Book Title: A GUIDE TO DEBATES & PUBLIC SPEAKING
Author: Chris O. O. Biose
Publishers: BOLD Publishers Ltd, Asaba, Delta State
Cover Price: N10,000.00
Reviewer: Mr. Bonny Akaeze, Programs Co-Ordinator
Foundation for Non-Violent Social Change (FNSC)
Asaba, Delta State, Nigeria.
Looking at its title, this book, A Guide to Debates & Public Speaking connotes a publication dealing with literary devices in public communication engagements particularly debates and public speaking activities, but it is far more than what the title reflects. The book goes beyond the literary devices to indeed serve as a guide to the philosophy, principles, ethics and etiquette of public communication as inevitable and indispensable tool of social life.
Humans by nature are community beings who must liv together and coexist in order to survive. In this inevitable interdependence, are differences competing for balance and which are inherently conflictual. According to Daniel Dana in his book; Managing Differences: How to Build Better Relationships at Work and Home, in interpersonal conflicts, we have only two versions of the truth to choose between – yours and mine and we may vigorously debate whose version is the correct one. So it is a fundamental requirement of civilized interpersonal interaction to be equipped with communication skills in the official language of one’s micro and macro community. This is because interpersonal communication is the life blood of human society. Peace, harmony and sustainable public order in the face of our heterogeneities are dependent on the impressions we leave in the minds of people with whom we share interdependence and these impressions are created through the content and style of our daily communication.
The author points out that more often than not, those lacking in effective and efficient communication skills resort to coercive tactics to deal with even minor conflicts. In contrast, those who have cultivated great communication skills especially elocution, logical presentation, flawless expression of thought with aesthetic principles of diction, employ their speech power in dealing with differences because they are persuasive, and therefore rely on cognitive rather coercive power. This book is therefore not just a guide to debates and organized public speaking; it is a handbook of the demonstration of cognitive power through public communication.
Part 1 of the book is made up of seven chapters and deals with basic principles and techniques of debating from the college or high school level of schooling. The focus is on debates, argument and logical fallacies, art of oratory, rhetorical devices and the ethics and etiquette of public discourse.
Part 2 which comprises eighteen chapters (Chapters 8-25) deals with craft of debate and public speaking. It takes its readers on a brief historical excursion into the art and highlights some landmark debate events both physical and virtual as well as some famous and legendary public speeches such as Caesar’s funeral oration by Mark Anthony in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech delivered on August 28, 1963 by the African-American civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jnr at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, USA.
This section of the book covers every aspect of an organized debate event from preparation, participation, moderation and scoring to the overall management of such events. The icing on the cake for this book is the concluding chapter (Chapter 25) which advocates for the need to institutionalize debates in Nigeria as a fundamental panacea for the entrenchment of democratic culture in the country. This advocacy is as germane as it is apt because free and organized contestation of ideas remains the fulcrum on which sustainable democracy revolves in every civilized society.
In agreement with the saying of Francis Bacon which is quoted by this author that, ‘some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested’, this book no doubt belongs to those few books to be chewed and digested. It is recommended for all students from the college level of formal education, public speakers such as politicians, solicitors and advocates, negotiators, arbitrators, mediators, diplomats and other conflict managers, journalists, development and rights activists, evangelists and preachers, opinion leaders and public policy drivers etc. In fact it is a book that should be found in every standard book shelf in every library and home.