Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident. How can anyone ever hope to storm the fortress of fear if he goes into battle with defective weapons or with no ammunition at all? “I believe,” said Lincoln, “that I shall never be old enough to speak without embarrassment when I have nothing to say.” – Dale Carnegie; The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking
Dale Breckenridge Carnegie was an American lecturer and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills. He was a contemporary of Napoleon Hill and one of the first motivational speakers and self-help writers in history. Although I’ve been influenced by the writing and thoughts of Carnegie through other writers for several years this was the first time I’ve actually read any of his writing directly.
As a result of Carnegie’s status in the self-help and corporate training world nothing I read in this book really came as a surprise. I’m sure his writing was new and innovative at the time but it sure isn’t today. I had to stop on a number of occasions and remind myself that Carnegie’s advice wasn’t so much tired as it is tried and true. The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking was originally published posthumously in 1962 as a compilation of various articles and advice written by Carnegie as early as 1912.
That being said, I did learn something reading this book. I can’t say it’s new information for me but it was re-framed and presented in a way that was new(ish) to me at least. It has to do with where you find your confidence in order to speak at all.
Over the years I have struggled with the whole idea of confidence and arrogance. I’ve been accused of being arrogant in my knowledge of things. When I am confident that I know something completely I have a tendency to come across as arrogant. I know this because my wife has a way of grabbing me by the ear and “whispering” for me to shut up. I am eternally grateful to her for doing this from time to time, even if my earlobes get a bit stretched out of shape as a result. But as I have learned to temper my arrogance I have struggled to maintain a measure of confidence. At times fear, especially fear of appearing arrogant has prevented me from speaking up at all.
So the thing I learned from Carnegie was in order to be confident (which is not the same as arrogance) one must be prepared before he speaks.
But there is nothing new under the sun. I actually learned that from the apostle Peter, Carnegie just reminded me of it.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, [1 Peter 3:15]
Gentleness and respect, confidence without arrogance, that’s what Peter taught and I that’s the whole message of The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking.
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