Mass Persuasion: The Power of Public Speaking

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Mass Persuasion: The Power of Public Speaking
One of the most basic forms of human communication, speech, is also one of the most complex and intriguing, both in and of itself and in its uniqueness as what many experts would say is the only solely human trait. Through thousands of years of existence, humans have developed and refined speech skills so as to be able to convey simple thoughts as well as deep emotions. While almost all humans are able to speak, some are naturally more gifted at speaking and are able to not only convey their own thoughts and feelings to others but are also able to impose their ideas and emotions on others so tactfully and decisively that the audience can be convinced of most anything. From Roman times to modern day America, speeches have had the power to motivate and sway their audience in the necessary direction. The heightened skills of speech used to sway audiences are reliant on the skilled use of three basic persuasion techniques: ethos, pathos, and logos, which are appeals to one’s ethics, emotion, and logic, respectively. Only when all three of these techniques are skillfully used can a speaker truly be a great speaker who is able to flourish in the face of tragedy and unrest. Even with these skills, however, managing to speak publicly, especially in tragic situations, can be quite hard and speakers that are able to overcome these obstacles are few and far between, but often rise to great power and fame, such as Brutus and Mark Antony in the times of Ancient Rome, and Ronald Reagan in a more modern American context.
Brutus displayed his poise when speaking directly after the assassination of Julius Caesar performed by him and a small group of conspirators. He spoke to try to convince the Roman...

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...seen that leaders’ ability to speak can often determine their greatness. Public speaking is a functional art form that continues to grow as the culture does, and with the correct use of various strategies it can persuade any amount of people to stay calm in the face of disaster or to uproot traditional societal values to seek horrific ideas and events. In the wrong hands, the skills of public speaking will inspire evil and revolution, but in the right hands, it can take men past tragedy and loss, through the roughest of times and most daunting of challenges, and into the unknown of adventure and exploration into the future.

Works Cited

"Reagan's Address to the Nation." Ed. Steve Garber. NASA History Office, 7 June 2004. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2000. Print.
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