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Art of Public Speaking: Lessons from the Greatest Speeches in History

Art of Public Speaking: Lessons from the Greatest Speeches in History

Professor John R. Hale Ph.D.
University of Louisville
Course No.  2031
Course No.  2031
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Course Overview

About This Course

12 lectures  |  31 minutes per lecture

Everybody is a public speaker. Maybe you're delivering a corporate presentation or interviewing for a new job. Maybe you're a teacher lecturing students or a citizen addressing a neighborhood association. Maybe you're arguing a case before a courtroom or persuading book club members about the merits of your latest read.

Whatever the situation, being able to speak in public is essential to success. You can have the most logical argument possible, but in order to truly teach, inform, persuade, or defend, you need to present your ideas with conviction and confidence.

Yet this is often easier said than done. Many of us have a deep fear of public speaking. Or we think it's just an intuitive talent that can't be learned. But according to award-winning Professor John R. Hale of the University of Louisville, a masterful public speaker who has delivered more than 1,000 speeches to all manner of audiences, that couldn't be further from the truth.

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Everybody is a public speaker. Maybe you're delivering a corporate presentation or interviewing for a new job. Maybe you're a teacher lecturing students or a citizen addressing a neighborhood association. Maybe you're arguing a case before a courtroom or persuading book club members about the merits of your latest read.

Whatever the situation, being able to speak in public is essential to success. You can have the most logical argument possible, but in order to truly teach, inform, persuade, or defend, you need to present your ideas with conviction and confidence.

Yet this is often easier said than done. Many of us have a deep fear of public speaking. Or we think it's just an intuitive talent that can't be learned. But according to award-winning Professor John R. Hale of the University of Louisville, a masterful public speaker who has delivered more than 1,000 speeches to all manner of audiences, that couldn't be further from the truth.

All it takes is confidence, practice, and the knowledge of time-tested techniques and strategies used by history's greatest public speakers—all of which you'll find in The Art of Public Speaking: Lessons from the Greatest Speeches in History. This 12-lecture course is your guide to the secrets of this essential skill, an insider's look at what makes history's enduring speeches so unforgettable, and an invaluable reference tool you can use any time you have to speak your mind.

Learn from History's Greatest Public Speakers

As both a lecturer and a distinguished historian, Professor Hale has a strong awareness of how public speaking has been used effectively in the past. What makes The Art of Public Speaking such a unique educational experience is that you learn about the craft from some of the best public speakers in history. Each lecture features powerful speeches by iconic individuals that illustrate how the strategies of public speaking have been used in real situations.

Here are some of the powerful voices you'll meet:

  • Abraham Lincoln, who defined the art of delivering a strong conclusion with his iconic Gettysburg Address
  • Marie Curie, whose commencement address to Vassar College in 1921 exemplifies how to turn dry facts into captivating stories
  • Martin Luther King Jr., who illustrated the best way to share beliefs in his stirring "I Have a Dream"speech

A Course Designed for All Speakers

Explorations of public speaking are often bogged down in complex rhetorical terms. But Professor Hale has designed The Art of Public Speaking to be accessible to everyone. In order to do this, he takes you through each of the three key components of successful public speaking.

  • How to prepare for public speaking: Learn from Patrick Henry, Elizabeth I, and others how to overcome stage fright, control your voice and body, use humor, and personalize your delivery.
  • How to craft a great speech: Learn how to build captivating speeches from people such as Paul the Apostle and Susan B. Anthony and how to use stories, examples, logic, and impressive visual images.
  • How to handle your audience: Learn from Mark Antony, Gandhi, and others how to focus on your audience, persuade them to agree with you, invite them to share your vision, and inspire them to change.

