Six Minutes weekend reviews bring the best public speaking articles to you.
This review features topics including:
- speech openings;
- storytelling tips;
- body language;
- the secret to great presentations;
- and more.
Recently on Six Minutes
- 7 Habits for Highly Effective Speakers
A tribute to the passing of Stephen Covey, which looks at how his seven habits can help all speakers be more effective.
- 10 Presentation Habits My College Students – And You – Must UN-Learn
Guest author Alex Rister shares ten bad habits and reveals how you can banish them. (Thanks, Alex!)
- Christopher Witt remarks that your speech opening is critical.
I believe that a good speech has one, and only one, overarching metaphor. It might be, say, a journey of discovery. Or the search for a solution. Or the fulfillment of a dream. Or taking up arms against mediocrity, or injustice, or tyranny. Or building a better world (or mousetrap). The metaphor you choose is your way of portraying or of framing the world—the idea—of your speech.
And the opening minutes of a speech must introduce that metaphor.
- Ethos3 relays storytelling tips from Pixar.
Make sure you’ve established the core message of your presentation; make sure you’ve narrowed down the focus to something manageable. [...] What’s the shortest, quickest, easiest way to deliver your presentation? How can you reveal the core meaning, the core focus of your presentation in the fewest words possible? Establish that economical telling first, and then work from there.
- Angela DeFinis urges you to tell stories.
Stories play an important role in our everyday communication. They can bridge the gap that’s inherent in many types of presentations, from the lively motivational speech to the serious executive all-hands meeting to the dense technical demo presentation. In fact, we’ve all seen what can happen with the introduction of a story—a boring presentation will come alive!
- Lisa Braithwaite cautions against using acronyms and other shortcuts that the audience may not understand.
(Ed. There’s a story lesson specific to Toastmasters in the article, too.)
It’s not always faster to use shortcuts, especially if you make communication more complex by using them with people who don’t understand you.
- Nick Morgan asserts that “body language determines attitude“.
Here’s how it works. If you stand tall, and take up as much space as possible, your body will manufacture more testosterone, and less cortisol (a stress hormone). You’ll actually start to feel more confident and powerful, and you will believe that you are so.
- Nick Morgan suggests a way to eliminate a speaking tic.
[Ed. Yes, Nick offers enough quality to be featured twice in a row!]
There are several relatively painless ways to fix a tic. My favorite is to get someone, a friend, to count the tics over some specified period of time, like a speech, and then charge the offender an agreed-upon sum for each offense. Usually a dollar is enough to get the malefactor’s attention. And you’d be astonished how quickly the tic goes away after you’ve had to pay up a couple of times.
PowerPoint and Visuals
- Amelia McCormick argues that slides should not be cluttered.
You don’t need to put all the information on one slide. And you definitely don’t need the BFA [big flipping arrows] to keep listeners focused. By highlighting just one key idea per slide, you effectively guide your listeners through the most important points. Suddenly, you have their focus and attention where you want it, and the ability to move from a position of information to one of influence and persuasion.
- Alex Rister claims that hard work is the secret to great presentations.
The secret to great presenting is first working to understand the basic foundation of effective presentations and then to work even harder to apply that knowledge.
- Laura Bergells pleads for patience when coaching speakers.
Find one to three things you loved about the presentation. Even if you secretly thought the presentation was a complete disaster, you can always find at least one strength. You’re going to let the speaker know what that one core strength is. And you’re going to work with them to build their presentation around that strength.
Next, find one to three things they can improve. Sure, you may have found 20 things they can do better. But here’s the mark of a good coach: prioritization. [...] Don’t aim for complete mastery in one session!
- Denise Graveline suggests that speakers don’t need to be perfect.
Perfection dogs the speaker. It’s the sense that you need to be perfect, and won’t be, that creates all the barriers between would-be speakers and actual public speaking: the fear, the hesitation, the over-preparation. Fear of not being perfect makes speakers turn down invitations or refer them away to others.