Chapter 1 - Section 5

Reason #2: Public Speaking is a Building Block of Community

     Second, public speaking is necessary for the creation of community. Simply put: without public speaking, how would we celebrate our commonalities, highlight our differences, inform and educate others, change others’ minds, and even change our own minds?

     Our democratic political system is designed around several important premises that we too often take for granted: (1) each of us, as individuals, has something important and valuable to say, (2) our individual voices matter because the more voices we hear, the better our collective decision making, and (3) one voice can change the minds of millions of people. Here, think of many, many impactful individuals that utilized a public speaking forum as a means for change. We think of Lincoln, Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and the list goes on and on. For each of these leaders, the use of sharing their desires for change in a public setting initiated the gathering of many like-minded people that impacted historic change.

     For example, during the presidential campaign of 2008, town halls across this country highlighted the connection between public speaking and community. In both the Democratic and Republican Primary Campaigns, traditional town hall meetings, oftentimes broadcast on major television networks, allowed individuals from all walks of life, all economic backgrounds, races, religious preferences, and political persuasions, to share their opinions publicly on various political topics, debate important issues, and help set the agenda for political behavior and policy making.

McCain and Obama     On the eve before Election Day, did you feel like you “knew” John McCain? What about Barack Obama? Interestingly, there is a unique relationship between speaker and audience that is only made possible through public speaking where we learn about the various presidential contenders through their performances in debates, interviews, and speeches. For the most part, public speaking is the means by which we come to know, assess, critique, ridicule (watch any episode of Saturday Night Live for evidence that we love watching public speakers as much as we do making fun of them), or support the various political candidates. Just like we develop relationships with our political candidates without having to meet them personally, so too will you feel connected and/or repulsed, inspired and/or disgusted, and, perhaps most importantly, a part of and/or excluded from a purpose/goal/cause as a result of listening and participating in the most basic of community building blocks: public speaking.

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