Monday, October 10, 2011
The Layman's History of Public Speaking
When did man first talk out loud to a group? Adam & Eve may not count as over on speaking unless you include the snake. The skill does date back to very the beginning of time though. Motivational public speaking was apparent as the early war leaders urged their troops to battle. While the barbarians didn't spend lots of time trying to improve their communication skills, they also didn't suffer public speaking panic assaults, but that is the only assault they didn't suffer from.
The art of public speaking was definitely not lost on the Egyptians & Greeks. They loved to pontificate in front of thousands of listeners who had no choice but to laugh at all of their public speaking jokes. In The united states, Abraham Lincoln received his public speaking training while chopping down trees. Yet they seldom was worse the wear for it, & everybody loved his down home approach to effective public speaking. Although no tapes exist for us to critique his delivery. So I think all of us agree that public speaking has been around for a long, long time. So when did they get so obsessed about it? That is a much better query, & far harder to answer.
The first books on public speaking skills date back to the mid 1800's. If self help books are any indication of popularity, then they could pick that date. However, there weren't lots of books back then, & they were very pricey, so that might not be the best answer. Prior to the mid 1800's, other than politicians, who would be publicly speaking anyway? You didn't need plenty of presentation skills to work in a factory, or farm a field. So when did people need & use communication skills, & have a actual interest in public speaking? The answer is the period between the 1900's & today. It was in the coursework of this period that our nation began to promote the use of sales & presentations, & this was the key factor to improving communication skills. Nothing makes you more interested in improving your communication skills than cold, hard money. With careers & jobs at stake for the first time, public speaking became an important skill after 1900.
In the event you read lots of public speaking books, as I do, you will notice that there is a positive tie between the theme of these books & the rise of our nation. As they become more of a business power, they also become more of a public speaking power. all of the public speaking self help books today originate in the U.S. Probably no nation in the world cares more about public speaking than our country.
So be proud that you are afraid of public speaking. The growth & power of the U.S. has caused your speaking anxiety, & they have only been working on how to cure this anxiety for about a century or so. In the event you lived in France, you would not have this issue. You could get better paella though.