Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Public Speaking Tips: Weekend Review [2009-10-10]

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

This review includes:

  • new public speaking books;
  • focusing on a single idea;
  • limiting the amount of information presented;
  • using statistics in a speech;
  • the phony speaker’s smile;
  • research about bullet slides;
  • choosing slide colors; and
  • gender issues in public speaking.

Resources for Speakers – Public Speaking Books

Check out these recently released public speaking and communications books:


  • Chris Witt reminds you the best speeches are built on a single idea.

That idea may be simple or complex, sophisticated or homespun, philosophical or down-to-earth practical. It may have far-ranging implications or a very specific application. It may appeal to a broad audience or to a select few. But it has to have the power to change people’s lives in some way — to change how they think or feel or act.

  • Kathy Reiffenstein questions how much can your audience absorb?

What affects audience absorption?

  • sheer volume of information
  • rate of speech
  • complexity of information
  • language choice
  • organization of material
  • Jessica Hagy captures the information conundrum visually.
    Not too much. Not too little. The best speakers are able to present just the right amount of information to maximize understanding (or, in this case, minimize confusion).

Too much or too little information makes you incomprehensible.

  • Craig Valentine gives 5 tips to add impact to statistics.
  1. Do not Drop Stats off; Drive them Home
  2. Use Statistics within a Story
  3. The story is the emotion while the statistic is the logic.
  4. Literally point us to the source
  5. Use Statistics for Involvement
  • Nick R Thomas advises you to avoid buzzwords in your speech.

As public speakers, we want our listeners to reflect on the words we have just used because they find them amusing, moving, profound, persuasive… not because we have used language in a way that sounds peculiar, contrived or irritating to them. If you are using buzzwords, make sure that they are commonly used by that particular audience otherwise they will just distract from your message instead of reinforcing it.

Delivery Techniques

  • Doug Stevenson warns against the phony speaker’s smile.

One of the most common mistakes speakers make is to plaster a smile on their face and keep it there, regardless of what they’re saying. […]

The problem of the “speaker’s smile” becomes pronounced and incongruent, especially in the context of storytelling. […]

I tell it like it is with emotion that is congruent. If I’m talking about the unlimited potential of each individual in my audience, I’m smiling. If I’m talking about self-limiting beliefs, I’m not.

  • James Feudo claims tongue twisters are an effective rehearsal aid.

Most people have a bit of a hard time when trying to read them fast. It’s a lot of work for both your brain and your mouth – it’s like free weights for speaking articulately. It’s no secret that reading out loud can help improve your articulation but if you want to get results fast, try some tongue twisters.

Visual Aids

  • Olivia Mitchell presents new evidence that bullet slides don’t work.
  1. Don’t say too much.
  2. Split the (cognitive) load.
  3. Get rid of visual clutter on your slides.
  4. Make your audience work.
  • Garr Reynolds applies Zen art lessons to selecting slide colors.

The problem with most slide presentations is not that visuals contain too few colors, it’s that they contain too many. A common practice is to use several different vivid hues (colors) in presentation slides when even a single hue in various shades or tints would have been more effective.

[…] pay attention to the luminance or value in a graphic, not just the hues (colors).

  • Nancy Duarte argues that effective slides can be processed in 3 seconds or less.

One of the tools we used was our Glance Test. […] slides should be processed in 3 seconds or less. It’s impossible for people to process your slides and your words simultaneously. The test gives you a quantifiable way to test a slide’s viability as a glance medium by calculating a signal-to-noise ratio for individual slides.

Speaker Habits

  • Stephanie Benoit and Denise Graveline discuss gender issues in public speaking and communication. [Watch Stephanie on video, and read Denise’ additional advice.]
YouTube Preview Image
  • Vivek Singh provides a checklist of things to do before you present (a slide-focussed presentation).
  1. Turn off your mobile phone
  2. Shut off the internet connection (unless, of course, you need it)
  3. Check your equipment
  4. Run a spell check
  5. Double-check all hyperlinks
  6. Check multimedia
  7. Rehearse with animation
  8. Critically review the first slide
  9. Back up your files
  10. Check your fonts
  11. Rehearse in slide show mode

And the Winner Is…

SlideShare recently concluded their World’s Best Presentation contest, and the winner was Dan Roam’s American Health Care presentation. [If you are reading this via subscription, you may need to click through to view it below.

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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 icon2 Comments

  1. Andrew, this is such a valuable service you are providing. I even subscribe to some of these blogs and miss things you highlight. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

  2. Hi Andrew,

    Glad to see you are doing these lists again.

    I saw the article from Craig Valentine and thought it was great.


    Darren Fleming

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