In a recent edition of The Los Angeles Times, Eric Scerri writes about the ordinariness of science, saying:
science isn’t unusual. Like life itself, it progresses by trial and error. It depends on humans simply trying things out, even if its practitioners don’t always want to admit it. Science is what we know to the best of our human abilities. … Even the rarefied field of atomic theory is built on human error and serendipity, on non-geniuses randomly groping around.
This is relevant to The Science of Speaking in several ways.
First, as I note in the book, the ability to speak well doesn’t require genius. Just as practicing science simply requires a working knowledge of the scientific method, speaking well simply requires a working knowledge of the fundamental tools of the trade. It’s hard to make fire if you’re rubbing two sticks—not so hard if you have a box of matches. Learning the skills of effective speaking is like filling up your box with matches. While it’s true that some people start with their box mostly filled, and others start with their boxes mostly empty, it’s also true that everyone can work to fill theirs.
Second, the science of speaking is not some perfect, unchanging body of knowledge that has been passed down from on high. It’s simply the result of human research, collated by human teachers (i.e., me). Anyone—yes, that means you—can contribute to it, by practicing the scientific method, or in other words, “simply trying things out” and seeing what patterns you can find. As you give presentations, try different things, and see what works best for you and your audiences.
If you find anything interesting that you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to let me know. Your insights may even be featured in the blog, or in future editions of the book!