Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Public Speaking Tips: Weekend Review #92

Week In Review


Six Minutes weekend reviews bring the best public speaking articles to you.

This review features topics including:

  • engaging your audience;
  • using analogies;
  • building charisma;
  • developing vocal potential;
  • handling Q&A;
  • the case for visuals;
  • famous speeches by women;
  • and more!

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  • Christopher Witt insists that a big speech needs a big idea.

These days a speech’s packaging (its visual aids, graphics, PowerPoint slides) and delivery get more attention than its content. And that’s to our detriment.

You want–or should want, as far as I’m concerned–people to leave your speech talking about the idea you set forth in it. If they say, “Wow, great slides” or “You’re a great presenter,” and say (and remember) nothing about what you said, I think your speech was a bust.

  • Gavin McMahon describes how engagement links understanding and remembering.

It’s simply easier to stand up and deliver than it is to engage. But speaking without engaging is like chewing without swallowing. It kinda defeats the purpose. If you want to get your message across, if you want to frame something for your audience, if you want to move them to action, You need them to engage.

  • Bronwyn Ritchie encourages you to create analogies.

An analogy works by relating the element that we want the audience to understand to something that they do understand, something with which they are familiar. […]

As speakers we can all do this – compare our concepts that might be difficult to understand and remember with something that is relevant to our audience, something that resonates with them, something they can picture.

Delivery Techniques

  • Claire Duffy reflects on building your charisma.

Your on-stage self gives subtle clues to your audience about how powerful and confident you are, and how to respond to you. If you have presence and charisma, it will show. If you don’t, you need to build it, as it’s critical for success in leadership, presentations and public speaking.

  • Angela DeFinis urges you to “develop your vocal potential.”

Your voice is your primary instrument when delivering information, so your enthusiasm, passion, and commitment to your topic must come across to the audience through your voice.

To develop your vocal potential and make the best use of your natural speaking abilities, I suggest you focus on three categories: vocal clarity, vocal variety, and vocal emphasis

  • Laura Bergells warns you not to fake enthusiasm.

If you go way overboard and fake an egregiously cheerful attitude, you cross a line. It says that you don’t care about the feelings of the audience: you’re going to try to force them to be as falsely cheerful as you’re pretending to be. It even sends a message that your content isn’t that good — instead of being genuinely enthusiastic, you have to fake your enthusiasm.

  • Denise Graveline highlights 7 advantages to smiling while you speak.
  1. Feels better
  2. Doesn’t look grim or bored
  3. Can hide what she’s thinking
  4. Is more engaging and impressive to watch
  5. Will look better in pictures or on video
  6. Will get more positive feedback from the audience
  7. Feels less stressed while speaking
  • Ben Decker shows 5 techniques to handle a Q&A session.
    [In a follow-up article, he adds 4 more behaviours to avoid.]
  1. Set a tone and encourage questions by leaning or stepping forward and raising your own hand to model behavior.
  2. Listen to and look at the questioner, but also answer to the entire audience.
  3. Use the question to further your Point of View.
  4. Be brief and cooperative.
  5. Include a final closing after your Q&A session.

PowerPoint and Visuals

  • Ellen Finkelstein gives a primer on QR codes on slides.

Why would a presenter want a QR code?

Do you put your website’s URL on your first and last slides? Email address? Twitter name? A QR code is just another way of letting people connect with you. A QR code is a connection between offline (your presentation) and online but it has a technological connection that text on your slide doesn’t have — people with a QR reader on their smart phone can capture your URL without having to write it down.

  • Nick Morgan states the importance of visual elements when you speak.

[W]e are all visual learners. By far the most important part of our brains taking in new stimuli is visual. […]

What does that mean for speakers? It means that your audience needs to be able to see you. Really. It’s that simple. It also means that interacting with them visually is important – but that doesn’t necessarily mean a slide. And it especially doesn’t mean a slide with words on it. What it does mean is that anything you can offer to increase the visual richness of the experience you provide the audience is both welcome and likely to increase retention and power.

So use props, slides, video, costumes, lighting, scenery – all the possible elements of stagecraft that the audience will experience visually.

  • Chiara Ojeda also argues that visuals matter.

In essence, we retain information when it is visually displayed. But, why is it that pictures have this incredible impact on our minds? What is it about images that makes our brains work so well (at least in terms of information retention, which is definitely one goal of a presentation)? […]

So, to harness the true power of the visual medium and shoot retention through the roof, we have to pair one impacting image with one clear and concise idea.

Resources for Speakers

  • Denise Graveline compiled an index of famous speeches by women.

Often, the speeches are famous but the speakers were not when they opened their mouths, like high school student Kayla Kearney, who came out to her school assembly. Some are historic, with a few reflecting anniversaries, like union organizer Rose Schneiderman’s passionate speech after the horrific Triangle fire in New York City 100 years ago. Women speakers from the U.S., Canada, England, France, Haiti and Kenya were featured, and their topics range from war, business, the environment and equal rights to cancer, orgasm, gender identity and family.

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