Articles in category: Ask Six Minutes

“Ask Six Minutes” is a collection of articles written directly in response to questions from our readers.

Do you have a question about speaking and presentation skills? Ask us!

This article is part of the 12 Days of Ask Six Minutes.
This event is over now, but you can send your questions anytime.

Suit or sweater?

Pants or a dress?

Does how you dress impact your effectiveness as a speaker? If so, how?

Eric Hudon (@erichudonca) asks this on Twitter:

@6minutes How should a speaker dress and in what circumstance? Casual, Formal, Other? What is to be avoided?

In this article, we examine clothing do’s and don’ts for public speakers.

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This article is part of the 12 Days of Ask Six Minutes.
This event is over now, but you can send your questions anytime.

Filler words — including um and uh — are never written into a speech, and add nothing when a speaker utters them.

Yet these insidious verbal hiccups are ubiquitous, uttered by most speakers in most speeches every day.

Robin Hutchins writes:

I teach a college speech class. The most common struggle my students have is the use of filler words such as um and uh. Do you have a strategy that helps to omit filler words?

What can be done? Is it hopeless?

In this article, we examine why filler words have a negative impact on your effectiveness, and learn a five-step strategy for reducing them.

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This article is part of the 12 Days of Ask Six Minutes.
This event is over now, but you can send your questions anytime.

Imagine yourself in these scenarios:

  1. You’re delivering a 1-hour keynote address on pursuing your dreams to high school graduates.
  2. You’re teaching a full-day corporate course on quality assurance processes.
  3. You’re giving a 10-minute pitch at your local service club to partner with Habitat for Humanity.

How many slides would you prepare for each presentation?

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Twelve days.

Twelve articles.

Twelve questions answered.

Your speaking question could be one of them.

To celebrate the holiday season, we’re building on the Ask Six Minutes series to answer reader questions for twelve consecutive days. To do it, we need your help.

What’s your question?

Any topic we discuss on Six Minutes is welcome:

How can you send it in for consideration?

To have your speaking-related question answered, ask it in one of three ways:

Each day, one reader’s question will be selected and answered. Send in your question (or questions) now and spread the word.

The 12 Days of Ask Six Minutes

  1. How Many Slides Should You Have? How Many Slides Do You Need?
  2. How to Stop Saying Um, Uh, and Other Filler Words
  3. How to Dress for Public Speaking
  4. When is the Best Time to Distribute Handouts?
  5. How to Make Reading a Speech Not Like Reading a Speech
  6. How to Weave Statistics Into Your Speech
  7. 9 Do’s and Taboos to Eat, Drink, and Speak
  8. 3 Common Ways Speakers Sabotage Themselves
  9. How to Thrive When Speaking Outside
  10. Why You Must Relish Every Opportunity to Speak
  11. How to Ace the Short, Impromptu Speech
  12. Bookending Your Speech: A Master Technique

Does your voice convey confidence and conviction every time you speak?

Or does your voice need strength training?

A Six Minutes reader whose career depends on a strong, confident voice sent in this question:

“One thing I need help in is voice control.  For some reason my voice quivers.  Is there some kind of exercise that may strengthen my vocal cords? Any ideas what may contribute to that?

Also, as a Realtor, I encounter the quivery voice as I’m talking with my clients and it conveys an impression of not being sure of what I’m saying.”

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You know your content. Success is in view.

But now, your time slot has been chopped in two.

Oh my! Oh my! What will you do?


If you’ve been speaking for a while, this has probably happened to you. If it hasn’t yet, it’s only a matter of time.

Can you still salvage the presentation and provide value for your audience?

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Have you taken a college course in public speaking?

Have you taught a college course in public speaking?

Which textbook did you use, and would you recommend it?

I’m interested to hear all your recommendations, the good and the bad.

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What do you do when you prefer not to use a lectern, but its use is implied by the nature of your speaking engagement?

Do you follow convention and stand behind it?

Or, do you go with your gut and break free?

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