On Being a Modern Gentleman:
Guideline 15: Be an Orator
Public speaking is one of the most common (and most irrational) fears of the modern age. Many people will admit that they are either afraid or uncomfortable speaking in front of others. This is unfortunate because history’s most charismatic, memorable, and influential people were not only comfortable public speakers, they were orators.
Oratory as a skill and art was fashioned in Ancient Greece. Oratory skills were essential for all educated men and were even considered virtuous. The great Greek philosophers owe a large part of their fame to oratory. Oratory as an art form would continue in early Rome, and then fall aside, to be briefly revived during times of revolution, and governmental and social change in Europe and the Americas.
The difference between oratory and public speaking is comparable to the difference between the crayoned picture on your fridge and Monet’s Impression, soleil levant. Oratory is public speaking elevated to a higher, nobler plane. An orator inspires audiences, moves them to action, and stirs their thoughts and emotions. It is something all modern gentleman should strive to master.
You won’t master oration immediately. It takes years of practice, study, and experience in front of audiences, but it can be done. First, conquer any fears you may have of public speaking. Your first speeches will probably be awful. So what? Keep doing it.
Supplement these early experiences with study. Study rhetoric and logical fallacies. Explore pathos, ethos, and logos. Watch great orators in action and read famous speeches. And, fortunately, if you’ve followed the other guidelines to being a modern gentleman, you’re a step in the right direction: The Greeks believed that to be a true orator, you must be of good character, sharp wit, and broad mind. Continue to hone your empathy, amiability, and chivalry, and before you know it, you’ll be a fantastic public speaker, and maybe, you’ll be an orator too.