Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Best Public Speaking Articles: Weekly Review [2008-10-11]

Week In ReviewEvery Saturday, we survey the best public speaking articles from throughout the public speaking blogosphere. But, given my blogging hiatus, this week’s version is super-sized!

Topics featured include:

  • using repetition;
  • effective storytelling;
  • body movement techniques;
  • slides versus handouts;
  • rehearsing your presentation;
  • establishing credibility; and
  • the benefits of speech contests.

Public Speaking Blogs

Week in Review: Public Speaking Blogosphere


Good repetition gathers force as it goes along, because the repeated word or phrase can handle the weight.  The repetition becomes memorable as it accumulates emotional meaning underneath the repeated word or words.

There are many kinds of good repetition and you should use all of them.

Speech writing might be painful for you: perhaps you struggle in endless hours of speech preparation and still wind up with a speech that is unfocused, unclear with a meandering train of muddled thoughts.

  • Brian Jenner offers a short video article with three things people do in really bad speeches. My favorite lines express the same idea:

A speech should look like a poem on the page, not a novel.

Also, people use speeches like a bucket when actually its more like a teacup.

Speechwriting: Storytelling

  • Johnathan Steele gives 5 principles to enhance storytelling.
  1. Identify your most wanted response. This is the basis for applying these principles.
  2. Identify the moral, lesson, or motivation the story has to offer.
  3. Introduce the story and start to appeal to the emotions of the audience.
  4. As you transition into the body of the talk, incorporate the informational, persuasive, or motivational aspect of your message. Reach out to the senses of the listening audience.
  5. Finish the story, reinforce the application and conclude with a review the moral, lesson or principle.
  • Terry Gault offers a two-part series on storytelling (part 1; part 2) which points out the importance of authentic, personal stories.

Use personal stories to make points.  Carefully selected, vivid details are always more powerful than vague, general adjectives.

The essential events MUST have happened to you.  Otherwise, the story will not ring true for the audience.  Should they later discover the story did not happen, your credibility will be damaged.

Delivery Techniques

  • Olivia Mitchell describes (with words and pictures) nine ways to use the speaking area to complement your message. I rarely say this, but this is a “must read” article.
  1. State your key message from the power position.
  2. Map your structure on the stage.
  3. Use a stage timeline.
  4. Argue the pros and cons as if you were in a debate.
  5. Physically reflect the continuum of points of view.
  6. Give each option its own spot.
  7. Story time.
  8. Move close for emphasis.
  9. Dance with your slides.

Visual Aids

Most business executives would never think to take the text from their newspaper ads and turn that into their TV ads, and yet for some reason we think that text on our computer should work fine projected on a screen a long way away from people. It doesn’t work that way.

Sure, it’s easy for you to create handouts from PowerPoint or Keynote, but are copies of your slides what your audience really needs? Probably not.

  • Seth Godin puts forward his nine steps for PowerPoint “magic”. [Note: I don’t agree with all of them, but it’s hard to argue with a guru like Godin.]
  1. Don’t use PowerPoint at all.
  2. Use your own font.
  3. Tell the truth.
  4. Pay by the word.
  5. Get a remote.
  6. Use a microphone.
  7. Check to make sure you brought your big idea with you.
  8. Too breathtaking to take notes.
  9. Short!

By limiting the number of slides, the organization thinks that it is helping presenters focus their thoughts and present only the key ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth in most cases. My experience is that an artificial maximum number of slides does nothing to focus thoughts.

Speaker Habits

  1. Strike the Pose
  2. Wear Your Shoes
  3. Get an Audience
  4. Video vs. the Mirror
  5. Audio Only
  6. Rehearse in Real Time

Your audience doesn’t know, realise or care that you have put 40 hours of rehearsal into your one-hour talk. They don’t know, realise or care that you are gritting your teeth with frustration and boredom when you deliver your seemingly off-the-cuff humorous asides. But believe me they will very quickly realise if your delivery falls short of the mark; they will immediately know if you keep turning your back on them to read from the screen; and boy will they care if they get any sense that you are underprepared.

It’s hard to pull-off establishing your credentials without sounding like you’re bragging. …

So how can you avoid setting off the braggart alarm bells of your audience while still establishing your authority to speak on the topic?

Persuasive Speaking

  • Andrew Abela provides a two-article series (part 1; part 2) about presenting to venture capitalists.

I emailed three Venture Capitalist friends of mine and asked them what they like/dislike about the presentation pitches they receive. The two main points appear to be:

  1. The content of the pitch and quality of the team are far more important than the quality of the presentation.
  2. Use few slides

Toastmasters Articles

As part of the Toastmasters experience, members are offered the opportunity to grow their skills in the contest environment.  When you have the chance to compete, I highly recommend you embrace the opportunity. …

The only people who lose are those who don’t compete.

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