Best Public Speaking Articles: Weekly Review [2008-08-09]
Every Saturday, we survey the best public speaking articles from throughout the public speaking blogosphere.
Wait a minute… every Saturday? Then what happened the last two weeks?
Camping with family happened.
An impromptu trip to Seattle happened.
To compensate for the two week hiatus of the weekly review, I’m pleased to present the biggest and boldest collection yet — three week’s worth of the best public speaking articles.
Topics featured this week include:
- public speaking book reviews;
- the presentation debate between content vs style;
- the innate connection between humans and storytelling;
- benefits of recording your voice;
- analysis of the Gettysburg Address;
- slide design tips;
- emcee advice;
- and much, much, much more.
Week in Review: Public Speaking Blogosphere
Speaker Resources – Book Reviews
- First Olivia Mitchell and then Guy Kawasaki review Robert Cialdini’s Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive.
This book ranks in the top 10 business books that I’ve ever read. The book is a collection of 50 short chapters that document an experiment—usually in social psychology—and then the ramifications of the findings. In a nutshell, the book truly does explain how to persuade.
- Lou Hampton writes a review of John Lukacs’ Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Dire Warning – Churchill’s First Speech as Prime Minister.
Churchill often used conversations with friends and colleagues to try out phrases and concepts he was thinking about including in the speech. A trial run allows the speaker to refine content and increases the speaker’s comfort and confidence.
- Robert Bly makes a provocative claim: The world’s top professional speakers aren’t nearly as good as you are. Bly’s central argument is universal: content wins over style, but his assertion that “professional speakers” are all style is less so. This article is an excerpt from Bly’s book: Persuasive Presentations for Business.
It’s your speaking ability that gets people to listen and not snooze, daydream or leave when you’re addressing them from the platform. But it’s your knowledge, expertise and experience that get them to come to your talk in the first place.
- Jeremy Hsu delves deep into the fundamentals of storytelling to explore why humans love a good yarn.
Storytelling is one of the few human traits that are truly universal across culture and through all of known history.
- Olivia Mitchell offers the power of anecdotal evidence and how to multiply the power of a single anecdote.
In your business presentations, you may be tempted to stick to hard, proven facts and statistics to persuade your audience. But a powerful anecdote can trump objective facts.
- John Kinde provides 9 techniques for bookending your speech.
5. A quote. You could open and close with the same quote. Or a
different quote from the same person. This could be an especially
effective way to support the central theme of your talk.
- Laura Bergells reports the merits of recording your voice during rehearsal.
By focusing solely on your voice, you can find and correct vocal issues before you hit the stage. Further, by recording your voice, you’ll find that you’ll have better recall of your speech or presentation.
- Lisa Braithwaite gives another reason for recording yourself: to check if your sentences are floating away.
Does your pitch rise at the end like you’re asking a question, even when you’re not? This is a more common speech habit for women, but men do it too. It gives your speech a tentative quality, as though you’re asking for assurance or approval.
- Barry Flanagan walks us through his thought process in designing a slide deck.
On each section title slide I added in a picture of a single isolated bee to tie back to the theme of the buzz around virtualization. I also used the opening question again the conclusion. This is a very common structure for a speech or presentation. I have found success in tying in the opening at key points during the presentation and closing the loop at the end.
- Robert Lane debates whether slide backgrounds should be light or dark.
In the past, I used to recommend dark backgrounds primarily because projector lights were weak, requiring speakers to project in a darkened or semi-darkened room. … Today, however, projectors are stronger and performances usually occur in a fully lit or slightly dimmed room. In that case, light backgrounds are fine, and maybe are superior.
- Dave Paradi explains when a Venn diagram is appropriate for slides.
The first [situation] is when you are trying to show an overlapping relationship. It could be amongst roles, departments or product features. The key message is to show how some elements of each individual role/department/product are unique and some are the same as the other role/department/product. The Venn diagram makes these distinctions visually clear for your audience.
- Nick Morgan demonstrates that studying speeches provides a wealth of lessons to any speaker in his analysis of Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech.
Eight times in 250 words — two minutes — Lincoln invokes the place by repeating the word ‘here’. … Repetition is an essential aspect of great public speaking. The trick is knowing what and how to repeat. Take a lesson from Lincoln. Sometimes its the little words that have the most power.
- Doug Stevenson discusses being gracious when accepting audience praise.
If you do have time, ask them a question to gain feedback on your presentation, like “what one thing did I say that has made a difference for you?” or “what did I say that will stick with you?”
- James Feudo makes the case for adhering to time constraints rather than pushing your luck.
… I figured that they’d be glad to get an extra ten minutes of content or at least want to go to the time the class was advertised to end. But then I looked at it from the audience’s perspective. …
- Brian Jenner provides 7 reasons to use a speechwriter. (Perhaps helpful to market yourself in this capacity?)
If I had to make a very important speech, I would employ a speechwriter, because when I generate my own words, I don’t have a filter – someone to give me feedback on how what I’m saying is understood by others.
- Eric Feng, Gary Guwe, and Nina Sabrina share their experiences as an emcee.
Audiences are very receptive to the vibes you send out. Being happy (really happy, not in a forced kind of way) helps ease your relationship with your audience.