The Art of Public Speaking by J. Berg Esenwein and Dale Carnegie

The Art of Public Speaking by J. Berg Esenwein and Dale Carnegie
The Art of Public Speaking by J. Berg Esenwein and Dale Carnegie | ©

The Art of Public Speaking is a classic book published over a century ago that succinctly captures tips to groom you into a proficient public speaker. J. Berg Esenwein and Dale Carnegie insist on audience involvement. This book equips you with techniques and the most needed confidence that guarantees a memorable public speaking experience. When a speech is monotonous, instead of engaging, your audience rather feels detached. In this book, you will learn how to enhance your voice or your tone, articulate more effectively, the successful use of rhetoric, and how to consistently maintain a feeling of enthusiasm in your audience. The book is perfect for anyone looking to stand out in the field of public speaking.


Recall when you were first entrusted with the responsibility to pass through some communication to a group of people; it could have been at the job site presenting a proposal or back in elementary school reading an oral report. What was your experience; embarrassing or memorable? Either way, it could have been one of your most difficult experiences. That should not be a surprise for public speaking has never been an easy thing, even to the seasoned speakers.

Whatever you say and however you say it, the quintessence is that crucial message must be passed effectively. Public Speaking is thus effective communication. It is an art that goes beyond information to entertainment and influence. As such it is above all a social science that requires some lessons and training even for those who are born naturally good speakers.

Whether or not you do regular presentations, public speaking is an art that must be mastered. It could open opportunities for you in ways you never thought are necessary. In any case and as the authors opine in their book, excellent public speaking skills will enhance many areas of an individual’s life. One day or another, you may become a public speaker; at a friend’s wedding, inspire a group of volunteers, or even deliver a eulogy of a dear friend, which makes this book an asset for most of the people.

Practice, incorporate rhetoric and add flavor

The Art of Public Speaking covers all the tips, tricks, and information that will make you a better public speaker. Even though it is over 100 years, it is interesting to note that most of the details covered are still relevant today. Minor facts as the presence of computer or PowerPoint presentations absent in those years may be inconsequential to the substance of the subject matter as found in the book.

The core message of the book is constant and very relevant. It covers all the basics which would help one better their content, be more effective at articulating words, add flavor to their voice and tone, as well as incorporate a host of other elements like rhetoric. Considering that this book was written at a time when the use of voice gadgets such as microphones was absent, a person with novice public speaking skills will find it helpful. Nowadays, public speaking gadgets are used to play with a vocal variety that cheats the audience. The Art of Public Speaking uplifts you to your natural level. It is a resource that can quickly take you from the beginner to a pro. The only thing that you must do is practically implement all the ideas captured therein.

Preferably, start practicing with small groups, occasionally consulting your notes to see whether you are on track with the recommendations. Every time you do so, do a self-evaluation and see what you have accomplished, and what you need to improve. Remember that there are a couple of case study examples that you may want to put into practice. Renowned public speakers like Abraham Lincoln did not just sprout out of nowhere. Much-respected public speaker honed their skills by reading aloud planned speeches before going out to the public. Why not you?

Garnering Confidence

The experience is that most of us often get anxious in front of a crowd, eager to listen to what they have to say. Amid pressure, we end up fumbling with words, eventually failing to convey any important message. J. Berg Esenwein and Dale Carnegie give a detailed explanation of how you can gain the confidence to speak to an audience. In the book, the authors write that you have the power to get over self-consciousness and the fear known to paralyze many.

The author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie, argues that a book alone is not enough to help you get over stage fright. Yes, a book can share several suggestions on how to do this. But you must get your hands dirty to really know how it feels. By getting your hands dirty, it means you should be proactively involved in doing what confident public speakers do. Go to the stage and take in as much fear as you can. They know it is frightful, but they still face the audience with their heads raised high.

Interestingly, the authors acknowledge the concept of stage-fright. They know you might still be a victim. They do not assume that you live in a perfect world, where when you read how to deal with something, it immediately vanishes. Instead, they encourage you to face your fear over and over again until you perfect your art. The more you do this, the more you set yourself on a path to becoming a master speaker sooner than you think. “Do not be disheartened if at first you suffer from stage-fright…” Mastering your game does not mean you have overcome stage-fright. Just learn to conquer little bits of the situation and everything should be fine.

The issue of confidence on stage is an essential one. When you speak with so much fear shown through the eyes and actions, your audience sees the doubt in you and thus may also find it difficult to believe you. Displaying the fear taints your image and may send the wrong impression: you are frightened because you hadn’t conducted thorough research, your preparation is superficial. Confidence unlocks the crowd’s faith and trust in the speaker. You missed this at the very beginning, and the whole speech will be messed up.

“Sin” of Monotony

Have you ever sat next to somebody who does all the talking while you get to say nothing? Guess it takes you just a little moment to lose interest. Because our brain is wired so that it always desire to reply, it “shuts down” when the speaker denied that privilege. That is the same thing that happens to your audience when you do all the talking without getting them involved.

The Art of Public Speaking singles out monotony as the most common “sin” that public speakers commit. The authors insist on the fact that it is not a transgression. Instead, it is wrongdoing of omission in which the speaker feels there is so much to cover, that they cannot afford to lose time engaging with the audience. The public ends up irritated, and you may as well keep quiet because your message won’t accomplish the intended purpose.


The openness with which authors of this book put forward their arguments is worth commending. Rather than just jumping into generic explanations on several points regarding public speaking, Esenwein and Carnegie first share case studies and, then, expound their explanation. This approach serves to show the reader that public speaking is a practical activity instead of a theoretical one.


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