Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Best Public Speaking Articles: Weekly Review [2008-10-25]

Week In ReviewOn Saturdays, we survey the best public speaking articles from throughout the public speaking blogosphere here on Six Minutes.

Topics featured include:

  • storytelling and archetypes;
  • slide design;
  • handout design;
  • rehearsal;
  • public speaking fear; and
  • establishing credibility.

Public Speaking Blogs

Week in Review: Public Speaking Blogosphere


  • Nick Morgan reflects on storytelling and archetypes in a 4-article series. For example, in the 2nd article, he compares storytelling in speeches to three acts of a play.

In either case, think of your stories as having three acts.  The first act presents an idea or a situation that will engage the audience … Our customer base has been eroding for the last 16 quarters …

The second act raises the stakes on the earlier idea or situation. … If we have another down quarter, we’re going to have to close manufacturing plants in Chicago and Ohio

The third act precipitates a resolution, either favorable or unfavorable, by posing a question that must be resolved. … To turn things around, I’m starting a new product line, code name Lemmings, that will excite customers once again and bring them flocking back to our stores.

Visual Aids

The research shows that multitasking is a human delusion. In fact we switch rapidly from one task to another. One of the reasons for this is that similar tasks compete for use of the brain. …

Applying this to PowerPoint presentations, reading bullet-points and listening to the presenter are conflicting tasks. If a person in your audience is reading a bullet-point they are not listening to you.

… one of the advantages of a [printed] slide is that it will contain much more information than your typical [projected] slide.  Research shows that when more steps in your logic are shown together on one slide, audiences understand your argument better.

  1. This slide is busy on purpose.
  2. I know that you can’t read this slide, but it illustrates my point.
  3. I won’t go through this now, but you can read it after my presentation.
  1. Position your laptop so that you can see it when you are facing the audience.
  2. Make only one point per slide.
  3. Rehearse what you are going to present.

Speaker Habits

For me the difference between being good and being great is rehearsal. … But you still don’t rehearse because:

  1. It’s time consuming
  2. It makes me feel uncomfortable
  3. I’ll get stale
  4. I can get away with winging it
  5. I’m better when I’m unprepared

If she thought of something as being a speech, she’d panic but the same exact circumstances where she thought of it as a conversation resulted in no stress. So by simply thinking of speeches and presentations as talks or conversations, she could eliminate half of her problem.

I enjoy watching my early drafts turn into a concrete message.
I enjoy finding out what my audience wants and giving it to them.

  • Rhett Laubach answers a question from a client: “How do I deal with feeling the need to establish credibility as a young female with only a few years of experience to her name?” One of his suggestions is to accentuate the positive:

Highlight the positive sides of being younger (while not talking about them in direct terms – i.e. don’t say, here are five reasons why me being born in the 80s is a good thing) and how those traits are of great benefit to the relationship. A few that come to mind are energy, fresh perspectives, willingness to challenge the norm, etc.

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