Persuade with power is the focus for Speech 9 in the Competent Communicator manual. The ability to persuade, to get other people to understand, accept, and act upon your ideas, is a valuable skill. Your listeners will be more likely to be persuaded if they perceive you as credible, if you use logic and emotion in your appeal, if you carefully structure your speech and if you appeal to their interests. Avoid using notes because they may cause listeners to doubt your sincerity, knowledge, and conviction. The objectives of speech 9 are: –
– Persuade listeners to adopt your viewpoint or ideas or to take some action.
– Appealing to the audience’s interests.
– Use logic and emotion to support your position.
– Avoid using notes.
For my speech 9, delivered on 7 January 2013, I focused on the disappearing art of letter writing to try and persuade my listeners to write a letter inside of an email. This is the speech I gave.
Toastmaster, fellow toastmaster and welcome guests.
With the art of letter writing fast becoming, I believe, a thing of the past, I took to the internet to investigate further. In my quest for validation I came across Emily Post and her book on Etiquette, published in 1922. One chapter is given over to the writing of longer letters and indeed she opens the chapter with the lines “THE ART of general letter-writing in the present day is shrinking until the letter threatens to become a telegram, a telephone message, a post-card. Since the events of the day are transmitted in newspapers with far greater accuracy, detail, and dispatch than they could be by the single effort of even Voltaire himself, the circulation of general news, which formed the chief reason for letters of the stage-coach and sailing-vessel days, has no part in the correspondence of to-day”.
Ms. Post goes on to describe the different types and styles of letters, the do’s and don’ts for gentlemen and ladies corresponding, how to start and end a letter, and most importantly what not to write!
In the ninety years since this publication, computers and the internet have become a way of life. In the fast paced digital world we now live in you can like, follow, pin, and tweet. Abbreviations have become commonplace in our messaging and emails are business-like and to the point.
From an early age we are taught our “abc”. Children bring home works of art they have created. An I Love You written in crayon on a coloured piece of paper is a precious gift from a child. And yet as the years pass these masterpieces dwindle, homework and life takes over and the imaginative gene is quashed. It is all too easy nowadays to pick up the phone and ring someone, be they minutes away or residing on the opposite side of the globe. For those who have emigrated to distant shores there is skyping and built in cameras and microphones on laptops and ipads give you the visual and audio experience of talking to someone as if they were sitting next to you.
Notwithstanding all that, nothing is more powerful than the written word. And yes while there is email what memento is this years later? How often do we go back and reread old emails from friends. A box of old letters can be a treasure trove, with words presenting images and producing nostalgia of happy times spent together.
Letter writing has also proven popular in the film industry. From P.S. I Love You where Hilary Swank receives letters from her deceased husband, encouraging her to open herself up to life and love again, to the Lake House, where Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves correspond through time to “Message in a Bottle” with Kevin Costner. Some may describe these films as “chick flicks” but no one can deny their popularity. And of course who could forget Carrie in Sex and the City who is eventually won back by receiving copies of famous love letters from Mr. Big.
On further searching the internet I came across another project. Created in 2011 by artist Ivan Cash, the “Snail Mail My Email” project was launched in which 234 volunteers collectively sent 10,457 letters to 70 countries over a month-long span. This project aims to reignite the lost art of letter writing, reminding us of the power of personal connection in a digital world. The project has since transitioned to a week-long event that takes place annually. The next installment is tentatively scheduled for Autumn 2013. To date, a total of 431 volunteers have collectively sent 13,968 letters across the world.
To misquote the song I’m gonna sit right down and write myself an email doesn’t quite have the same impact as writing a letter, and love emails straight from your heart really doesn’t ring true. So I ask you, or dare I say urge you, to take the time to sit down with pen and paper and write a letter. Be it long or short, to a family member or friend, write of old days, and times spent together. I can promise you this, the reader of that letter will never regret receiving it, and who knows…it may be the start of a lifelong correspondence.
Well I hope you enjoyed this speech as much as I enjoyed giving it. If you have any comments or questions do please contact me and I will be delighted to discuss.
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