Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Public Speaking Tips: Weekend Review [2009-09-19]

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

This review features topics including:

  • tips for speechwriting research;
  • audience engagement;
  • connecting with a large group;
  • stepping in front of the projector;
  • charting techniques; and
  • the problem with a lack of honesty from your audience.

Week in Review: Six Minutes

Week in Review: Public Speaking Blogosphere


  • Cynthia J. Starks reflects on how research makes your speech memorable (and makes speechwriting fun).

I once wrote a speech for an IBM executive to deliver in Coventry, England. Through research, I discovered Coventry was where Lady Godiva made her fabled naked ride. The speech was on IBM’s contributions to new digital video monitoring platforms in England. In acknowledging the concerns surrounding extensive video monitoring, my executive suggested that if such technology were in place in Lady Godiva’s day, her ride would have been filmed and broadcast on the BBC. […]

Have fun with research. Not only is it interesting in and of itself, but it will provide you with material to make your speeches memorable and to make your executive stand out and shine.

  • Rich Hopkins compares speaking to sales.

I hate to break this to you, but… You are a Salesperson. […]

When giving an effective speech, you typically need to hit the following buttons:

  1. What you want them to do. (In sales terms: The Offer)
  2. Who else has done it, and what happened when they did it. (The Testimonial)
  3. Why its good for them to do it. (The Benefit)
  4. An acknowledgement about why they may not want to do it. (The Objections)
  5. A story about how they will feel when they do it. (The Assumptive Sale)
  6. Instruct them to do it. (The Close)

[…] The best salespeople eventually learn to work from the self-interest of their customers. As speakers, we must do the same.

Delivery Techniques

  • Angela DeFinis investigates how to ask questions effectively.

We’ve all seen speakers who seem to know exactly how to get an audience energized. These speakers have an effortless, intuitive sense that enables them to keep a connection with any audience. And they often use powerful questioning techniques to help them prompt audience involvement. […]

  1. Ask a direct question.
  2. Ask a rhetorical question.
  3. Use a rhetorical question as a transition.
  • Rhett Laubach lists a set of audience engagement tips, including:
  • Tap into the emotional connection the audience has with the topic and when they get emotional, leverage it. I.e. – if you get them laughing, hit them with a serious point. If you get them in a somber state, crack a light joke. The scale is emotion on one side and no emotion on the other. Instead of what some people think – serious on one side and fun on the other.
  • Use variety in volume, pace and tone to give the audience a boost in attention. I.e. – when using the microphone, pull it away from your mouth or simply don’t use it from time to time when making big points and that volume change will cause the audience to have to listen even closer. (Make sure if you use this tactic that the audience can actually hear you when not using the microphone.)
  • Nick Morgan offers 5 ways to connect with a large audience.

On the whole, the same techniques work in front of large audiences as well as in front of small ones. You’re still leading the audience on a decision-making journey, you’re still connecting with them on both intellectual and emotional levels, and you’re still telling stories. That said, there are some crucial differences.

  1. Large audiences want to laugh.
  2. Large audiences need more time.
  3. Large audiences demand and give back more energy.
  4. Large audiences need simplicity.
  5. Large audiences need to be active, not passive.

Public speaking and presenting are full of silly rules. One such silly rule is that you shouldn’t walk into into the beam of the projector. I disagree – it can be incredibly effective to get in the beam. […]

There’s one situation when you shouldn’t get in the beam. That’s when you don’t know you’re doing it.

Visual Aids

  • Vivek Singh compiled an excellent 14-article series on charting techniques.
  1. Why do you need a chart?
  2. Which type of chart should you use?
  3. What title should your chart have?
  4. What is your key message?
  5. What is the right number of data points?
  6. Labeling your chart
  7. Do you need a legend?
  8. Chart axes
  9. Trusting your source data
  10. Color
  11. Chart animation
  12. Highlighting what is important
  13. Chart aesthetics
  14. The big picture

Speaker Habits

  • Kathy Reiffenstein wishes audiences provided honest feedback.

If we keep telling presenters they’re OK, how will we ever encourage them to stop reading PowerPoint slides, to rehearse their presentation before delivering it, to incorporate examples and stories to help us understand better, to stop saying “you know” every 5 seconds, to use simple words instead of jargon, to….? Those 3s, 4s and 5s (out of 5) on the feedback questionnaire allow the presenter to dwell in a self-congratulatory bubble, neither cognizant of nor caring about his presentation inadequacies. After all, the scores were pretty good, weren’t they?

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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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Comments icon1 Comment

  1. Leila Alson says:

    This is the first time I’ve visited this blog. I’m impressed.
    The notes on sales, engaging large audiences and charting were particularly good.
    You might want to include a section on pronunciation. If words are mispronounced, the listener spends time thinking about the mispro. rather than the messaged

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