Sunday, August 30, 2009

Was Churchill just joking when he said he imagined the audience was naked?

In my previous post on this topic I quoted from page 17 in Chapter 2 (Fear is Your Friend) of James C. Humes’s 1991 book The Sir Winston Method that:

“By the way, Churchill, as a psychological antidote, used to look out at his audience and imagine that they were all naked.”

Mr. Humes continued by saying that:

“Actually Churchill worked out a more practical formula to master fear.”

You can read his book for details of the rest of his Churchill-based advice in the following three paragraphs, titled Mask Your Mannerisms, Don’t Make Excuses, and Master Your Material.

So, Mr. Humes clearly didn’t think much of just imagining the audience naked. (Neither did Denise Graveline in a post on her The Eloquent Woman blog on this August 26).

But, was Churchill being serious when he said that? Perhaps he was only joking. It certainly is possible that people have been passing on as serious advice what originally was intended as a joke. Maybe that’s why Winston is barely smiling in the picture shown above.

In a very long blog post on The Mysterious Dread of Public Speaking Mark Dillof claims that:

“Dale Carnegie recommends, in one of his primers of public speaking, that the fearful speaker imagine that each and every person in his or her audience are sitting there stark naked.”

He doesn’t say which one though. I looked, but couldn’t find it by a Google Book Search either in The Art of Public Speaking or The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking. However, in the 2007 book Get 'Em Laughing: Public Speaking Humor, Quotes and Illustrations by E. Gene Davis, on page 70 he said of his wife that:

“…She told me it was an old trick learned many years ago in a Dale Carnegie Public Speaking course. She was told to imagine that her audience was naked.”

So, perhaps the same advice was promulgated by someone in the Dale Carnegie organization.

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