Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Public Speaking Tips: Weekend Review [2009-09-05]

Week In ReviewOn Saturdays, we survey the best public speaking tips from throughout the public speaking blogosphere.

This review features tips including:

  • public speaking books — new releases;
  • writing with precision;
  • adding context to statistics;
  • science behind storytelling;
  • connecting with your audience;
  • science behind gestures;
  • slideware software comparison; and
  • the importance of seeking feedback.

Resources for Speakers – Public Speaking Books

Check out these recently released public speaking and communications books:


  • Michelle Russell offers tips for writing with precision, many of which apply to speechwriting.
  1. Find the spine of your content and stick to it
  2. Cut the first paragraph
  3. Don’t over-spice your words
  4. Watch out for creep-in words
  5. Cut exaggerations
  6. Find a more precise word
  7. Reuse the leftovers



  • Colleen Ross reports research on children and storytelling.
    [Thanks, Linda, for the link to this must-read article.]

I’ve listened to many people speak — at all levels of government, at conferences, in churches, at rallies, at funerals. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. But often, I’ve sighed. I wish more people knew how to tell good stories. […]

The researchers say the children with imaginary friends told higher-quality stories than the others; they simply get more practice telling stories both to their friend and to other interested folks. […]

Ottawa-based communications expert Barry McLoughlin says many of us don’t exercise the storytelling muscle enough, so it atrophies. And somewhere along the line, it becomes more difficult to talk about emotions in public. To be a good storyteller, you need to put yourself on the line.

Delivery Techniques

  • Nick Morgan addresses (part 1; part 2; part 3) the role of body language in connecting with your audience.

All speakers wish to connect with their audiences. What is the most powerful way to do that? Every communication is two conversations – content and body language. Body language is where connection happens.

  • Denise Graveline uncovers the science behind gestures.

Some the students were allowed to gesture while telling the story, while others were asked to keep their hands still.

[…] the researchers still saw the experiment as an example of how gestures can help the brain access the right words at the right time.

Visual Aids

  • Dave Paradi shows [in video] how to redesign a set of slides that show relationships between roles.

  • Mike Pulsifer compares Keynote ’09, PowerPoint 2008, and OpenOffice 3 Impress in detail.

Rather than giving points to the tools that have the most of whatever garbage they may offer, I’ll focus more on what is important and not count the fluff or garbage. I’m breaking this comparison down to five different categories:

  • Templates
  • Interface
  • Design Tools
  • Charting
  • Presenter Tools

I’m also scoring them and will provide each category’s scores (out of 20) throughout the article.

Speaker Habits

  • Kathy Reiffenstein argues that you should proactively seek feedback.

Just how much do you search out feedback after you’ve made a presentation? Do you quickly collect the […] feedback forms […] and stuff them into your briefcase where they’re unlikely to again see the light of day? Do you gratefully accept thanks from the event organizer without probing for more detail about whether you really hit the mark? If this sounds familiar, you are missing a fabulous opportunity to gain insights, correct shortcomings and generally improve your presentation effectiveness.

  • Nancy Duarte encourages you to seek other perspectives as you develop presentations.

There used to be three significant roles played in the development of a presentation and each role was done by a highly trained specialist. Today, anyone who builds presentation[s] has all three of these roles folded into one eliminating collaboration all together, yet we’re not officially trained in any of these skills. […]

Next time you have an important presentation that uses charts or data of any kind, at least meet with someone else to get another perspective on whether you’re using the data in the most effective way.

  • Carmine Gallo lists 15 ways to give a lousy presentation.
  1. Misspell words
  2. Create distracting color combinations
  3. Use inconsistent fonts
  4. Use a really small font size
  5. Insert improperly sized photos that are stretched to fit the slide
  6. Look completely and totally disinterested
  7. Look disheveled
  8. Read every word of each slide
  9. Don’t bother with a backup plan
  10. Don’t practice
  11. Call attention to your mistakes
  12. Open with an offensive or off-color joke
  13. Use wild animations
  14. Use cartoon clip art
  15. Use ancient presentation software

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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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