Is Public Speaking A Forgotten Art?


The Artful Speaker

The Artful SpeakerIs Public Speaking a Forgotten Art?

When you think of art what comes to your mind? Is it the Great Masters like Monet, Renoir or Vincent Van Gogh, who have the amazing artistic ability to capture on canvas beautiful Sunflowers ablaze in a vase or peaceful Starry Nights over the Rhone? Or is art for you the Modern Masters like Picasso, Dali or Andy Warhol whose iconic Campbell’s soup can and Shot Orange Marilyn images have allowed Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame” to last for more than 26 years so far?

Perhaps when you hear the word art it’s the Britartists, the modern artists of today, people like Tracey Emin whose works “Everyone I have Slept With” and “My Bed,” caused such outcry when they were exhibited leaving people to ask, how can a mattress with dirty sheets strewn with vodka bottles be called art? I have never been a fan of modern art. I don’t get it. But recently, I grasped an important understanding that helps me glimpse how truly artful these works are and in the process, learned something about myself.

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Is This Art?

Recently, I was at a graduation exhibition for my son who was finishing University after 3 years studying Digital Art and Technology. At the showcase event was the Fine Art department displays. While wandering through the gallery the exhibition pieces included a pile of old school desks found in a skip, three large trays of green jelly with wellington boots so you could stomp and splash to your hearts content and a coiled hessian tube full of rubbish. I found myself again asking the question again, do you call this art?

I Feel Fully Alive

The Forgotten Art of Public SpeakingIt is said that, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” so is art, in the eye of its creator? Vincent Van Gogh said, “The only time I feel alive is when I’m painting.” When I read that, something clicked in me. Just as I “feel alive” when I am public speaking, so must have those artists felt “fully alive” as they created their modern art pieces. I imagined the excitement and neurones firing as the student walked past the skip and to their utter amazement it was an “Aladdin’s Cave” of treasure and opportunity. In an instant, the simple sculpture existed in their mind, an idea was conceived and in due course, art was born. Perhaps the wry smile that crossed the face of the artist as she or he imagined the laughter, fun and smiles that would be created as people splashed around in green goo. Or the important statement that the artist was trying to communicate as they considered their ecological message wrapped up in a hessian sack. I am sure each one was “fully alive” when they were in the “artful” process of creation.

The world has become more beautiful because of the creation of art. I remember queueing for a considerable amount of time to view the Mona Lisa in Paris. As you stand and stare at this famous work of art, your world stops for a moment. Just oils on canvas change your world if only for a moment. When a collection of clauses, an assembly of adjectives and a set of sentences come together in a similar “artistic way,” it can change our world forever.

  • “I have a dream.”
  • “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
  • “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
  • “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

This Is Art

The Artful Speaker

I can fully resonate with those artists who certainly felt “fully alive” when they created, because I feel the same when I stand on my feet to deliver a speech that I have spend hours preparing and practising. I believe as strongly, and possibly as intensely as other “artists,” that being a public speaker, a skilful practised orator, is an art form. While I may not understand the intricacies of modern art, it does not detract from the truth that is it art. Today, the term, “The Arts” usually means visual arts, literary arts, performing arts, a group of people who are united by the human creative impulse to create. Once the artistic nature of rhetoric was elevated within society in a similar way, now it seems that while it is not totally a forgotten art, it lacks the prominence and place it deserves. That is where the Artful Speaker idea was born. My desire, objective and passion is to become the most effective “Artful Speaker” I can become and, in the process, help others to grow and achieve that same aim for themselves.

Seth Godin said, “Art can’t happen without someone who seeks to make a difference. This is your art, it’s what you do. You touch people or projects and change them for the better.” What about you? How do you see art? Is the desire to be an “Artful Speaker,” to be confident and eloquent on your feet something you too could resonate with? Are you an entrepreneur who wants to become a successful public speaker, or are you a public speaker who wants to be come a more successful entrepreneur, building a successful business from speaking? Let’s walk that path together! Please sign up for my newsletter and let’s help each other in the noble endeavour to raise the flag of rhetoric and oratory again as an art form.

Let’s start a conversation! You can email me here or tweet me here.

By Peter Billingham


Photo Credit: Futurilla via Compfight cc

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Posted on by Peter Billingham in Creativity, Legacy, Public Speaking, Speech Writing, Uncategorized

About Peter Billingham

Leader, Learner, Speechwriter, Storyteller, Author. a.k.a. 'The Artful Speaker' Enjoy working on social action projects, Toastmasters, films & adventure travel.

3 Responses to Is Public Speaking A Forgotten Art?

  1. Pingback: E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez » Changing the World One Idea at a Time

  2. Aaron

    As an aspiring public speaker I found this article very inspirational. I too, view public speaking as an art form that is under valued. Thank you for your words!

    • Peter Billingham

      Thanks Aaron – glad that you found it useful! Thanks for taking the time to comment, what kind of speaking do you do?

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