“Those who speak don’t know those who know never speak”. Though this Chinese proverb is advocating silences but from the time immemorial speech has played an important role in human civilisation. Speaking is an impressive art and unique manifestation of the inner selves. Like all other art its history is also old. From the very beginning of the human civilisation speaking played an important role in operating society.
In the play ‘Julius Caesar’ by William Shakespeare we will notice the power of speaking. Brutus after being a part of the conspiracy and the killing of Julius Caesar gives an impressive speech on the justification of the killing. The citizens present there, were persuaded by his speech. (Act-3,Scene-2, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare)
The example above is a mark of the power of speech and its ability to create, recreate and even destroy public opinion. In the history of England there were so many kings and prime ministers. How many of them are remembered well? Yet Edmund Burke (1729-1797), who is only a member of the parliament, is well remembered by us all. He is remembered as a great statesman and one of the greatest orators.
We get more beautiful examples of public speaking and oratory from history. The debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A Douglas is one of the finest examples of public speaking and debate. They have had seven debates among themselves which focused on slavery. Gettysburg Address by Lincoln is precise and powerful.
A K Fazlul Haque was also a great orator and speaker. In the forties while he was passing laws for the benefit of farmers he spoke in the parliament using rhetoric and oratory which was quite similar to Edmund Burke according to Fakrul Alam, Professor of English, Dhaka University.
In the last century we got some outstanding speakers and orators. Franklin D Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Jawaharlal Nehru, John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Junior and Bill Clinton are few of them. Nehru gave a speech at midnight on the day of independence. It is known as ‘A Tryst with Destiny’ which is a historic one. Martin Luther King’s speech ‘I have a dream’ is now a modern day classic in public speaking. Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Hugo Chavez were also remarkable. Bangabandhu also has a high place in the list! The historic speech of Bangabandhu on 7 March is a glaring example of oratory. He gave an excellent delivery with exact choice of words. In recent history we also see some beautiful debates. Obama-McCain, Obama-Mitt Romny debate received wider attention around the globe.
Speaking is essential and it played an important role in the lives of the politicians and statesmen and also for other professionals. In recent history we will notice a clear development of lucrative public speaking career. There are some highly paid public speakers across the world. Bill Clinton, Dr Yunus and Margaret Thatcher are few of them.
The importance of speaking cannot be expressed in words. Dhaka University Debating Club (DUDS) is one of them. They are working for the development of public speaking among the students. The students are the future leaders of a country. One of the most recent clubs formed in Dhaka University is Dhaka University Reading Club (DURC). One of the many activities of Dhaka University Reading Club (DURC) is public speaking. It inspires students and young intellectuals to speak up and develop the habit of speaking well.
In our weekly public lectures, young intellectuals and students have to speak on a certain topics for 40 minutes at a stretch. After his speech the floor is kept open for all other participants. They get 3-5 minutes to speak on that issue.
Let your voice be delivered, and before delivering your voice, take some preparations. Be honest whenever you speak and learn to admit your weaknesses. Those who want to participate with us in our exercise; you are all welcome to join.
(The writer is a Coordinator of Dhaka University Reading Club.)