Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Public Speaking Tips:
Weekend Review #96

Week In Review


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

This review features topics including:

  • learning charisma;
  • gifts for speakers;
  • speech analysis of Winston Churchill and Jawaharlal Nehru;
  • giving a thank-you speech;
  • how to make data compelling on slides;
  • communicating criticism;
  • and much, much more!

Recently on Six Minutes

It’s been a while since our last weekend review. Here’s what we’ve published since then:


  • Nancy Duarte analyzes Jawaharlal Nehru’s 1947 “Trust with Destiny” speech against the story structure she advocates in her book, Resonate.

  • Ben Decker dissects the recent Air New Zealand in-flight safety commercial and questions why it works.

Delivery Techniques

  • Claire Duffy tells how to give a thank-you speech, using a speech given by Barack Obama to his campaign volunteers as an example.

It’s informal, off the cuff, in the back room, to thank his campaign workers in Chicago. Here we see him uncut, ‘in the raw’. Instead of grandeur we have empathy. Rhetoric gives way to intimacy. The statesman turns fatherly,  the public man speaks privately. What stands out is his humility. He doesn’t talk about himself, or the campaign or the win – he talks about them, how proud and impressed he is with them, his confidence in the great things they’ll do. He’s  moved to tears.

  • Sims Wyeth weighs the pros and cons of reading a script or internalizing your message.

Written scripts that are read can be electrifying, and presentations that are internalized can be deadly. Preparation, sensitivity to the audience, and delivery will carry the day in almost all cases.

In business, in my experience, written scripts are a liability. We expect our experts to be able to talk about their area of expertise without the aid of a text.

And business leaders, although they may not be experts in all aspects of the business, need to convey their leadership expertise by creating a bond with their listeners by getting away from a text, and into the ears and eyes –hearts and minds–of those they lead and seek to influence.

PowerPoint and Visuals

  • Alex Rister refutes 5 common arguments against using effective visual slides.

Let’s think about what a visual aid actually is: communication through the visual medium.  A billboard, a magazine layout, and a newspaper ad are examples of visual communication.  A slide is also an example of visual communication.  Since they have become so easy to use and readily available on our computers, we’ve come to believe slides ARE the presentation.  Through bad habits, we think slides serve the same purpose as a handout.  Because of these bad habits, and because we believe these habits to be the way and the truth, we hate presentations, but we can’t figure out why.

  • Maggie Summers shows how to make data compelling, with a series of slide examples.

What are the first words that come to mind when someone says “data”? Probably something along the lines of ‘boring’, ‘tedious’ and ‘complicated’. There’s little chance ‘exciting’ or ‘engaging’ came to mind. Data and statistics have something of a bad rap, and understandably so. If they aren’t used in a creative and engaging way, they can easily be the death knell of a presentation. The line between a presentation that can change the world, and one that’s classic Death by PowerPoint is surprisingly fine, and your use of data can be a make or break moment.

  • Vivek Singh questions whether a chart or a table may be more appropriate, depending on your data.

Speaker Habits

  • Michelle Mazur lists 12 tips for communicating criticism.

4. Offer solutions or alternative ideas

If you are specific in your feedback, then offer solutions for how the person could improve in the future. This also shows the recipient of the criticism the intent of the feedback and instills good will.

5. Avoid the accusatory “you need to…”

They really don’t need to do anything! “You need to…” implies there is one right way to create art. There is not. Criticism is an opinion.

  • Denise Graveline urges speakers to use Twitter strategically before and after their presentation.

6. Links to “handouts.”
I wish more speakers would tweet links to further reading, detailed charts or lists of tips that would have been handouts in your presentations of the past. No need to save them until after your talk–you may get smarter questions this way. It’s also an excellent way to plan a talk when you want to use detail and data wisely, but not too well.

Resources for Speakers

  • Nick Morgan suggests numerous gift ideas for speakers.

4. A photo shoot
Those headshots are out of date, face it. And the temptation to do it on the cheap and get your kid to take some shots in the living room with a point-and-shoot will yield cheap-looking shots. Give your speaker the gift of a professional photographer and get it done right.

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