There are probably as many methods of delivery as there are public speakers. Each orator has his own way of going about the business of delivering a talk. Whatever the method, the audience will want to discover it. In general, the audience will find out whether the speech is delivered from memory, from manuscript, or extempore; and, if the latter, whether the man spoke with or without notes. The orator’s notes, when obtainable, also throw light upon the total portrait of a speaker.
They give some hint as to the way in which ideas are integrated; how effectively the orator controls the details; and how he adapts a previously prepared plan to the exigencies of a particular audience situation. The orator’s own reflections on his method, when obtainable, are of real service. Some orators, for instance, use extempore method of ...view middle of the document...
Thus certain orators “looked their part”; prominently mentioned among them are Bryan, Chatham, Bright, La Follette, Webster, and Phillips.
The way an orator looks–the way he impresses his hearers as a physical specimen-is an accessory. Stephen Douglas was a short man, but his oratory was not correspondingly diminutive. And Edmund Burke “derived little or no advantage from his personal qualifications. He was tall, but not robust; his gait and gesture were awkward; his countenance, though intellectual, was destitute of softness, and rarely relaxed into a smile; and as he always wore spectacles, his eye gave him no command over an audience.”. Sir James Mackintosh says that Charles Fox gave an initial impression of being awkward, but after a time no one thought of anything except his ideas and the lucid simplicity with which he developed them. However, the audience may consider even the “nonessentials.” Oftentimes these “nonessentials” figure prominently in the judgments of men; and the audience can analyze the reason speeches do or do not take root in the hearers’ lives. In all probability, rhetorical effectiveness can be enhanced by the impress of a striking personality.
Observers of oratory look to such physical manifestations as grace of movement on the platform, facility in gesticulation, meaningful use of facial expression, and the effective use of the eyes as instruments of audience control. Relative to the latter, it may be observed that the rhetoricians have long considered the action of the eyes important in oratory. As the principal object of every public speaker must be to obtain the attention of his audience; so every circumstance which can contribute to this end must be considered important. In the external demeanour nothing will be found so effectually to attract attention, and detain it, as the direction of the eyes.