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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 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
expenses for Oct 2006
General Fund as at 1st Oct 2006
to-date (20th Oct)
*This does not include interest-free loan of $100K received.
forward to Nov 2006
for Nov to Dec 2006
Balance to raise
for the rest of 2006
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