right to speak on a subject. Now if you are king, or the VP of Sales, or the top dog at some government agency, you may feel you can skip this step. And many do to the detriment of their cause. They skip right to why their idea is a good one without first formally establishing their credibility to speak on the topic. King Henry does not make this mistake. In fact, he expands on his commitment to the main idea, the fewer the men, the greater the honor. Even though he is King Henry V, he does not skimp on establishing his right to speak about honor in battle:

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:

God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour.

As one man more, methinks, would share from me

For the best hope I have.  O, do not wish one more!

So, now, can there be any doubt that King Henry values honor above all else? That he has the right to speak passionately about it? That there just might be a silvery lining to being outnumbered five to one?

Honor in life, honor in death. A win-win situation. Actually, nowhere does the king say there is honor if you die, but it is reasonable to assume there will be a little bit of honor saved for those who do.

King Henry now moves on to Pathos. He wants to move the men, to make them feel as he does about honor. Pathos is the “Mom and apple pie” part of a sales talk. He puts them in the picture, but goes about it in a sneaky way.

Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through my host,

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,

Let him depart; his passport shall be made

And crowns for convoy put into his purse:

We would not die in that man’s company

That fears his fellowship to die with us.

For the second time, the king uses contrast. He describes in detail the opposite of his true aim, which is for his men to fight against overwhelming odds. So, in direct opposition to his goal, King Henry orders the Earl to spread the word, saying, in effect:

“…If you don’t want to fight and die with us, fine, we don’t want the company of cowards such as you, either. You can go, and here’s a pass and some money for the trip!”

This is an amusing spin on the main idea. For implicit in his request that “…he which hath no stomach to this fight” should leave, is his premise ‘the fewer the men, the greater the honor’. A great speech has one idea illustrated several ways. Contrast and compare, give examples, as your high school English teacher said.

King Henry is sticking to one point: The fewer men, the greater share of honor. He has introduced no extraneous ideas, no side issues. He has one idea, and is coming at it from all sides.

He moves on what Aristotle called Logos: the appeal to the rational mind.

First, he established credibility, his Ethos, to move his men to believe:

“Yes, my King, you are a credible proponent of honor, you have the right to speak in it.”

Then he appealed to Pathos, the emotional side of his men:

“Yes, we see the value in honor—above money, food, or clothing; and what a scurvy knave is he who does not want it. For what is a man without honor?  And we see there is plenty of honor to go around for the few of us.”

But what’s in it for us if we gain this honor? Logos persuades via concrete examples, imagery, and anecdotes.  King Henry describes benefits that will accrue to those who choose honor and survive the day. He gives three examples with vivid pictures of what is in it for them. He tells them what it will be like when the objective is achieved.

There is a logic to Logos, however sketchy, that follows from Ethos and Pathos. Indeed, the logos part of a motivational sales talk works best when not bogged down with too much whereas and therefore. Best to be pithy and right to the point—show the end without too much dwelling on the means. King Henry does this brilliantly.

First, you will be proud of yourself:

This day is called the feast of Crispian:

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,

Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,

And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

Second, while you live, others will annually acknowledge your honor. They will see and admire the evidence: your wounds and medals. (Note the repetition and theme re-statement of … he who lives.)

He that shall live this day, and see old age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.

And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day. ‘

Third, you shall not be forgotten. When you are old, and finally die, your name will be spoken in the same breath as the king and his nobles with whom you fought. Your story will be re-told father to son. Your memory shall be immortal.

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,

But he‘ll remember with advantages

What feats he did that day: then shall our names,

Familiar in his mouth as household words Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,

Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,

Be in their flowing cups freshly remember‘d.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne‘er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember‘d;

In conclusion: Be brief. Be powerful. Use callback, paraphrase, repetition, alliteration:  the big guns of language…

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

Here King Henry has summarized his main idea in one lyric phrase. It is a masterpiece of summation brevity, yet laden with meaning and emotion. We few—the fewer men, the greater share of honor. We happy few—happy there are so few to share such bountiful honor. We band of brothers—King, lords, officers, and soldiers all equal, all to share equally in the honor, the medals and the immortality of your name spoken along with the King and nobles. Where’s my sword?!

And the call to action.

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne‘er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition:

What to do? Shed blood with the king. Be brother to the king. In so doing, rise above your station.

Finally, leave them laughing when you go. King Henry is about to end with a final appeal to pathos—the emotions—designed to garner a rueful smile. Start with humor, end with humor. With the exception of eulogies to war dead, ‘leave them laughing’ is the best technique to win the day—notwithstanding that speeches to those about to become war dead might benefit from a stiff shot of humor.

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Let us march!

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Steve Rapson is the author of The Art of the SoloPerformer: A Field Guide to Stage & Podiumwww.soloperformer.com