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Objectivism's Public Speakers

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My public speaking professor suggests that all speakers memorize their speech to encourage a feeling of interaction b/t speaker and audience. I agree with her, and am wondering why the speakers from AynRand.org don't memorize their speeches (I've viewed around seven total). Although philosophy and politics is highly abstract, I don't think that precludes the speakers from memorizing their speech. Thoughts?

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My public speaking professor suggests that all speakers memorize their speech to encourage a feeling of interaction b/t speaker and audience. I agree with her, and am wondering why the speakers from AynRand.org don't memorize their speeches (I've viewed around seven total). Although philosophy and politics is highly abstract, I don't think that precludes the speakers from memorizing their speech. Thoughts?

Are you talking about memorizing word for word or speaking from a mental outline (in a somewhat extemporaneous fashion)?

First off, most of the speeches I've heard from ARI were at OCON (and tapes of OCON), and they average over an hour in length. If you can point me to some examples of speeches of that kind being memorized, I'd sure love to see it. I can't even conceive of the idea. This is not common practice even in business settings. Most CEO's speak from written scripts when giving speeches of that length, as do most political figures.

Second, I do find that speaking from a mental outline can be an effective way of building a rapport, but if one is especially concerned with being very specific in the use of language it is not a good method. I favor this method, but usually my speaking does not require the exacting use of language that I would want from a philosophical topic.

Third, it takes much more time to rehearse an extemporaneous speech to get the outline worked into one's head, especially as the speech gets longer. Also, especially effective speakers can use a written script and deliver it so that it almost doesn't seem as if it is written.

Finally, I don't think that it is the rapport built that is as important as the exactness of the ideas communciated. If you can show me some research that indicates that a raport aids in recall, I'd could be persuaded. Also, rapport can be built during a questoin and answer period where the speaker will need to demonstrate that he can speak on the topic extemporaneously.

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I'm no expert on public speaking, but it seems pretty straightforward that the way you deliver a speech depends on the context. For example, it may be necessary to memorize a talk which is designed to be interactive, but to do so is not an advantage when delivering a speech like ARI speakers do, in which they read relatively long quotes from external works. Plus, the lectures given by ARI speakers are just that -- lectures. They don't ask the audience questions or get input along the way. I personally find this better suited to packing more content into a clearer presentation. And for me, the stress of giving an hour long lecture would be enough, let alone having to memorize every one of the many thousands of words that make it up.

Do you think that having a written speech is really that detrimental to such lectures?

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I've never given a memorized speech before, only extemporaneous ones from, potentially, a VERY sketchy outline, but I've never spoken in front of a large group that was only supposed to watch. Then again, I have the kind of memory where if I write down "remember to talk about points X, Y, and Z", I can rattle off every piece of information I wanted to cover perfectly well.

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I've never witnessed a literally memorized talk of any substantial duration. Now I will tell you that memorizing a speech is the second-least interactive-appearing way to talk (reading vebatim from notes on the podium is the least). More to the point, "appearing to be interactive" is evil. You should focus on the question "Why speak?". The purpose of public speaking is not to "interact", it is generally to inform and to persuade. Your professor seems to have forgotten that the "appearance of interactiveness" is just one method (and I would say a poor and fraudulent one) of achieving the real goal.

The teleprompter is a great gadget, though a bit high-tech for most purposes: it allows the speaker to present the carefully crafted arguments every efficiently, while allowing the speaker to give the speech in a lively, animated fashion. A memorized speech delivered in a halting monotone is probably the worst kind of speech -- memorization does not guarantee liveliness. The appearance of interaction when in fact there is none (you are delivering a lecture) is just plain annoying and a waste of time.

What matters most are time and complexity. When you have 20 minutes to deliver a very complicated argument, you should have a script and read the speech. When you have an hour to deliver a simple idea, you can do it extemporaneously. When reading a script, there are numerous things you have to do to make it not seem like you are reading a script.

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I should have clarified, but when I said "memorized" I was thinking more along the lines of an extemporaneous speech--a speech where the speaker either has a note card or a piece of paper left on the podium showing the speaker's general skeletal outline.

And with "encourage a feeling of interaction," I meant that the speaker would cater and mend his delivery based on the audience's responses. . .so if the audience seemed bored or non-responsive, he might throw in a joke or something.

With the speakers at AynRand.org, I usually find the delivery monotonous (the Q&As are always a treat though). The content is great and logically organized, but the delivery isn't very stimulating. If any of you have watched Tara Smith's recent lecture on "Justice," you may know what I mean. Her speech was informative, but from a speaker's perspective, if what a speaker wants to do is inform her audience of Justice, she must first have their attention.

Professional motivational speakers I've seen have an upbeat delivery while conveying an important message through extemporaneous speaking, and it just seems to me that even an informative speech on Justice would be better presented by that method.

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I've never witnessed a literally memorized talk of any substantial duration.

If you get a chance, listen to Dr. Martin Luther King jr’s recorded speeches. Wow. :D There are no breaks, no ums or ahhs, no re-tracing his points; Just deeply reasoned and well-constructed monolog. Listening to his delivery of a speech is incredible.

As I understand it he would give the same speech numerous times. I am not sure how precise his delivery was.

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