Practically Speaking

  • ISBN-13: 9780195337662
  • Author: J. Dan Rothwell
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2013-11-11
  • Edition: 1
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 352
  • $17.25
  • Save $32


Practically Speaking aims to address four key objectives for students: 1) readability, 2) clarity, 3) applicability, and 4) affordability. Regarding the first objective--readability--the wisdom of Samuel Johnson seems apt: "What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." Maximum effort has been devoted to writing a textbook that might ignite the interest of student readers, not induce a coma. Textbooks are not meant to read like Stephen King novels, but they do not need to be a horror by reading like an instruction manual for setting up your new flat-screen TV. Consequently, I attempted to practice what I teach about gaining and maintaining attention by using the attention strategies discussed in Chapter 5. There are novel and humorous examples, stories, quotations, photos, and cartoons; intense, dramatic, and poignant illustrations; colorful and vivid language and metaphors; startling statistics and historical facts sprinkled throughout every chapter. The writing style is conversational and the perpendicular pronoun "I" is used when relating personal narratives. First-person singular is more engaging than impersonal references such as "this author experienced" or "a student in the author's class." In addition, second-person pronoun references to "you" are employed frequently to address readers directly.A second objective--clarity--is addressed in a variety of ways. The organization of each chapter follows the rules of good organizational logic presented in Chapter 7. Such logic can be examined by perusing the Table of Contents. In addition, headings and subheadings are carefully chosen and worded to produce maximum clarity as well as originality. Finally, copious illustrations and explanations are provided to clarify all important public speaking concepts and processes.A third objective--applicability--requires concerted effort to demonstrate the practical utility for students of becoming competent public speakers. The first chapter addresses in detail such applicability. The remaining chapters elaborate on this important objective. Numerous pop culture references and newsworthy events are used as illustrations, further revealing the applicability of competent public speaking for students.A fourth objective--affordability--has become a national issue shared by students and faculty alike. A 2012 Oxford University Press national survey of 327 professors who teach public speaking at U. S. universities and community colleges revealed that almost 75% of respondents viewed price as an "extremely or very important" feature of a public speaking text. I am a longtime member of the bookstore/textbook committee on my campus that strives to find ways to make textbooks more affordable for students. Every effort has been exerted to make Practically Speaking an attractive but affordable alternative to other much more expensive choices. Oxford University Press is a non-profit publishing company, so this alone provides considerable price advantage for students surviving on tight budgets. The lean size of Practically Speaking also helps reduce the price. Practically Speaking aims to address six different objectives for teachers of public speaking: 1) sound scholarship, 2) standard yet innovative coverage, 3) brevity, 4) recency, 5) logical organization, and 6) useful ancillaries. The first objective, sound scholarship, is critically important. Providing substantial theory and research to bolster the advice offered to novice student speakers counters the oft-heard, naive claim that public speaking is just "common sense." Without such theory and research, advice provided will appear as little more than the personal opinion of the author, easily trivialized or ignored and often at odds with the opinions of others. It is bound to strike the more alert student readers that authors who insist on inclusion of research and evidence for student speeches but include little research and evidence to support their advice offered in a textbook seem contradictory. We never want students to equate relatively short texts such as Practically Speaking with being "lightweight" or insubstantial. The careful scholarship in Practically Speaking is evident in every chapter. More than 500 references are cited and the communication competence model, carefully developed in Chapter 1, serves as the theoretical basis for all advice offered. In addition, Chapter 9 on skepticism is the only chapter of its kind in public speaking texts that so thoroughly explains the theoretical underpinnings of critical thinking for public speakers. A second objective for public speaking teachers--standard yet innovative coverage--is addressed in several ways. All standard topics found in any reputable public speaking text and identified in the Oxford survey previously referenced are thoroughly developed in Practically Speaking. Innovative coverage includes the opening chapter on communication competence. There is a separate chapter on speech anxiety

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