We contact Theosophy. We feel benefits from it. We join the Theosophical Society. We want to spread our benefits. That is the first object in our Constitution – “To diffuse among men a knowledge of the laws inherent in the Universe”. The second object is – “To promulgate the knowledge of the essential unity of all that is, and to demonstrate that this unity is fundamental in Nature”. Always remember that unity does not mean uniformity. 

 

We achieve these objects by personal contacts, by writing, by speaking; especially public speaking. That is the topic for these suggestions. Nobody is being criticised or “Got At’. It is intended as a passing-on of some experience gained. Speaking publicly will impress our hearers in direct proportion to our sincerity. That sincerity will never leave us time to feel “That was well said!” 

 

Present your truth as simply as possible. Use basic material. Material you know. Don’t rush at it. Take a deep breath, sit on it, and hold tight. 

 

Now for some don’ts. Don’t wander from your theme. Don’t float off into the clouds and get lost in the exuberance of your own verbosity. Don’t use long words if a short one is there; or strange words, or exotic words; but if you have to use one, briefly explain it. Assume there is a simple person there – nice, but thick – and a bit deaf. Think to him. Enunciate words clearly – loud enough to reach the gallery – and NOT TOO FAST. 

 

Keep your head up; don’t mumble into your chest. Use your own words – not long screeds from books – though a short, pithy quote is O.K. Use short sentences – long, involved sentences are confusing, causing interest to wane.Avoid unnecessary adjectives. Don’t be pedantic – or ‘precious’. If you have something to read use moderate speed, put in some expression to avoid deadly monotones. Don’t worry too much about pronunciation, it changes periodically. Words are tools not fixed templates. Meanings also change gradually but your intention will be understood. Avoid ‘and’, ‘n’, ‘er’, and ‘um’ – ‘m’.             

Cultivate a cheerful manner. Use humour where possible. Remember this quote from Samuel Butler, “A little levity will save many a heavy thing from sinking”. Look around your audience while speaking. When preparing a talk, state your subject and position first. Build up a middle part with convincing material. Re-state your opening in your conclusion. 

 

Don’t write theses for Doctorates. Try to speak off the top of your head – literally, because you know your stuff and that’s where it comes out. Nervousness is natural and very good. It stops us getting ‘cocky’. If you are afraid of forgetting something in its right order it will give you confidence to have some notes – – – just a word or two, a name, an idea, a reminder of the next logical point. Deal with that point from what is built into your memory. If you don’t know your subject you won’t be able to pass it on. 

 

Finally: No one is going to be able to remember all these ‘do’s and don’ts’ every time they speak. You’re here because you’re interested so TRY. Paderewski had to first learn his scales!  

 

 

The above is the text of a lecture presented to the Theosophical Society Pasadena in Melbourne Australia. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Theosophical Society Pasadena.