Articles by Andrew Dlugan:


Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark will help you communicate better, whether writing speeches, reports, handouts, or articles.

As I breezed through Writing Tools, I confessed to my wife that I felt inspired to write. Thus, the book achieved the rare feat of delivering on the promise of the front cover review (from the Boston Globe): “Writers will be inspired to pick up their pens.”

This article is one of a series of public speaking book reviews from Six Minutes.

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Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.
— Immanuel Kant

There are many types of bad speakers, and this article is about two of them:

  1. Speakers who bury audiences in an avalanche of data without providing the significance.
  2. Speakers who discuss theories and ideals, completely detached from real-world practicalities.

Both of these speakers fail because they don’t understand the ladder of abstraction.

In this article, we define the ladder of abstraction, give several examples, and explore why it is important for all speakers. Then, we explore specific strategies that you can apply to improve the balance and understanding in your presentations.

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One of the most frequent questions I receive from Six Minutes readers breaks down to a very basic idea:  “How can I make money speaking?

For example, a recent question from Tanya M. asks:

A few years ago, I hated speaking in public. But I’ve been giving presentations quite a bit at work, and I’m getting compliments on my skills now. […] I’d like to know about ways that I can make money speaking in the future.

Can you help?

In this article, we examine 5 common ways that speakers make money. The good news is that Tanya — and you — can tap into any of them.

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The signature of a persuasive speech is a clear call-to-action.

Yet many speakers miss a fantastic opportunity with a call-to-action that is wishy-washy, hypothetical, or ill-constructed. Even worse, some speakers omit the call-to-action entirely.

A poor call-to-action undermines the effectiveness of your speech; a great call-to-action stirs your audience to act enthusiastically.

In this article, we reveal the qualities of a strong speech call-to-action which will lead your audience to act.

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When listening to a speech, have you ever:

  • wondered “how does this relate to that?”
  • felt the speaker jumped randomly from one point to the next?
  • gotten totally lost?

If you’ve experienced this, there’s a very good chance that the speaker failed to use appropriate speech transitions.

In this article, we define speech transitions and learn why they are so critical. In addition, we provide dozens of speech transition examples that you can incorporate into your speech.

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I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

That’s my favorite quotation from one of the most famous speeches of all time: Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream“. I love not only the line’s message, but also the alliteration of the “k” sound: color, skin, content, character.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.

See our previously published speech analysis where you can watch the video, study the speech transcript, and learn five lessons in speechwriting.

For decades, popular opinion pegged Bill Gates as a mediocre presenter.

That all changed on February 5, 2009, when he unleashed one of the most memorable props ever on his audience: live mosquitos.

In this article, we discuss:

  • key benefits of props,
  • how to choose a prop, and
  • how to use it effectively in a speech.

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If you give a great speech, but nobody can hear you, does it really count?

Before your message can transform your audience, the sound of your voice must be heard by your audience. It sounds really simple, but I’m shocked by how often I have to strain to hear a presenter.

In this article, we examine strategies for being heard and varying speech volume to improve your effectiveness.

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Do you ever find yourself wishing that your audience understood you better? Do you have difficulty conveying your great ideas clearly?

One of the most important writing techniques I ever learned was parallelism. Parallelism leads to clear writing, and clear writing leads to clear speaking.

In this article, we define parallelism, study numerous examples, and discuss how you can incorporate it into your speeches.

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Your eye contact impacts your ability to connect with your audience and, by extension, your effectiveness as a speaker. In this article, we offer simple strategies for producing more eye contact and better eye contact.

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Telling Ain’t Training is an outstanding book for trainers and educators on how to develop effective training. Published by the American Society for Training & Development, this is the best book that I’ve found in this speaking niche.

Our Six Minutes survey last fall indicated that a third of our readers are teachers, instructors, professors, or corporate trainers. If you are one of them, or if you would like to start delivering effective training sessions, you should read this book.

This article is one of a series of public speaking book reviews from Six Minutes.

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