On Wednesday October 26, 2011, Bill Moyers, an award-winning journalist and documentary producer, gave a speech called The Truth of Your Life. Bill Moyers received two introductions before his speech; one from Robert Henry, the President of Oklahoma City University, and Doctor Robin Myers, one from Moyers’s good friend as well as a professor of rhetoric at Oklahoma City University. Robert Henry gave a small introduction to Bill Moyers, but then introduced Doctor Robin Myers because Myers was the one who asked Bill Moyers to speak in the series. Doctor Myers talked about some of Bill Moyers’s accomplishments and told a short story about an event that had happened the previous day. Myers asked Moyers to eat dinner with his family, and Moyers said he would on one condition; he had to wash the dishes. Myers ends his story by saying, he took a picture of Moyers washing the dishes on his phone. Just from listening to the introductions by President Henry and Doctor Myers, I realized one can learn a lot from Bill Moyers. He has lived a long life through much of the United States of America’s modern history. I went into the speech blind and did not know anything about Bill Moyers nor the topic of his speech, but I found him to be a very interesting man and wanted to hear what he had to say in his speech.
Bill Moyers spoke about whether or not people should be optimistic in our modern world when everything seems to be falling apart. The audience appeared to contain mainly men and women in their late 30s and older, but many college students listened to the speech as well. I was surprised to see that big of an audience listening to the speech. The floor of the gym had seating, presumably for faculty, staff, and press. Every seat had been taken. On the left side of the gym, when entering from the main entrance, almost every bleacher seat was full, but on the right side of the gym, plenty of seats could be found. Most of the audience, those older than late 20s, dressed in more proper attire like suits, dresses and polos with khakis. It seemed sort of odd that members of the audience would dress up for the speech, except for the University’s faculty and staff. His speech topic seemed appropriate for the range of ages that attended his speech. It is hard for college students and adults to not think about the world’s troubles and to wonder if things will be better in the future.
Bill Moyers gave his speech in the Henry J. Freede Wellness and Activity Center on the Oklahoma City University Campus. He spoke as a part of the annual Distinguished Speakers Series on invitation from his good friend Doctor Robin Myers. The Distinguished Speakers Series is an opportunity for the University’s students, faculty, and members of the community to listen to difference accredited speakers. These speakers come from different backgrounds and perspectives, as well as different places around the globe.
The purpose of Moyers’s speech was to inform the audience about the case for and against being optimistic in today’s world where everything seems to be falling apart. He provided quality information on both sides. He did not try to persuade the audience into choosing one side over the other, neither did he come off as persuasive. He achieved his purpose very well.
Throughout his speech, Bill Moyers uses one story as the basis of his topic. He tells of his experience on the day of the 2011 Tuscan shooting where U.S. Representative Gabrielle Gifford. That day Moyers sat in a hospital waiting room while awaiting an MRI beside a woman, while watching the news coverage on television. She asked him whether or not he was optimistic about the United States. Moyers struggled to give her an answer, but eventually he did. In the final moments of his speech, he says he wished he had given her a more courageous answer. This story was effective because Moyers centered his entire speech around it.
Bill Moyers exhibited excellent platform behavior as he spoke. He stood up straight and did not slouch. Moyers did not move his hands all that much when he spoke. Instead he would hold on to the podium, except for when he pulled out a newspaper to show the audience and when he turned the pages of his manuscript. Although he read from his manuscript quite a bit, Moyers always kept eye contact for more than just a few seconds. He constantly looked up from his manuscript and then would look back down to read more. In his suit, Moyers looked almost like a stiff board, but he appeared to be very comfortable being on stage in front of a big audience and giving a speech. Moyers knew when and how to change the pitch and volume of his voice. In more serious parts of his speech, his voice would lower, while in more boisterous parts, he would raise his voice and chuckle. Moyers is very eloquent and strong in his speaking. In his speech, he used a few metaphors, such as the United States of America is like a ship floundering in the ocean similar to the Titanic, as well as describing the United States to be a paradise built in hell. He did not stumble upon any words as he spoke, and always paused at the correct places. His talking speed kept constant; he neither sped up nor slowed down. All of his speaking techniques provided a superb speech!
Bill Moyers is an excellent public speaker! He knows how to captivate an audience and how to continue to keep its attention. His audience enjoyed his speech so much that during several parts of his speech, the audience stood up and clapped very loudly. In between the ending of the speech and the questions and answers session, Bill Moyers received a long standing ovation. I also very much enjoyed the speech because not only is Bill Moyers a great speaker, but he brought up some points that I highly agree with in concern with politics and the economy.