There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Once, America was a nation of great orators, but today, says David H. Brown, author of I Would Rather Be Audited by the IRS Than Give a Speech (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.), the nation of William Jennings Bryan and Abraham Lincoln can barely articulate a complete thought. George Bush garbled his way through his presidency. Bill Clinton belongs to the Fidel Castro school of oration: every man a comrade, every speech an epic. And the American people “are just getting worse and worse at public speaking,” Brown says. “More and more people have to give talks and briefings and presentations…but they are never trained to do it. Unfortunately, they are scared of the audience and scared of making a mistake.” The adjunct professor at Montgomery College and self-described “speech doctor” claims he’s got the cure for our incoherent rambling, bad jokes, and horrible physical tics. Speech offers a user-friendly, if jargon-heavy guide to public speaking. Brown dispenses helpful advice on speech logistics—don’t deliver a two-hour slide show right after lunch, for example, and if you’re on a panel, give other speakers a chance at the mike. He also proposes dozens of suggestions—most of them common-sensical—for suppressing anxiety, ranging from walking slowly to the podium to taking a deep breath before approaching the microphone to typing the talk onto dozens of numbered, color-coded, triple-spaced 5- by-7 cards.