Practical Advice to Help You in Any Situation

The Art of Public Speaking, though rooted in rich history, is packed with practical advice. Here are just three of the tips you'll find:

  • Speak from personal knowledge: Use personal experiences to allow your audience to better connect with you. In polite conversation, talking about yourself is frowned upon; in public speaking, it's essential.
  • Organize your facts into a story: When drafting a speech, find the underlying stories in your topic and organize your information around these stories. You'll find it easier to remember your speech, and your audience will engage more with your message.
  • Weave familiar references into your speech: Using familiar quotations when addressing your audience can establish a common ground. They may not be your words but, when used sparingly, they can infuse your speech with added power.

A Course that's Informative and Inspirational

Praised by both our customers and his students for delivering lectures that are informative and engaging, Professor Hale is the perfect instructor for a course on the power of public speaking. Each of his lectures is an example of lecturing at its finest, demonstrating firsthand the ability of a public speaker to tell stories, to inform, and to inspire.

So join him on this invaluable and practical look at one of the most important skills in your personal and professional life. Whether you want to finally become the confident public speaker you've always wanted to be or are just looking for fresh advice on how to strengthen your public speaking skills, this dynamic course has everything you need.

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12 Lectures
  • 1
    Overcome Obstacles—Demosthenes of Athens
    Here, Professor Hale outlines the goals of the course. Then, he introduces you to Demosthenes—the ancient Greek orator whose life and career illustrates how practice, hard work, memorization, the acceptance of early failures, and other skills are essential to overcoming obstacles from stage fright to speech impediments. x
  • 2
    Practice Your Delivery—Patrick Henry
    Key to effective speaking is using your voice and body to reinforce your meaning. Using examples from Patrick Henry, Oliver Cromwell, Winston Churchill, and others, learn how the power of a speech lies not so much in words as in vocal and physical elements like tone, pitch, facial expression, and posture. x
  • 3
    Be Yourself—Elizabeth I to Her Army
    In order to make the deepest possible connection with your audience, it's essential to talk about yourself. This lecture provides you with advice on opening up to people about yourself—your experiences, your emotions, even your weaknesses—with some lessons taken from speeches by Elizabeth I and Sojourner Truth. x
  • 4
    Find Your Humorous Voice—Will Rogers
    Learn how to use humorous techniques such as hyperbole, incongruity, and surprise—even when your speech is of the utmost seriousness. The secret of effective humor, as speeches by Will Rogers and others show, is to ensure that each laugh makes a point and focuses your audience's attention on the topic. x
  • 5
    Make It a Story—Marie Curie on Discovery
    Turn now to a series of lectures on composing effective speeches. Here, investigate the benefits of organizing information into a story to give your details weight and vividness. One powerful example of this concept at work: Marie Curie using storytelling to explain the complexities of radium—and to make them memorable. x
  • 6
    Use the Power of Three—Paul to His People
    What is the power of three? And why is it so important to writing a great speech? Find out as Professor Hale unpacks the 13th chapter from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians to demonstrate why a speech—and the examples and anecdotes it uses—should be planned in threes. x
  • 7
    Build a Logical Case—Susan B. Anthony
    Logic should always guide the sequence of your thoughts, whether you're giving a sermon, a corporate report, or a birthday toast. Discover how to avoid digressions, offensive statements, contrarian views, and other pitfalls that may disrupt the logic of your speech, with examples from Susan B. Anthony, John Stuart Mill, and Chief Joseph. x
  • 8
    Paint Pictures in Words—Tecumseh on Unity
    Narrow your focus to the individual words and phrases you use in your speech—each of which can make your topic unforgettable. With the help of Tecumseh, Homer, Aesop, and others, examine ways to create and use evocative images, avoid mixed metaphors and hyperbole, and more. x
  • 9
    Focus on Your Audience—Gandhi on Trial
    Now that you've learned how to overcome obstacles and prepare, it's time to learn the essential elements of actually giving a speech. Here, Professor Hale uses famous historical figures, including Gandhi and President Kennedy, as models for how to deliver your speech to—and connect with—specific audiences. x
  • 10
    Share a Vision—Martin Luther King's Dream
    Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most iconic speeches in modern history. More important: It's the perfect example of a speech with the power to inspire. In this lecture, discover ways to articulate and share your personal vision with an audience. x
  • 11
    Change Minds and Hearts—Mark Antony
    Sometimes, you may find yourself speaking before an audience who needs to be persuaded about your point of view. Discover invaluable tips for swaying emotions and opinions by appealing to sentiments, repeating facts, and using props—just like Mark Antony does in his unforgettable speech from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. x
  • 12
    Call for Positive Action—Lincoln at Gettysburg
    Finish the course with a look at what Professor Hale considers the greatest speech ever written: Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Two powerful lessons you can take away from Lincoln's words: Include a clear call to action near the conclusion of your speech, and always craft a strong ending. x

