In an earlier blog post of mine (10/16/2020), I defined Oratory as “the rationale and practice of persuasive public speaking.” Public Speaking is defined as “the art of effective oral communication with an audience.”
I have always had admiration and interest when it comes to Oratory. Many public speakers have acknowledged that Oratory is as much about the art of performance as it is about persuading others of the merits of one’s viewpoint.
Please indulge me while I elaborate upon that term, Public Speaking, by means of a story or two about elements that radically changed my youthful, naïve view of grand ways to live a purposeful life in service to others.
Years ago, I greatly wanted to be a public speaker. However, for starters (in my 20’s), I found myself drawn to the entire spectrum of Performing Arts. Singing, dancing, acting, writing (via book reviews, scripts, articles, what have you) led me to finish three university Performing Arts degrees, conservatory studies at Cleveland Institute of Music, and winning every level (but one) of the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council auditions.
The short story of that contrary “But One” is this:
My vocal coach/mentor called me in one day and, out of the blue, announced that he had decided to withdraw his recommendation that was required for my Met auditions. When I demanded and finally pleaded for reasons why, his harsh, long-winded delivery of a reason boiled down to this:
“Look, PenDell — Whereas I am quite certain that you could and would capture all those auditions (and I know how it’s done, because I’ve been there myself) — I am realizing that you are not equipped with all the right stuff needed to succeed as a professional opera singer.”
After a full minute, with me nonplussed and staring at him in disbelief, he said, “You, in no way, have the self-interest or self-centered heart not to be eaten alive by that competitive world. You are far too soft for sucker punches that hit you, fast and hard. Now is the time for you to release that untenable notion.”
In retrospect, I see that he was testing me in order to suss out this possibility: IF I was both willing and able, then and there, to countermand the likes of him, one who was marshaling a most acerbic surprise attack on my self-esteem — then, maybe with luck and some generous agent’s authoritative management, I just might survive in that perilous world of professional music-making.
A day later, he called me back with this verbal addendum: “I was thinking, What you would be ideally suited for is teaching vocal techniques — at the level that serious singers need to sustain a demanding career for years. I know that you are developing undeniable skills in that area of expertise.”
“Don’t just teach, one-on-one lessons. Teach and exercise small to medium-sized groups in both beginning and advanced classes. Then add individual coaching and mentoring for select students of your choosing.”
Honing that approach, aligning it with definiteness of purpose plus a trojan work ethic, and incessantly spreading the word, I was soon invited to concertize at a University, and afterward, to address students and faculty in its Performing Arts department on what it takes to sing classical music professionally.
When I arrived there, early afternoon, to check out the concert hall on campus, I was directed through a side door to the backstage area of the main auditorium.
Once in, I walked onto the stage lit by a single bulb suspended from above its center point. From there, I peered into the still pitch-black expanse of what must have been audience gallery beyond. Between the stage and the front-row seats, a forestage apron was one small step down.
As I began to soundcheck the hall’s acoustics, I was overcome by this chance opportunity to orate! “Unaccustomed as I am to Public Speaking …”, I bellowed, as I high-step marched onto the broad, inviting, yet dark forestage before me.
Except it wasn’t a forestage; it was the Orchestra Pit! WO-AH ..! (Crash)
Mangled were several music stands, imploded was the kettle drum that broke my fall, and utterly deflated was my pride-filled ego!
During a quiet month taken off between tours to iron out the “Pit Man” aches and pains in my body, mind, and heart, two realizations came to me:
“Firstly, whereas I had been so privileged to perform music of great composers, lyricists, and other singers — I now deeply desired to author, compose, perform, and produce my own original artistic creations. In doing so, I resolved to live and work, fully and ongoingly, in every facet of ‘my world’ on earth.”
And moreover, whereas I had once intended to practice Public Speaking, I was now increasingly conscious of what I called “The Power in Private Speaking”:
— Thoughts behind Words verging on the “Ineffable” (what is beyond words);
— Depths of Emotion that inspire creative, self-governed Thought; And …
— Attunement with the Source Energy that imbues core Consciousness in Man.
In my recent experience — on July 1st, I have begun a 10-week hiatus with Toastmasters, my speakers and leaders club, while Melanie and I are amidst moving from Fort Collins to Thornton (an hour’s drive south) — closer to our children and new grandson in the Denver suburbs of Park Hill and Aurora. (Those three neighborhoods are all just minutes apart in the Denver metro).
In addition, I am rehearsing for a male duo, one-act play, Swan Song by Anton Chekhov, opposite Jonathan Farwell, a veteran film, TV, and Broadway actor. Performances will take place in Fort Collins on August 7th & 8th.
Internally, I feel and know a deep Peace that frees up external elements — like the “How, What, Where, When, and Why of things, material and immaterial.
More specifically, I sense that my “private speaking” is most powerful when it is held in quiet, yet radiant essence. For example, I frequently have visions of things possible, and, within a day or two, I will hear of someone else I know (or know of, at least) taking ahold of that vision and making it real and operable.
Hence, I am assured that, in the “bigger picture”, Cosmic forces are actually in charge, enfolding and embracing this world of ours. They move with us to the exact extent to which our balancing out of true reception over human resistance creates rewarding restorations, while releasing untoward trials & tribulations.
In my experience, “dis-ease” stems from a lack of ease. Therefore, I choose Ease as a pleasure, a privilege, and hence, a Priority. And my physical body (a willing servant of my heart, mind, and soul) reaps the rewards given it.
Let All Be (Privately) Spoken; And, By Heavens, All is Done!