Friday, March 22nd, 2013
This advice from a father to his son away at university in the late 1800s is a worthy challenge to us all.
I hear indirectly that you’ve been called on to deliver an address or lecture or speech of some sort. Let us know all about it. The more thoughts you express, the more you will have, and there is no exercise of the mind that is so quickening and strengthening to all our mental faculties as carefully ranging and clearly expressing our thoughts on any subject worth thinking about.
I hope you, too, will take pains to acquire an excellent locution. Do learn to read well and speak well. Accustom yourself to speak extempore in common conversation. Cultivate the habit of saying exactly what you mean to say, of using clear and appropriate language, and of finishing your sentences. A slovenly, slipshod style in conversation will be very likely to insinuate itself into one’s extempore speeches.
Samuel Joseph May, brother of Abigail May Alcott.
Taken from Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother, by Eve LaPlante
I’d say this boils down to:
- Say what you mean;
- Mean what you say;
- Say it so it can be understood;
- Say it well (complete sentences and all).
Have you received or given any similar or very different advice?
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