The first commitment when giving a speech is to tell the truth. Maybe not the truth in its entirety or a big, world-transforming truth. Maybe just the truth as we know it.
Of course, this rule has been violated throughout history.
In every age, people have mounted podiums and pulpits to spread lies, misinformation, and half-truths. They’ve done so to justify unjust wars, to provoke religious intolerance, to promote discrimination and oppression, to rouse the masses to unthinking violence, to condone unconscionable acts.
Sadly, all too many leaders today — in politics, religion, business — show a less than whole-hearted commitment to the truth.
The disregard of truth in public speaking seems to have gotten worse these days. When confronted with irrefutable facts that contradict their assertions, there are those who simply shrug it off or — worse — double down on what they’ve said as if repeating an error makes it right.
Deceit in public discourse harms both the speaker and the audience and — in the long run — harms public speaking itself.
All the more reason, in my opinion, to speak the truth. To get the facts right. To use reason and logic in piecing together an argument. To choose our words with care, seeking clarity and accuracy. To value being right over winning.