Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Best Public Speaking Tips and Techniques: Weekend Review [2009-06-06]

Week In ReviewOn Saturdays, we survey the best public speaking articles from throughout the public speaking blogosphere.

This review features topics including:

  • new public speaking books;
  • creating strong speech outlines;
  • opinions on filler words;
  • persuasive speech strategies;
  • explanations of the misinterpretation of Mehrabian’s research [7%=content; 38%=voice; 55% = body language];
  • step-by-step slide makeovers; and
  • elevator pitches for professional speakers and speechwriters.

Week in Review: Six Minutes

Week in Review: Public Speaking Blogosphere

Resources for Speakers – Public Speaking Books

Check out these recently released public speaking and communications books:

Resources for Speakers

If you have the PZ book already I do not recommend that you get the video too (unless money is no object, in which case feel free to buy a million copies). But if you know someone who does not have the Presentation Zen book – and they are unlikely to slow down long enough to go through such a book – then the video may be very useful.


  • Nick Morgan lists 6 persuasive speech approaches.
  1. problem-solution
  2. statement of reasons
  3. comparative advantages
  4. criteria – satisfaction
  5. general to specific
  6. negative method

Delivery Techniques

  • Olivia Mitchell launched the Stop the Mehrabian Myth campaign.

The stickiest idea in presenting and public speaking is that the meaning of your message is communicated by:

  • Your words 7%
  • Your tone of voice 38%
  • Your body language 55%.

I’m also concerned about the persistence of the Myth because of the impact on presenters:

  1. The Mehrabian Myth puts unwarranted pressure on people who are nervous about speaking. They’ve been led to believe that their delivery can make or break their presentation. This is just not true. If they prepare well-organized valuable content and deliver it at least adequately they are likely to get their message across.
  2. The Mehrabian Myth leads some “wing-it” presenters to under-prepare their content under the misapprehension that so long as they can deliver with energy and dynamism they’ll get their message across. Again, not so.
  • Bert Decker contributes a stirring complementary article about Mehrabian’s research and the controversy. [I don’t say this often, but I think this is a must-read article for students of public speaking.]

Professor Albert Mehrabian has provided a great service to communicators who learn of, and apply, his work. Let not misinterpretations of that work diminish the importance of Mehrabian.

  • Max Atkinson refutes what he refers to as “the overstated claims about the… importance of body language” by suggesting counter arguments:
  1. How come it’s much easier to have a conversation with a blind person than with someone who’s completely deaf?
  2. How come we can have perfectly good conversations in the dark?
  3. How come telephones and radio have been such spectacular successes?
  4. How come we have to work so hard to learn foreign languages?

Visual Aids

  • Mike Pulsifer explains a step-by-step slide makeover of US Coast Guard slides.

[…] the federal government is a fertile breeding ground for poorly designed and down-right ineffective slides.  […] the event organizers’ decision to make the slide decks available to participants  a couple weeks ago gave me just what I needed to share with you a slide make-over.

Professionally Speaking

  • Ian Griffin describes the importance of and the components of an elevator pitch for speechwriters or speakers.

Entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to venture capitalists. Job seekers are encouraged to develop a compelling elevator pitch to land an interview. Speed dating has even introduced the elevator pitch into our romantic lives.

What about speechwriters? Why should we bother to develop an elevator pitch for a proposed speech topic? Why not just get on with it and start writing?

Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll

And to close…

For speech inspiration, here’s an index card gem from Jessica Hagy.

This recent drawing caught my eye for two reasons:

  1. Sex, drugs, and rock & roll” is a memorable phrase — an example of the rule of three which we’ve featured recently on Six Minutes;
  2. Tension between parents and teenagers is an abstract concept, but this analogy grounds it concretely in reality.

What memorable triad can you add to your next speech?

What concrete analogies can you use to help explain abstract concepts?

Jessica’s book Indexed is an inexpensive, but rich source of speech inspiration.

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Find more helpful public speaking articles in previous weekend reviews which are published regularly on Six Minutes.
Subscribe to Six Minutes for free to receive future weekend reviews.

Comments icon1 Comment

  1. Love this list!

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