Book Review: Mastery Of Speech: Book Three

Mastery Of Speech:  Book Three:  How To Speak Well Under All Ordinary Conditions, by Frederick Houk Law

As a fond reader of forgotten books, I often find myself reading parts of books that have other volumes that for whatever reason have not been scanned and made available.  This particular volume, for example, is the third of eight volumes in a course of self-education on public speaking by a notable figure who also finds himself in these pages as a bit of a prophet by predicting the rise of Silent Cal Coolidge to the presidency on account of his silence in 1918.  As someone who is fond of reading about communication [1], this book has a lot to offer.  Although this is not a new book at all, the insights in this book are of the nature of timeless insights that are of immense value to those who are able to and interested in applying them.  As is often the case with certain “soft” skills, improving one’s public speaking is often not a matter of mastering difficult to understand matters, but rather mastering very simple principles that can be difficult sometimes to apply because they cut against the grain of our normal behavior and our deeply set habits.

This particular book is only a bit over 60 pages and is intensely practical in its structure and contents.  The few pages of the book largely deal with the psychology of speaking under normal (or even abnormal) circumstances that focus on improving one’s ability to connect with one’s audience.  The lessons included one after another in this book include discussions on such matters as:  using eyes while speaking, making facial expressions aid speech, being a leader in speech by asking questions and drawing other people out, making points of contact with one’s audience, taking advantage of the light, mastering unforeseen circumstances, maintaining one’s good nature, reading the minds of those one is speaking to, making judicious use of compliments, being a good listener, gaining the power of silence, using brevity, arousing interest, speaking humorously, being epigrammatic, using slogans, using questions, and speaking inductively and deductively as the situation calls for it.  Each of the lessons closes with exercises designed to help the reader practice the lessons gained in the pages.  The lessons are short but the exercise as a whole is intensely practical and written for those  who want a direct and concise guide on how to improve their public speaking.

This book is a classic example of the practical focus many books took in the early 20th century, and likely was read and studied by a great many people who became known for being excellent speakers.  The book talks about how to schooze with political and cultural elites and find common ground to build rapport, an important skill for someone who is looking to charm important people.  Likewise, the book talks about how speakers can use a practical knowledge of psychology to build interest in an audience as well as to master crowds through the use of wit and good nature, seeming to be above the fray and showing mastery of their own emotional state.  It is likely that this sort of book was read avidly by those with an interest in politics as well as sales, as this book clearly mentions both as applications of the instruction in this message.  It is quite likely that this course as a whole was used as self-education for those who did not go to college but wanted to better themselves through reading and application, and this book and the remainder of the books in its series are likely still immensely useful in that task.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to Book Review: Mastery Of Speech: Book Three

  1. Pingback: Audiobook Review: Great Courses: The Art Of Public Speaking: Lessons From The Greatest Speeches In History | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Audiobook Review: Pitch Perfect | Edge Induced Cohesion

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