Principles of Public Speaking
eBook - ePub

Principles of Public Speaking

Kathleen German

Share book
272 pages
ePUB (mobile friendly)
Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Principles of Public Speaking

Kathleen German

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

Balancing skills and theory, this introductory public speaking textbook encourages the reader to see public speaking as a way to build community in today's diverse world.

Within a framework that emphasizes speaker responsibility, listening, and cultural awareness, this classic book uses examples from college, workplace, political, and social communication to make the study of public speaking relevant, contemporary, and exciting. This new edition includes expanded coverage of mediated speaking with examples from podcasts and online speaking contexts; discussion of ethical issues of contemporary public discourse, including disinformation and public civility; and tips for extemporaneous speaking.

This textbook is ideal for general courses on public speaking as well as specialized programs in business, management, political communication, and public affairs.

A companion website including an instructor's manual containing discussion questions, exercises, quiz questions, and suggestions for syllabus design is available at

Frequently asked questions
How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Principles of Public Speaking an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Principles of Public Speaking by Kathleen German in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Commerce & Réunions et présentations. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.




Contemporary society is millennia away from the origins of public discourse in classical Greece and Rome, yet we value oral communication, much as they did thousands of years ago. In fact, we communicate in ways never imagined even a century ago. Television and radio offer 24/7 news channels, sitcoms, and prime-time shows with their banter and argument. Also, the internet allows information to reach people around the world almost instantaneously; you probably spend much of your time texting, emailing, and IMing. Groups gather online to talk about every conceivable topic. Oral communication dominates even in the world of electronic culture.
What you learn in this book about public speaking will also apply to email, text messaging, e-groups, social media, and chat rooms. Part One asks you to understand public speaking as much more than standing in front of a group of people. Public speaking is the essence of what it means to be a public person. It’s what the Greeks and Romans called “rhetoric.” (Check it out at:

Public Speaking in a Civil Society



In your public speaking class, you’ll have the opportunity to engage other students while you strengthen your communication skills. Together, you can encourage each other and grow as public speakers. At first, the prospect of speaking in public might seem scary, and you’ll probably make a few mistakes. That’s natural, too. With the support of your classmates and your instructor, you’ll learn how to channel your natural feelings of anxiety in positive directions so you appear poised and confident.
Here are some good reasons for enrolling in a public speaking class in higher education:
  • Your speech classroom is a laboratory: an ideal place for developing new skills. Tell a story in the conclusion, use PowerPoint or the web to make visual aids, or deliver a speech from in front of, rather than behind, a lectern. Your speech classroom is a comparatively safe environment for experimentation.
  • Take advantage of classroom practice to improve your speaking skills. Practicing public speaking is every bit as important as practicing musical instruments, soccer formations, or job interviews. You can’t just read about speaking and then do it well. Just like any other skill, speaking improves through the process of practice: in the privacy of your own room, in front of friends who are willing to humor you, in other classes, and of course, in your speech classroom. To improve your skills, get feedback wherever you can.
  • Work on your critical listening skills as well. In your lifetime, you’ll be exposed to thousands upon thousands of public messages in the form of speeches, classroom pitches, television ads, and social media. Practice in listening—trying to accurately comprehend and fairly evaluate what others say publicly—hones skills that are equally as important as speaking skills.
  • Learn to evaluate the speeches of others. You can use this book as a tool for analyzing speeches you hear in person, access electronically, or find in print. As you critically review the speeches of others, you’ll begin to notice techniques that work and others that fail. You can adapt strategies that have succeeded for other speakers. Ultimately, by practicing, listening, and evaluating other speakers, you will develop and refine the skills that will make you a more productive and successful member of society.
Speech training has been an important part of a liberal arts education since Isocrates made it central to his training of the orator–statesmen of fourth-century BCE Greece:
Studying communication helps you become a more critical consumer of the messages you receive through various media every day.
The study of human speech is a record of eloquent expressions of the human spirit. The greatest examples of public speaking endure well past the time and place they were given: Pericles’s funeral oration in 427 BCE over the dead of the Peloponnesian War; Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in 1863, soon after Sojourner Truth’s identification of black women’s problems with those of white women in “Ain’t I a Woman?”; and Mahatma Gandhi’s message of nonviolent resistance in India, inspiring Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the Washington Monument in 1963. Public speaking is about more than you and your problems. In times of crisis and public doubt, it is about the human condition. You take courses in public speaking to improve your self-confidence and sense of personal empowerment, of course, but also so you can contribute to society. We begin by looking at the role of orality in social–political life.


So, then, you might ask, “Why all the stress on public speaking, on oral communication?” You’re literate. You can write a letter or email, or call or text someone on your cell phone. You can participate in a blog or chat room with other people who have the same interests that you do, bring up a podcast, or even email your congressional representative. And then there are radio and television call-in programs, minicams for making movies that you can distribute electronically, fax machines, and on and on. So why do presidents still give televised speeches, teachers still offer classroom lectures, business teams still make oral presentations, and lawyers still make opening and closing courtroom speeches?
There’s something essentially, engagingly, powerfully human about speaking publicly to others. That’s it, period. As far back as we can trace history, human beings have built their relationships with others—from parents to politicians—through face-to-face talk. As you speak, your movements, vocal tones of sadness or excitement, bodily tensions, and facial displays are directly accessible to those who watch and listen. Edward Hall argued almost 60 years ago that the “biological roots” of “all culture” could be found in speech.2
It is through words that you act on others: calling them (“Hey you!”), singling them out (“Come here, Marty!”), and recognizing their group identity (“Go Big Red!”). In past years, the battle cry “Remember the Alamo!” roused Texans to fight Santa Anna’s Mexican army. Today, we recall the events that took place in 2001 when we say “Remember 9/11.” These words provide a reason for listeners to act together in particular ways.
What makes face-to-face, oral communication so important to groups? Media theorist Walter Ong has identified a series of characteristics of orality. These characteristics are shared by people who participate together in communication:
  • Speech tends to be integrative. Speech integrates members of a society by identifying the values that people share. Speeches assemble groups who come together for common purposes. A group’s traditional beliefs and values are usually reflected in public oral language.
  • Speech tends to be redundant. You often employ repetition, saying the same thing in more than one way to help people keep up with the flow of the conversation.
  • Speech tends ...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Principles of Public Speaking
APA 6 Citation
German, K. (2020). Principles of Public Speaking (20th ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from (Original work published 2020)
Chicago Citation
German, Kathleen. (2020) 2020. Principles of Public Speaking. 20th ed. Taylor and Francis.
Harvard Citation
German, K. (2020) Principles of Public Speaking. 20th edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
German, Kathleen. Principles of Public Speaking. 20th ed. Taylor and Francis, 2020. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.