Principles of Public Speaking

The View From Academia

There are eleven basic underlying principles of public speaking.

In academia, public speaking can be divided into classical or contemporary rhetoric. The principles of each type of speaking apply to public speaking in general.

Contemporary rhetoric (contemporary public speaking) is more diverse in its range. Contemporary speaking involves human discourse and how it works. This is the form most public speaking takes.

The Principles of Classical Rhetoric

    Classical rhetoric (classic public speaking) uses effective persuasion in public forums and institutions like the court system and assemblies such as the parliaments,congress and senate of governments. Classical rhetoric is defined by Cicero and the unknown author of Rhetorica ad Herennium as having five overlapping divisions or aspects of the rhetorical process:

    • inventio (heuristics), invention: enabling a person to discover or learn for themselves
    • dispositio (taxis), systematic arrangement of words, phrases, or expressions
    • elocutio (lexis), the style or way of using language
    • memoria (mneme), methods and devices to aid the audience to recall the talk
    • actio (hypocrisis), delivery or use of voice, gestures and body language to communicate

The Principles of Contemporary Rhetoric

    1 Ethical, Historical, and Social considerations of public speaking such as free speech issues.

    2. Audience Analysis and Needs as to if the talk was effect and or persuasive. (analyzing the audience, preparing the speech to appropriate to the needs of the audience such as age, sex, socio-economic traits, education, political and ethnic attitudes, available time, etc.)

    3. Topics and Purposes of Speeches appropriate.

    4. Structure/Organization of the introduction, body, and conclusion of the talk. There needs to be logical thought patterns, coherence and organization strategies.

    5. Content and Supporting Materials need to recognize and use evidence, argument, and reasoning to formulate logical, emotional, ethical, and credible appeals. The information needs to not only enter the mind, to be effective, it has to reach the heart or seat of emotion. (emotional intelligence)

    6. Research using references and information resources for the preparation of a speech.

    7. Language and Style appropriate for a public speech and appropriate for the audience. It needs to be age, education and socioeconomic specific.

    8. Delivery or articulation, use of voice (pace, pitch, power, modulation), pronunciation, and body language (gestures).

    9. Communication Apprehension: recognize, understand and control apprehension during the talk.

    10. Listening and Feedback techniques; obstacles to avoid; giving and responding to feedback. Also, how to deal with hecklers.

    11. Criticism and Evaluation of the effectiveness of a public speech. We need to be critiqued in order to be able to improve our skills as a speaker.

These are the underlying principles of public speaking based on academia.

At, we have a much simpler view. We hold that there are only three underlying principles or foundations of public speaking. We call these The Three Pillars of Public Speaking To be a holistic public speaker, there is a fourth pillar. Speaking from and to the heart.

Three Pillars of Public Speaking Voice, Verbalization, Visualization.

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