Public speaking is used to inform, persuade, entertain, and motivate people for action. No other skill has the potential to bring more opportunity into life than the ability to speak well in public. Good speakers have the ability to treat meek subjects with fineness, moderate topics smoothly, and lofty ideas memorably. Oratory has evolved over time from a Latin rhetoric to the political debates in the Roman Empire and continued as such into the 20th century. Since talking without thinking is also like shooting without taking aim, speech has a ‘grabber, middle and close’. Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to hold their listeners’ attention. You need to grasp the content, know your audience and the set-up (area, audio-visual aids) before rehearsing your speech as much as you can. When the time comes, stand up, and deliver the best speech of your life with a smile on your face. The world as we know today is shaped by the speeches delivered by famous speakers. My old favourites are — ‘Socrates apology (399 BC)’, ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ (Jesus Christ, AD 30), and ‘Prophet Muhammad’s Farewell Address’ (AD 632). The great speeches we missed in person were — ‘The Gettysburg Address’ (Lincoln, 1863), ‘Power to the Soviets’ (Lenin, 1917), ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat’ (Churchill, 1940), ‘I have a dream’ (King, 1963), and ‘An idea for which I am prepared to die’ (Mandela, 1964). He may not have lived up to our expectations but nobody has spoken better (and consistently so) than Barak Obama in my lifetime. We have all heard of our great public speakers: Muhammad Ali Johar, Jawaharlal Nehru and Attaullah Shah Bukhari. All of them were highly intelligent political minds and leading activists against the British Raj. I had the pleasure of listening to the last of that brand, Shorush Kashmiri. He had held the vast audience for several hours at Dhobi Ghat (Lyallpur) so entranced that when he left the platform, in the early hours of the morning, no one moved. He was witty, he was droll and so eloquent — full of sentiment as an old harmonium. Often, he paused, smiled, and the audience, in anticipation of what was to come, broke into irresistible laughter. I cannot remember what he said, but the impression he made upon me was enduring. ZA Bhutto was the Shakespeare of oratory — the greatest that Pakistan would ever see. He had charisma and charm; and a unique language which cannot be learned or practiced. How radiant, how colourful, and how blinding was his delivery in Urdu and English? He lived so far in advance of his time. He fought for the transformation of our world; and long after the last echo of destruction is silenced, his name will be worshiped. Some of us saw him speak on several occasions — ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ Bhutto inspired the next generation of Pakistani politicians including his daughter Benazir. I cannot discuss Benazir due to professional antiquate. Nawaz Sharif is known to have watched Bhutto’s videos repeatedly. He has since developed, with some help from his wife, a decent style of his own. Irfan Siddiqi and Khursheed Nadeem have written his formal speeches but others he writes on his own. Those who saw him speak when he started, attest that “His brain started working the moment he was born and never stopped until he stood up to speak in public.” Z A Bhutto was the Shakespeare of oratory — the greatest that Pakistan would ever see. He had charisma and charm; and a unique language which cannot be learned or practiced. How radiant, how colourful, and how blinding was his delivery in Urdu and English? He lived so far in advance of his time Shehbaz Sharif is the closest proponent of Bhutto’s style of public speaking. Some of his personality traits, including temperament, are also similar. His outfits, rolled up sleeves, mic-smashing and emotionally charged delivery — all point in the same direction. Because of being shy, Imran Khan used to be a terrible speaker. Many tried but gave up educating him because he could not follow. People detect when you’re pretending or adopting a style that isn’t yours, Khan just embraced who he is. He now speaks well because his tongue delivers the message of his heart. This language is simple but full of power — no art of rhetoric can teach it. Since he talks little if it is not about him, he uses personal anecdotes — one good anecdote is worth a volume of biography. The authenticity he brings to the story lets him relate to the audience and vice versa. Shah Mehmood Qureshi is the best speaker in Pakistani politics by a mile. He has the ideal grip on languages, liberal substance and a remarkable style. I like him better when he speaks extempore; otherwise, it appears slightly artificial due to his cautious nature. As a friend, he might not agree but a stint in the Foreign Office has lessened him as politician by dampening his flair. Nonetheless, Benazir Bhutto used to say that he reminded her of her father. Two bright political stars have arisen on the public speaking horizon in the last couple of years. Maryam Nawaz has surprised everyone except this scribe who predicted her rise since 2012. I cannot discuss her due to a conflict of interest. She desperately needs luck for once because she runs out of it rather quickly. Bilawal, on the other hand, is no surprise. He has everything a great public speaker dreams of — charisma, intellect and skill. It is time he forgets about reading written speeches and invents a style of his own, just like his grandfather. Health permitting, he is destined to dominate the Pakistani political scene after the next elections. He desperately needs help though from someone I know (and his name is not Asif Zardari). The writer is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Visiting Professor. He tweets @AamerSarfarz Published in Daily Times, May 21st 2018.