From the Introduction....
If this book were just a satire, it would grow old pretty quickly: 1. Stumble to the front. 2. Raise your arms. 3. Groooooaaaannnnn.
Instead, this book is a deeply researched investigation into why most public speeches don’t really accomplish our goals for them and what we can do about that.
You shamble up to the front of the room. The audience groans and shuffles around. Everyone is looking for brains. There are none to be found. All suffer from the living death of boredom and lack of engagement.
One of the things that is scary about zombies is that they look like people, your neighbors, family, colleagues and friends, but they are not. At least one person in most zombie movies will make the mistake of thinking there is still humanity in there and they get chomped for it. This is also what is scary and sad about most speeches. Everyone looks human. But there are no human connections. Our minds disappear into a glaze of Power Point.
In most places where we give speeches, we do the same thing. We brainlessly show up to the same places, go through the same motions, use the same kinds of slides, and repeat the things that seem to matter even when they don’t.
All too often we show up, pretending that we are doing a lot of work, hard work, good work. And we want our audiences to believe it too. And when they clap and we sit down, for a minute all of us feel that it was all right, that we really did all just endure something together that was worth it. A second later, that feeling is gone, and we wonder what happened to another day or another afternoon and wish, like we did when we were ten, that somehow school would be cancelled and we could, just for a day, choose again to do something we want to do with our time.
Most speeches fail. And mostly we pretend that this is okay, that it is not a terrible waste of everyone’s time. We go through the motions again like zombies.
The argument is simple: you are doing it wrong.
Public speaking, at its best, moves people and creates change. But when was the last time you were enthralled with a speech? No phone, no wandering attention, no thoughts of lunch? Speaking has become an inert show, a droning on in front of a flickering failure of visual aids. We have already given up before we stand up to give a speech. No one cares, not even you. Public life has been reduced to a “let’s just get this over with” mentality.
Too strong a judgment? Look at the faces in the room around you next time you are sitting in an audience and tell me I’m wrong.
We need to resurrect this dead thing called speaking.
So, in appropriate horror movie fashion, this book will be about reanimating a corpse.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Steven S. Vrooman has been teaching public speaking and popular culture for almost twenty years. He is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Texas Lutheran University.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
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