When I started working as a Language Studies professor at Mohawk College in the early aughts, I did not like the idea of talking in a public forum. I was always more of a Teller than a Penn. I studied my subject matter, and then wrote out entire scripts of each of my lessons and decided to I was going to be chained to my dais, and that’s that.
Over time, I let go of the dais and walked around the room, so that students in the back couldn’t hide away from me and have little private gabfests. That meant I had to forego scripts, and by then, I was confident enough to just use overheads as reminders.
Eventually, I could give lectures with any aids or props at all. No notes, nothing.
It helped that I gave the same basic speech — making it constant practice.
If I were a world leader, I don’t think I would be so brazen. I did teach public speaking, and I always warned students to have a back-up plan in case everything that could go awry during a speech, did.
So the press going on about Donald Trump’s crib notes is just silly. Barack Obama used a TelePrompter, and it didn’t always work, either — but if you are giving a speech to the entire world, I would expect some form of aid and back-up.
I never understood the Right’s obsession with Obama’s TelePrompter, nor those in the press who called him out for it — television anchors use them. They are there so you can not worry about blanking out in the middle of a speech — and as someone who taught students how to give speeches — I have seen my share of otherwise confident and smart young people blank in the middle of a presentation — and what they usually blanked on was the things they otherwise knew cold.
The use of speaking aids is not news: it is the method of conveying information. A speech is essentially a press release with a face — or an audio book version of one. It’s a petty, nothing thing to talk about — there are real things happening and unravelling as they are imploding — that’s what needs to be covered.
You can have the best speech and deliver it flawlessly — but if you are facing dangers all around you — words will not change anything. It’s about action.
But for the press — it was also about uncovering inaction; unfortunately, their own inaction and relying on stories that require no research, that contributed to the problems facing the world now.