Other Wind
23 / March23 / March23 / March

Grenville’s Letter

…Let me rid your mind at once of the erroneous idea that this study is a difficult one. Public speaking is mainly conversation elevated and enlarged to suit the special occasion. The greatest speakers in the world spoke well in their daily speech, by means of which they had constant practise and training in the art of expression….

…Never descend in your speech. A single foolish remark may forever lower you in the eyes of others. To be known as a “funny man” is likely to prove disastrous to serious achievement….

My supervisor found this great letter among our unprocessed Circuit Court cases. It comes from Grenville Kleiser (what a solid name) at The Public Speaking Club of America (founded 1908, New York City). Mr. Kleiser did not date the letter and only refers to the addressee as “sir,” so we have no way at present of knowing which case it fits into. I find the letter, which is really an introductory speaking lesson, very entertaining. I am not a good speaker. I get nervous and talk fast, and I second-guess myself way too much. I can’t even read aloud very well. I’m sure I’ve been “forever lowered” in the eyes of a few others, especially those like my friend George, the poet, who, even in his “daily speech,” speaks as easily as water flows. But that’s OK. I can take it. My skin needs to get a little tougher anyway.