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

Course No. 2031
Professor John R. Hale, Ph.D.
University of Louisville
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4.1 out of 5
126 Reviews
74% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 2031
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Course Overview

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
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 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

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Video DVD
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  • Download 12 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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DVD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 2 DVDs
  • 64-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 64-page printed course guidebook
  • Photographs
  • Key lessons
  • Bibliography

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Your professor

John R. Hale

About Your Professor

John R. Hale, Ph.D.
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...
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Art of Public Speaking: Lessons from the Greatest Speeches in History is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 126.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learning from the past masters on public speaking This is a great course for someone who has never addressed a public audience before. I found it useful to gain examples by listening to Prof. Hale access these historical masters in their finest moments.
Date published: 2018-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Solid Foundation I found each lesson to be an educational journey sown together with the speeches of master orators. Important points, techniques, and styles are brought into light and recommendations and tools are provided to assist in their development. Each lesson has a nice recap so I am able to establish my takeaways and review and nurture them as I grow as a speaker.
Date published: 2018-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspirational for me! This course inspired me and helped me to elevate the quality of my presentations. I am a physician and enjoy speaking to audiences about stress, self-management and life quality issues. This encouraged me to get away from PowerPoint slides containing lots of words, to use more personal examples, tell more stories, have more energy, etc. The course is much different (and more enjoyable) than listening to a factual, detailed series of lectures about speaking. Professor Hale obviously enjoys the art of public speaking and that makes it more interesting!
Date published: 2017-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Art of Public Speaking: Lessons from the Greatest The writing and reading of this book allowed me to carry many visuals of the stories told. I'm so glad I purchased it for Pageantry
Date published: 2017-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect for my highschoolers I am a homeschool mom and teacher and this course has been PERFECT for my high school students. I appreciate how Dr. Hale starts with issues related to *you* as the speaker (Overcoming Obstacles, etc.) and then addresses the many kinds of speeches that can be given - informational, persuasive, and so on. His examples are engaging and he gives great tips on specifics such as visual aids and using story as a speech tool. My more than reluctant students, who could barely complete a stammering 60 sec. speech at the beginning of the year, were being told they needed to wrap up their 8 minute speeches by the spring. HIGHLY recommended.
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course This is my first review...I probably bought it because it was on sale as that is my MO. I listened to it a lot in the car and found myself feeling very impressed with Dr Hale's interest and expertise in this field. I just felt comfortable with him and knew I would learn something useful, I particularly enjoyed the lesson on Gandhi.
Date published: 2017-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very useful, structured course I have many years experience of public speaking, mainly giving lectures to audiences that sometimes number close to a thousand or more. I found the course very engaging and it reaffirmed many important techniques (in a structured way) that I employ "naturally". I really appreciate the way the great speeches were used to illustrate the various techniques - it allows one to grasp the points immediately. Prof Hale has done an excellent job!
Date published: 2017-05-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice analysis I liked the analysis of several important speeches from history with very valid points to remember about lessons learned.
Date published: 2017-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent, Practical Course I found this course to be a steady, workmanlike march through the do's and don't's of public speaking. Prof. Hale has an excellent speaking voice and does a commendable job of praising and criticizing discrete aspects of a number of famous speeches, all with an emphasis on divining practical tips the listener should consider for use in his or her own public speaking. The course is well-organized, and each lecture is well-considered. I listened to the audio version, which was entirely satisfactory. This course is well worth the investment, particularly in light of the low price at which it is often offered in sale promotions. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Information Interesting collection of speech examples and thoughtful presentation and organization. Not very inspiring as a speaker when giving examples - could use more in the way of facial expressions, smiling, laughing, unrestricted motions, modulation, etc.
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Introduction to Public Speaking I purchased this course for my girlfriend, who did not have any experience or formal training on public speaking. She found it extremely helpful. I personally liked this course (... I watched this with her out of curiosity) as it reiterated everything that I had learned about public speaking both during my academic studies as well as my own experiences during my career. I honestly believe that you will learn from (... and enjoy) this course! Professor Hale is very passionate and interesting.
Date published: 2017-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent product!!! thank you, so educational. will definitely look into other courses.
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Improve Your Public Speaking I do a lot of public speaking and this course helped me improve my speaking. I recommend the audio version.
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent, practical insights for all of us What makes this short series so enjoyable is that Prof Hale illustrates his teaching points using actual historical speeches. All of the twelve exemplar speech-makers (from ancient to relatively modern times) are well known figures, but I, for one, was not familiar with some of the example speeches. I particularly liked that for each of the twelve installments he clearly covered these issues: Who was the example speaker? What was the issue at stake? Why is the outcome considered so exemplary? and, perhaps most importantly, What is the lesson to take away from this speech regarding the process of public speaking on my own part? I was a little surprised he was offering this course on speaking because my introduction to Dr. Hale was his course "Great Tours: Greece & Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul", which I enjoyed very much, I found a lot to learn in that course even though I had already visited many of the Mediterranean sites he covered. So, I thought of him as an archaeologist, not as a "speech teacher". But, he teaches speaking in an effective, low-key way with lessons that I hope to incorporate in some effort of my own in the future. It should be noted that is is a shorter course, with 12 installments.
Date published: 2016-10-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too much talking, not enough listening Dr. Hale clearly knows his material and speaks well, as we would expect. But he talks all the time - I was hoping to hear and view some of the world's great orators in action and all we saw was very brief bits of them: Churchill, Ghandi, Kennedy, King. I would have preferred to listen to the speeches and then analyze them with Dr. Hale, rather than hear him do the analysis without letting us hear or see the actual speeches. Disappointing.
