Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Best Public Speaking Tips and Techniques: Weekend Review [2009-07-11]

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;
  • opening with humor;
  • speech frameworks;
  • storytelling;
  • vocal habits to eliminate;
  • speaking to hearing impaired people;
  • slide design; and
  • transitioning to professional speaking.

Resources for Speakers – Public Speaking Books

Check out these recently released public speaking and communications books:


  • Ian Griffin explains speechwriting keys to finding the speaker’s voice.

[…] speechwriters need to know three things – the speaker, the audience and the subject. Knowing the speaker means, among other things, being aware of how they speak. How they form their words and their cadence when they are in front of an audience. If a writer can do this then we say they have captured their ‘voice’.

  • Jason Peck lists several ways to open your speech with humor. [Note the emphasis on keeping it relevant!]

[T]here are a few different ways for you to create a funny introduction […] You can open with a relevant humorous story. I say relevant as it’s best if relates directly to your theme.

[…] You could open with a humorous quote […] Again, it’s best if it relates to your message.

You might also consider opening with a humorous image […]

Opening with a humorous prop that relates to your message either directly, or indirectly could also work.

  • Meryl Evans outlines a speech framework.

I recently created a presentation on the value of Twitter to businesses, and worked through the sequence of Act I: the Setting, Role, Point A, Point B and Call to Action slides. […]

  1. Setting: You’re currently losing touch with your market and customers.
  2. Role: You want know how to reconnect with the market and customers.
  3. Point A: Your business will slow down if you don’t connect with the market.
  4. Point B: Reconnect with clients, market, industry and prospects by joining and tracking conversations.
  5. Call to Action: Follow the three parts of the presentation to add Twitter to your business.


  • Bert Decker lists 10 reasons why stories are powerful:
  • They are real
  • They are short
  • They are interesting
  • They are human
  • They give third party credibility
  • They are easy to tell
  • They are memorable
  • They are emotionally connecting
  • They move people
  • They are the principle communication tool since Man began talking
  • Jim Anderson argues that stories are underutilized in business.

Terrence Gargiulo has identified 9 key values to using a story in a business presentation:

  1. They empower the speaker.
  2. They can be used to create a particular environment.
  3. They can be used to bond individuals together.
  4. They can help your audience to engage in active listening.
  5. They can be used to resolve differences between both individuals and groups.
  6. They can encode information.
  7. They can act as tools to help with brainstorming.
  8. They can be used as weapons.
  9. They can be used to start or enhance a healing process.
  • Denise Graveline points out that personal stories are often best.

A personal story guarantees that your audience is getting original material, heightening their interest, and if you choose the story right and tell it on yourself–with surprises, slip-ups and ironic twists–you’ll have a winning formula for holding attention.

  • Joey Asher suggests starting stories with a promise to build expectations

The first step in telling a good story is to make a promise.  And if you want it to be a great story, it needs to be a big promise.

When you make a big promise, you’re setting an expectation in your listeners’ minds.  There is tension: “will she be able to fulfill the promise?”

Delivery Techniques

  1. Uptalk
  2. Glottal fry
  3. Mumbling
  4. Speaking too fast
  5. Speaking too slowly
  • Jim Anderson offers tips for speaking to hearing impaired people.

[…] in the U.S. there are 26 million people who have permanent hearing damage. What are the odds that one or more of them will be in your next audience?

Visual Aids

  • Brent Dykes reminds you to use colors to emphasize key data points to help your audience.

In most cases, when you’re using charts in PowerPoint slides you’re trying to highlight a specific data point or a subset of data points […]

The software has no way of knowing which particular data point is the main focus of your graph or chart. It is up to you — the presenter — to ensure that your charts communicate effectively to your audience.

  • Jan Schultink describes a visual concept: the mini-dialogue with text balloons.


Speaker Habits

  • Kathy Reiffenstein shares critiques on conferences.

[T]he organizers provided a Speakers’ Room, equipped with screens so presenters could rehearse presentations and even use other speakers as a mock audience. […]

Plea to speakers using teleprompter: please, please rehearse, with teleprompter, more than 10 minutes before your speech.

In almost every session I attended, presenters ran out of time […] When developing a speech or presentation, allocate time for audience questions and comments.

Session evauations are one of my hot buttons (more on that in a subsequent post). Feedback is the most valuable thing a speaker can get from the audience. […] if you’re in the audience, do the speaker the courtesy of providing honest, thoughtful feedback. Don’t say the presentation was good if it wasn’t; if you have thoughts for improvement, offer them.

Politically Speaking

  • Chris Witt analyzes Sarah Palin’s resignation speech.

There are any number of ways of analyzing a speech. My three favorites (not in order of importance) are 1) delivery, 2) message, and 3) results. […]

I think Palin’s speech was a medley of her favorite themes […]

By that standard I can’t judge Palin’s speech a success, because I have no idea what her goal was.

Professionally Speaking

  • Grant Baldwin provides a brief glimpse (parts one & two; plus 31 tips) into his transition to a full-time professional speaker.

The fact is I have a really sweet gig being able to travel and speak to students. So many people I talk with tell me they’d love to do what I get to do.

But people always want to know how I got into this. So in case you’re wondering, here’s the back story…

Please share this...

Find more helpful public speaking articles in previous weekend reviews which are published regularly on Six Minutes.
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Comments icon6 Comments

  1. Thanks for the link!

  2. Thank you for including me.

  3. Andrew:

    Wonderful blog…and thanks for the mention – much appreciated. I like how you drew upon lots of people and synthesized the points for readers. Lots of super ideas and tons of value. Bravo!

  4. Allyncia says:

    As a presentations trainer, I especially enjoy this site for the ideas and discussions from presenters working in various fields.

  5. Angela says:

    Great blog! Many thanks, it’s very helpful to have all this information gathered together in one place. It normally takes so much time to search for a good piece of information online and here it is, so many valuable sources.

  6. nick morgan says:

    Thanks again for a great round-up! I rely on your weekly summary to point me toward some of the blogs I might have missed. This is such a useful posting.

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