Lecture Titles

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John R. Hale
Ph.D. John R. Hale
University of Louisville
Dr. John R. Hale is the Director of Liberal Studies at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He earned his B.A. at Yale University and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England. Professor Hale teaches introductory courses on archaeology, as well as more specialized courses on the Bronze Age, the ancient Greeks, the Roman world, Celtic cultures, the Vikings, and nautical and underwater archaeology. An accomplished instructor, Professor Hale is also an archaeologist with more than 30 years of fieldwork experience. He has excavated at a Romano-British town in Lincolnshire, England, and at the Roman Villa of Torre de Palma in Portugal. Among other places, he has carried out interdisciplinary studies of ancient oracle sites in Greece and Turkey, including the famous Delphic oracle, and participated in an undersea search in Greek waters for lost fleets from the time of the Persian Wars. Professor Hale has received many awards for distinguished teaching, including the Panhellenic Teacher of the Year Award and the Delphi Center Award. His writing has been published in the journals Antiquity, The Classical Bulletin, the Journal of Roman Archaeology, and Scientific American.
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Reviews

Rated 3.9 out of 5 by 68 reviewers.
Rated 1 out of 5 by Good title, poorly presented The idea of presenting the greatest speeches in history and learn from them is fantastic, but the way professor John R. Hale presents it is very poor. Rather than providing meaningful information on how to understand the real important points of what makes a difference on preparing to do public speaking, taking all the great examples he mentions on the course, professor Hale concentrates on delivering his own readings and this limits the knowledge. I think the best way to learn to do public speaking is to practice and listen to yourself, so I think rather than listening to the readings, some practical exercises would have made a difference in this course. Another important point in public speaking is the passion given at delivering the message, and professor Hale lacks passion totally. I was disappointed with this course. November 15, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Interesting and Entertaining Listening to the various speeches and the getting the professor's commentary was great. I enjoyed listening to all of these lectures on the drive to work. I also like how the study guide gave a recap of the key take-away points at the end of each chapter. The choice of speeches was good, I have read about Tecumseh before and find his visual imagery excellent. The other speeches by Oliver Cromwell, Martin Luther King, and Patrick Henry had interesting Biblical references that you would never learn in public school but they are part of history. The writings of the apostle Paul (in Corinthians) was also pointed out for its use of three point structure. Overall, the professor for this course is a good story teller and makes his subject interesting. October 25, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Excellent way to learn! I really like this! I think everyone would benefit from learning this way. No class rooms and you can go at your own pace! October 11, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Worthwhile introduction to the Great Courses I had been wanting for years to try out a course from the Great Courses. I decided that, since I will soon be called upon to speak in front of a group, this was the perfect course to try. At first, I was not sure about the idea of an archeologist presenting the material. However, Professor Hale made the class interesting and touched on a variety of different topics relating to mythology, sociology, and history in the context of learning to give a better speech. There are really just basic lessons on the art of giving a speech, but there are several important ideas spread throughout. Every lecture was worthwhile and presented in an interesting manner. I look forward to taking more courses from the Great Courses--in fact, I've already started my next--and possibly even more from Professor Hale. September 22, 2014
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