Date published: 2016-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Our family used this for a high school level homeschool class and it was excellent. Great examples were provided. The teacher was great!
Date published: 2016-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Art of Public Speaking: Lessons from the Greatest Quality course, good presentation, well researched, over all great value.
Date published: 2016-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Well Done! The presenter is a very polished speaker who skillfully uses his voice and body in a natural way to practice what he preaches. He has a pleasant baritone speaking voice and even sings a bit, unaccompanied, to prove a point. The selection of speeches used as examples is excellent. Overall a very enjoyable and helpful course. My experience with customer service following a hitch on this particular purchase was outstanding.
Date published: 2016-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent and Helpful Course This course is well done and very interesting. I think everyone should learn how to speak in front of people. This was my first purchase and it was on sale which made the decision but I know I will not hesitate to purchase other courses. Nicely done -- thank you,
Date published: 2016-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Art of Public Speaking This is an excellent course, and is just the right length to allow the listener to comprehend the main feature of each lecture. The choice of the greatest speeches is ideal and carefully chosen.
Date published: 2016-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Recommended Recommended. I have done a lot of public presentations and I found this course excellent and it would be particularly useful for someone just beginning public speaking. The presentations are clear, insightful and often with a very personal touch to make the lesson clearer. I can easily recommend this course to others.
Date published: 2016-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oratory Tour de Force This course offered a tour through a sample of histories greatest speeches. It was well organized, offered strong analysis of speech content, and concluded each lesson with ideas for our oratorical tool chest. One suggestion would be to play the recordings of the modern speeches. As sonorous as is the voice of Professor Hale, I would have like to have heard King's speech from a recording. Indeed, I sought it out on YouTube after the last lecture to slake my thirst for more. The main theme that stayed with me was "law of three" principle. It was reflected throughout the speeches, again in Aristotelian Logos, Ethos & Pathos, and in my review. As a university professor, I will use themes from this course to improve lectures and conference presentations. Keep inviting Professor Hale to lend his talents to the Great Courses. He is a pleasure to listen to.
Date published: 2016-05-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Do Not Under Rate This Course But... I have to admit, after the first couple of lectures, I was somewhat discouraged by this course. Much of the material is what I would rate as "standard faire". But then again, I have a lot of experience in this area being a speaker myself. It's important to consider the starting point of a student approaching any class. When I teach, I always try to get a solid understanding of the students before presenting my course. But that cannot be done with a DVD. That means a person new to public speaking is going to get more than someone with more experience. Because of that, I try to adjust my reviews to my starting point. I cannot cut stars because it wasn't at my level as this course may be great for the beginner. Here's something very important to remember on the subject of public speaking. We all start by learning the basics. Then, as we gain experience and confidence we develop our own style. That means we'll toss many of the standard 'rules' and go with what is comfortable and effective. For example, this course teaches that PowerPoint presentations should not use words on slides---stay with images. Use images, not words. Be visually impactful. I get tired of hearing that. So when you're instructed to stand before your company's executive team and present quarterly results, you should dazzle them with pictures? No. I helped a physician prepare a presentation on dealing with death. It was a serious topic with a lot of backup statistical data. Should it have included lots of pictures of people withering away under the nose of their physician? No. My back bothers me. If I must speak for 6 hours, I simply cannot maintain perfectly erect posture. If my content is engaging, if students are learning, if the time flies by, have I failed because my body language isn't right? Here's the point of all that. Each of us must start somewhere. This course is loaded with good, solid fundamentals backed by good examples. That's great. Sure, sometimes the delivery feels contrived, forced. People trying to be forceful often sound robotic. Why? They haven't found their style. This course is well worth your time and money. Keep in mind that to be a good speaker you will have to find your own voice. But, it's a good idea to start with a good foundation. This course will give you that foundation.
Date published: 2016-03-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Archaic History of Public Speaking Title of this course should be “Archaic History of Public Speaking.” Useless and boring. These are the types of lectures that one will skip in college. Stereotype professor, bookish narrative. Professor Hale should stick to his field of archaeology. President Kennedy’s picture on the cover is misleading. Obsolete examples. Total waste of money.
Date published: 2016-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Confident speaker Revisited Skills Sets Though I feel I have the proper amount of confidence and feel comfortable speaking to various sized audiences I selected this course because I have not reflected on the subject's best practices nor conducted a self-review of my techniques since graduate school which was over ten years ago. After watching the preview I felt that Professor Hale and the course material would be a benefit in providing me with timely, healthy self-evaluation and best practices review. The lecture subjects and the instructor both met with my highest expectations. So whether well practiced, a natural, or developing your innate talents for the first time I highly recommend Professor Hale and his well selected lessons from the greatest speeches in history so both you and your audience have an enjoyable experience the next time you present relevant material through well-spoken rhetoric.
Date published: 2016-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Hale Hits a Homerun Professor John H. Hale hit the ball out of the park with this course. I have been speaking in public for years, but have learned so much from these 12 lessons that I now believe I am at a whole new level.
Date published: 2016-02-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lessons from the Greatest Speeches in History It was very well thought out. And gave helpful insight into putting together a public speech both large and small. And while it gave what were some obvious tips, it was good reinforcement to here them again.
Date published: 2016-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Greatest Speeches - Very useful Excellent, great value. It is very applicable to business situations. The instructor was very good and used a wide range of interesting examples throughout the course. He related key components of great speeches and how they can be applied to liven up and persuade in speeches and conversation.
Date published: 2016-01-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Public Speaking Very good. After years of selling and speaking, I learned some of the lessons on my own but I wish I had taken this course years ago.
Date published: 2016-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very PLeased The speaker proved his worth as a teacher by actually following his own points. I really liked his personality. He invited me to trust him in the discussion.
Date published: 2016-01-19
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