I am barely literate in English, compared to David Crystal and to review the acknowledged leading public linguist of England is clearly beyond my pay grade and uppity in the extreme. So I won’t attempt a critique, but just say how much I enjoyed having Debbie read this to me as my bedtime lullaby.
I have near zero experience in speaking to groups of people gathered together on some subject. Some classroom experience, yes, but that is easy and formalized by routine. David Crystal, in The Gift of the Gab, gives advice based on decades of personal experience on how to speak to specific groups and situations: introducing speakers, thanking speakers, presenting awards, receiving awards, toasts, weddings, political, debates, broadcasting, podcasts, impromptu, and more.
My personal group experience is in coffee shops, and that is always a free-for-all, with little formalized control. Now that I think of it, I wish Crystal had given some of his wisdom on how to talk in coffee shops, bars, street corners, at home, at dinner, dinner with friends, and lots of other daily speaking situations. How to butt in when others are talking too long, how to retreat gracefully when wrong about something, how to depart cordially from a venue. How to relate to panhandlers, policemen, café waitresses, and loads of everyday situations. Well, those situations are outside of the scope of this present book, and perhaps if he writes another one, those multitudes of social interactions will be given some consideration.
He illustrated a method of writing and speaking which I had never encountered. It was how Winston Churchill typed out his speeches. For example, his speech ending “If this British Empire and Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’” is laid out in an indented style that helps clarify the intonation and verbal flow of the words. I liked that so much I wrote it out for yesterday’s blog post. The day before I wrote a short essay called, Just “Who will you be?” in that layout format. Today I read it to five writer-friends. They responded well to the various quips and subtleties that were written into the Churchillized text. Those subtleties are usually missed when reading from normally written text. Subtle intonations and emphasis make a huge difference in spoken presentations. Thank you David Crystal for showing me that technique.
It feels good to have a hearty response to a bit of writing from a group of writers.