Thursday, October 1, 2009

A flare for introducing speakers?

Sometimes you find typographical errors that are unintentionally hilarious. A spelling checker may not catch them all. In July, I mentioned finding pubic speaking in the title of a blog post. You also can become aroused if you listen to National Pubic Radio (NPR).

While preparing last week's post on Introducing a Speaker I found this gem on page 242 of Jeffrey P. Davidson’s book, The Complete Guide to Public Speaking:

“Start with the basic assumption that your introducer is not skilled in this area, ill at ease in making introductions, and prefers to do anything else. Then, if you encounter someone who has a flare for introducing speakers, you’re ahead of the game.”

If you encounter someone who has a flare for introducing speakers, you should proceed with extreme caution. When you shake hands, you might get badly burned! Of course, Mr. Davidson meant to say flair. The striking image is from Peacemaker.

We have added something the ancient Greeks did not mention about public speaking. Along with ethos, pathos, and logos we now have typos.


Jeff Davidson said...

flare "a sudden outburst (as of excitement or anger)"


Jeff Davidson said...

Verb: same source

"to express strong emotion"

Richard I. Garber said...

If you look up flair in the Merriam Webster online dictionary, it has a primary meaning of “a skill or instinctive ability to appreciate or make use of something.” A second similar meaning is “a uniquely attractive quality.” The first meaning for flair fits perfectly with the context of the quotation.

If you look up flare (noun) in Merriam Webster, you find six meanings. The first one is “a fire or blaze of light used especially to signal, illuminate or attract attention” or also “a device or composition used to produce such a flare.” The second meaning is “an unsteady glaring light.” The third meaning is “a sudden outburst (as of excitement or anger), and is what Mr. Davison quoted.” The fourth meaning is “a spreading outward.” The fifth meaning is “light resulting from reflection (as between lens surfaces).” The sixth meaning from sports is “a short pass in football thrown to a back who is running toward the sideline”, or “a weakly hit fly ball in baseball.”

I apparently assumed incorrectly that Mr. Davidson was trying to use a noun (flair) with a clear, unambiguous meaning, but had simply misspelled it. So, I interpreted it by the first meaning. If his advice is to use an introducer prone to sudden outbursts, then I think his advice is questionable.