October 3, 2017

Paul Graham: Oratory and essay writing

Paul Graham – a famous American programmer and entrepreneur often reveals his secrets of success. One of them is the ability to correctly convey your thoughts. In addition, it is about oratorical art that will be discussed in his essay.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that I am a great speaker. I quite often say “emm” or “uh,” and sometimes I interrupt when I lose my mind. I really am sorry that my oratorical skills are not at a sufficiently high level. However, in general, I would rather like to be not a good speaker, but a good writer. In addition, in my opinion, what is really important is to have interesting ideas. In addition, this is more important for the writer than for the speaker.

Having interesting thoughts is more important for a good essay. If a person understands what he is talking about, he can say it in such simple words that his skills will gain a brilliant reputation. Nevertheless, with the speaker’s speeches all the way around: the availability of good ideas is the minimum part of the necessary.

For the first time these thoughts occurred to me during one of the conferences, a few years ago. One of the speakers who spoke there was much better than me. He made us literally roll on the floor with laughter, I, on the contrary, seemed awkward, and this literally pissed me off. After the conference, I usually put my speech on the Internet. Moreover, I kept trying to imagine what the person’s performance would look like. Only then, I realized that, in general, he did not say anything remarkable. Maybe someone would understand it even then, on the day of the performance, someone who knows more about public performances, but personally for me it was a discovery – how much less ideas in speeches than in articles.

Several years later, I heard someone’s speech, who was not just a better person, but also a really famous speaker. He was a great person! Therefore, I decided to pay more attention to his words and learn some skills. After I said about ten sentences, the first thought that arose in my head was: “No, thank you, I do not want to be a great speaker!”

However, the interesting ideas that come to mind in practice do not at all correlate with the status of a remarkable speaker. For example, before the performance, I usually write down the text in advance, although I know that this is a gross error, after all. It distracts me from the audience. The only sure way to win the trust of listeners is to give them all their attention, and not be torn between the audience and the recall of the text, even if it is memorized by heart. How to attract the attention of the audience? It is best to start with a preface about what you would like to tell, and then improvise. Nevertheless, the speaker does not have more time to think about the proposal than the time allotted to his narrative. From time to time, improvisation during a performance in front of a live audience leads to new thoughts, but in general, it will be very difficult to formulate any ideas, unlike a letter, when you can think of one sentence at any time.

If you have enough time to rehearse a speech for a performance, then you can slowly but surely approach the improvisational performance, as you can see from the actors’ example. Again, there is a difference between giving “without hesitation” and an ideological presentation. After all, all the time that you spend to rehearse performances, you can use to improve the material of speech! Actors rarely face such a situation (only if they are also writers of their speech at the same time). However, speakers rarely avoid this problem. Prior to my speech, I usually find time to prepare and try to present the text in my head. Nevertheless, my mental rehearsals usually end with the correction and rewriting of the text of the speech. Therefore, the text of my speech, in the end, always crossed out and crossed out, with a lot of corrections and corrections. In addition, because I did not have enough time to rehearse new additions, I increasingly stumbled, “mah…” and “emmm…”

It all depends on the situation, but in general, things can be worse. It is known that the audience loves flattery and jokes. Spectators also adore when they are enchanted by an energetic and decisive speech. In addition, since the speaker acts on the consciousness of the audience, it can be said that a good speaker is more of a skilled nonprofessional. Of course, this also applies to the writer, but he does it worse than a person who maintains eye contact with the audience. Any listener is much more receptive and, to some extent, more stupid than the reader. But many people forget that time is proportional: how much is it for a speaker to think about improvising each sentence, as many listeners in the hall need to hear and understand his thoughts. In addition, any viewer in the audience is always influenced by others, and, the reaction that is transmitted from one listener to another is more like herd behavior, just as ordinary people perceive ordinary thoughts better than serious ones. Any audience is still a “green” and a successful speaker is able to use it for their own purposes. One of the reasons why I laughed so much at the speaker’s speech at that conference was because all the others did it.

Are the performances so useless? They are definitely weaker than written works as a source of ideas. However, not all performances are suitable for this. Why I attend different seminars is because I am interested in the personality of the speaker. After listening to the speech of a specialist, this is the best thing you can get from someone who, for example, as a president, does not have the opportunity to individually meet with anyone who would like it.

Speeches affect me as well as great motivation. In addition, perhaps not by chance, many speakers are called motivators. Perhaps motivation – This is exactly what the speeches are for and what they were originally intended for. The emotions that cause the performance are a powerful psychological weapon. Perhaps, I am mistaken, but, unfortunately, it seems to me that in most cases statements are not used for peaceful purposes.

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