Speaking in Public
by Reid Buckley
I will not pretend that I enjoied this volume. Buckley does have some decent points about preparation and presence, but it is couched in such vitriolic language as to make the advice unpalatable at best and hypocritical at worst.
The most valuable advice I found in this book is never underestimate your opponent, either in argument or intelligence. Having a respect for the person you are debating is definitely important and will aid you in strengthening your own case.
There was a strong recommendation (or rather, imperative statement) that speakers should be well-read. I have no problem with this. In fact, I agree that it is valuable to read and have a background in literature. But Buckley questions the intelligence of those who have not reached his prefered level of proficiency.
This is a consistent pattern in this book. Buckley makes an assertion and then throws aspersions on those who don’t conform to it. He uses phrases like “their sad, pathetic lives” in reference to factory workers for no other reason than, as far as I could tell, they work with their hands. He called a woman “as plain as dishwater” in the middle of an example of how confidence is a positive trait. In short, Buckley is mean and exhibits more than a little pettiness.
The parts of his advice that are not horrendously dated are useful (the book is nearly 30 years old). His vocabulary is excellent and I read words that I haven’t seen in print in quite some time. However, this book is of limited use, so I will not recommend that you read it.