Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/235

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

an investigation or a journey, forms the natural basis for a presentation of this kind. Such a diary should include the writer's reflections as well as his observations; it should contain due account of such subjective matters as personal adventures, with their difficulties and successes, as well as of more objective matters, such as landscapes, climate, people, books, maps and so on. A judicious selection from a diary of this kind will suffice to give a good impression of the physical and mental path followed by an explorer or investigator, and of the varied experiences encountered along it, as well as of the results attained at its end. Appropriate emphasis should be placed upon items of greater importance, so as to prevent too monotonous a recital. The hearers will be aided in understanding the speaker's work, if a clear statement of the object sought is made at the beginning, and a succinct summary of the results gained is presented at the end.

The narrative method is certainly simpler than any other, as to composition and delivery; it is therefore the one which a student may adopt to advantage, the first time he is to make an oral report in a conference. It is also particularly appropriate when entertainment rather than demonstration is intended; hence it is often employed at large popular meetings of geographical societies. In such cases, colloquial rather than technical terms, and an empirical rather than an explanatory style of description are usually employed; but a technical and explanatory style may be used in narration, without stopping for definitions and demonstrations, if the speaker prefers it and if the hearers may be fairly expected to understand it. Under such conditions a general explanatory summary, presented at the beginning without argument or proof, serves well as an introduction. Space for such a summary can often be gained by omitting apologetic introductory remarks.

The narrative method is appropriate in scientific gatherings when the successive steps of home study or the successive events of a journey are of so exceptional a nature as to be as interesting as the results to which they led. Such, however, will seldom be the case in the work of university students, to whom this supplement is addressed; they will therefore seldom have occasion to employ the narrative method after first practise in it, as above indicated: but it is certainly profitable for every student to make at least one intentional trial in narrative, in order to learn something of its quality and value from his own experience in preparing and presenting it, and from the behavior of his audience in listening to it and commenting upon it. If it costs a speaker some regrets to omit certain items of personal experience, in order to compress his report into the time allotted for it, he may be comforted on realizing that his hearers will not share his regrets, because they will be unaware that anything of interest has been omitted. If, however, his narrative arouses animated questioning at its end, he may