Good books

The Art of Public Speaking
Author: Stephen E. Lucas (1995)
Publisher: Random House
(fifth edition), 468pp
Review by Rev Ng Seng Chuan

A good book, indeed! One of the best. You can tell this by the fact of the book being in its fifth edition. [Actually, the latest is that the book is in its 7th edition!] The Art of Public Speaking is a standard American college textbook on public speaking.

Why this review? I own a third (1989) edition. I once taught a course on public speaking using this as a basic text, and students have appreciated the book and felt it should have been better known. BGST library just got hold of a copy of its fifth edition. With a revised publication date like 1995, you might think it’s a dinosaur!

Precisely. Dinosaurs are huge, as is this book in terms of depth and coverage. Walk into any bookshop and pick up a book of public speaking. Few come even close in terms of comprehensiveness or lucidity.

In the book collection hobby, you really do get what you are willing to pay for. This one is worth paying for! And if it’s beyond your budget, the good news is this – you can borrow it from the BGST library.

The book comes in five parts.

Part One covers the basic principles of speaking and listening. It deals with the importance of understanding the processes of communication at work in this business of oral data transfer. Speaking is not about talking. It is about succeeding at getting a message across. We might have spoken. But have we communicated? The chapter on listening far exceeds its presumed value. To be an effective speaker, you do need to understand how people listen! A new chapter in the Fifth Edition expands on a previously smaller section on ethical speaking. The importance of this need only be highlighted by the fact that less than charitable sentiments have been expressed from some of our own pulpits in Singapore.

Part Two launches into the business of audience analysis and the research for ideas. For preachers, it is important to ask for demographic profiles of the congregations to which you would be addressing. There is, of course, the usual introductory chapter in this section on the need to state your general and/or specific purpose and central idea. My guess is that not a few preachers would have difficulty stating the essence of their sermon in one clean, clear and crisp sentence. In American style public speaking education, you do have to be able to do that to demonstrate your mastery of the content on which you plan to expand in the delivery.

Part Three deals with organization of ideas. No earth-shaking illumination here. Just very commonsense techniques that would be good for preacher to acquire. What might they be? In the language of public speaking instruction, they are things like preview statements, transitional statements and summary statements. In other words, tell them what you are going to say, tell them where you are in relation to the previous point, and tell them at the end what you have just said. If we did those few things more conscientiously, the words of truth we have laboured to impart would have a better chance of being implanted in the hearts and minds of those to whom we minister.

Part Four presents the usual tips on delivery pertaining to language use, vocal variety and audio visual aids. What I was looking out for in this section was Lucas’ elucidation on power-point presentations. There was only half a page on computer-generated graphics (p.300). I’m a little disappointed only because power-point presentation is now the predominant style. And my suspicion is that power-point, far from being a useful visual aid as commonly supposed, in fact hinders truly effective and dynamic person-to-person speech communication.

In the final Part Five, Lucas covers the key genres of informative and persuasive speaking. “Methods of persuasion” is a new chapter on its own, elaborating a previously smaller section under “persuasive speaking”.

Bear in mind that this is a secular college textbook on public speaking. Much of what we find are not even touched upon in a standard divinity programme. But there is so much here that Christian preachers and teachers can benefit from in making the truths of God stick in the minds of people.

I remember an axiom people used to love spewing back in those days in the 1980s when I studied at Regent College. “All truth is God’s truth.” You could certainly say that concerning the truths in communication theory that one could pick up in Stephen Lucas’ The Art of Public Speaking.


NEWS BITS

 

Alumnus Lewis Liew (Grad. Dip. 2004, MCS 2005). Congratulations to Lewis on his ordination as Deacon at St. Andrew’s Cathedral on Nov 5. He is serving at St. John’s-St Margaret’s.


CHAPEL NOTES
 

Chapel on 1 November 2006

David Chan, a BGST alumnus, and coordinator of the "Alpha in the Workplace" programme spoke at chapel today.

David shared with us some of the exciting developments on evangelism in the marketplace arena. The Alpha course, which had originally been developed as a tool for church based evangelism, has since 2003 been transplanted to the workplace.

The programme has met with a surprisingly favourable response. It has, since its inception, been held in as wide and diverse locations as multi-national corporations, factories and restaurants. Workplace Alpha has also spread to other major cities in Asia, notably Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing, Taipei and Tokyo.

Chapel ended with a brief question-and-answer session. The speaker closed with attributing his contribution to this work to his training at BGST, not least of which were courses he took with Professor Paul Stevens relating to marketplace ministry. He also expressed the hope of having local churches enter into this partnership with Alpha, "empowering and equipping workplace workers" and "receiving the harvest" in return for that investment in this partnership.

(As summarized by Ng Seng Chuan)
 

BGST GENERAL FUND UPDATE

Operating expenses for Oct 2006

$ 53,590

Balance in General Fund as at 1st Oct 2006

$ 41,521

Funds received to-date (20th Oct)
*This does not include interest-free loan of $100K received.

$ 19,425

Balance brought forward to Nov 2006

$ 7,356

Total Budgetted Operating Expenses
for Nov to Dec 2006

$144,480

Balance to raise for the rest of 2006

$137,124

 


A Blessed Birthday to ... 
 



Ms Chan Young Young 13/11

Mr Lee Kok Wah 14/11

Ms Chrisa Goh 14/11

Mr Raymond Poh 15/11

Mr Tan Poh Tee 15/11

Mr Richard Yew 16/11

Ms Cherine Tan 17/11

Mr Peter Yeo 17/11

Mr Lim Chin Choon 17/11

 

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