Ninety-eight years ago, William Jennings Bryan wrote:
The age of oratory has not passed; nor will it pass…. As long as there are human rights to be defended; as long as there are great interests to be guarded; as long as the welfare of nations is a matter for discussion, so long will public speaking have its place.
It is irrefutable that public speaking shall always have its place. However, it is indisputable that in the ensuing century since William Jennings Bryan wrote those words, the "age of oratory" has experienced significant change. Bryan also wrote, "The press, instead of displacing the orator, has given him a larger audience and enabled him to do a more extended work." Yet, it is precisely because "the press" has changed that oratory has changed as well. The press that Bryan referred to was solely a print medium; in 1906, radio was still in its infancy and television would not arrive for another four decades.
As radio, television, and other media evolved, so did oratory. Today's orators, who frequently depend on the media of electronic mass communication, must speak differently than orators of a century ago. Today's orators must be more concise. Though clarity was, and still is, a primary communication goal, today's orators must include an added dimension: brevity. As author Roger Ailes wrote, "Today we're all tuned to receive information much more quickly, and we get bored in a hurry if things slow down. The video age has sped up our cognitive powers."
Unquestionably, today's audiences listen differently. Therefore, today's oral communicators must speak differently. In the pages that follow, Dr. Brad McRae and David Brooks have written a definitive guide for 21st-century speakers. This book will serve as an invaluable reference for those who wish to understand the techniques, methods, and strategies that enable today's orators to be effective when speaking to today's increasingly impatient listeners.
As an Irishman, I come from a land steeped in a history of eloquence. As a Toastmaster, I respect those who speak with precision and purpose. Consequently, I revere those whose finely framed words delight the ears, challenge the intellect, and stir the soul. With The Seven Strategies of Master Presenters you will learn what Mark Twain meant when he wrote, "Lord, what an organ is human speech when it is played by a Master."
President, Toastmasters International 2003–2004
Bryan, William Jennings. The World's Famous Orations. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1906.
Ailes, Roger with Jon Kraushar. You Are the Message. New York: Doubleday, 1988.
Twain, Mark. From a speech titled, The Babies, given in 1879. This particular speech can also be found in a book titled Mark Twain's Speeches. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.