Should Public Speaking Be Part of the College Curriculum?

I was quoted in a Harvard Crimson article about the role of spoken rhetoric in the liberal arts curriculum.

Here is an excerpt:

So what is spoken rhetoric anyway? An art? A practical skill? Steven D. Cohen, who holds a faculty appointment at the Harvard Extension School, where he teaches “Oral Communication In the Workplace,” splits spoken rhetoric into two components.

“On a basic level, there’s what you say and how you say it. But what I write about is the music beneath the words,” Cohen said. Vocal performances have a clear connection to spoken rhetoric, but Cohen said that even music without lyrics can provide models for speaking.

“There are elements that both speakers and musicians use: tempo, dynamics, pitch, for instance. And a couple of my research articles look at the technique that composers use to create beautiful pieces of classical music, and the techniques that leaders use to create memorable moments,” he said. “So my central argument is that we ought not just consider the words that speakers use, but the music they use to coat those words.”

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