Over the last year I’ve been giving a speech about speeches.
I’ve asked audiences in Sydney, Australia, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in Gabarone, Botswana and in Washington, D.C.. why we still perform this arcane ritual just as we did 50,000 years ago.
The speech, whose original function was efficiency and convenience—gather everyone together so I can tell them all at once—has been rendered by the Gutenberg Press, radio, TV and YouTube the most colossal waste of time imaginable.
And yet audiences still show up, sit still, and listen—or pretend to—as they’ve always done.
“Why,” I ask my audiences halfway through my talk, “are we here?”
It seems to me that anyone who would inconvenience an audience by giving them a speech ought to know the answer.
This, from me and the members of the Professional Speechwriters Association, is the answer. —DM