Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Public Speaking Tips: Weekend Review #86

Week In Review

Six Minutes weekend reviews bring the best public speaking articles to you.

This review features topics including:

  • recently released speaking books;
  • generating humor;
  • using repetition and triggers;
  • charisma;
  • slide design tips;
  • and more!

From the Six Minutes Archives

Recently on Six Minutes…

Resources for Speakers – Public Speaking Books

Check out these recently released public speaking and communications books:


  • John Zimmer teaches us how to generate humor through unexpected sentence endings.

Device: Paraprosdokian …

In plain English: A sentence or phrase that has an unexpected ending. …

The unexpected ending is most often used for a humorous effect.

The unexpected ending causes the audience to rethink the initial part of the sentence or phrase.

  • Jim Anderson discusses repetition and triggers to aid retention.

A trigger is an association that you plant in your audience’s minds that will cause them to remember the point that you were trying to make. An example of this would be if you were trying to motivate an audience and you wanted them to realize that they had an unlimited potential. You could tell them that the green light on a traffic light represented their unlimited potential and that every time they see a green traffic light they should remember what you told them.

The great thing about triggers is that they can last long after your speech is over. A well done trigger will continue to remind your audience about what you’ve told them for a very long time.

Delivery Techniques

  • Nancy Duarte relays lessons learned speaking with an interpreter.
  1. Prepare half as much material.
  2. Transcribe or write out your talk.
  3. Work through idioms and metaphors.
  4. Practice for pacing and pauses.
  5. Complete your thoughts.
  6. Have good chemistry with your interpreter.
  • Nick Morgan offers a definition of charisma.

Charisma is focused emotion. …

… when someone comes in the room with focused emotion – excitement, passion, energy, anger, joy – you name it – we instantly start paying attention. The emotion draws us, unconsciously at first, and then consciously as we try to figure out what’s going on. It’s a survival thing.

  • Ben Decker argues that it’s critical to stay on time.

The answer isn’t rushing and speed talking through all your content.

Despite what timing situation you find yourself in — whether your allotment was stolen by a change of agenda or you just lost track of yourself — it’s your responsibility as the presenter to respect time limitations and work with what you have.

Plan ahead and make timing an internal focus the next time you’re presenting. If you don’t play by timing rules, you’ll crash and burn.

PowerPoint and Visuals

  • Zach Holman highlights several slide design tips.
    [Thanks to Denise Graveline for the link.] 

A good set of slides won’t magically make your talk great. But a great talk is really hurt by terrible slides. Spend some time thinking about your slides. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes: is this readable? Is this interesting? Should I pay attention, or should I get my laptop out and hack until lunch?

I’m certainly not a designer, but it’s really remarkable how little design you need to put yourself far ahead of most talks. Huge text. Consistent colors. Less words. Worry about those, and it will already put you far ahead of the pack.

  • Jerry Weissman describes a five-second rule for comprehending slides.

…Mr. Khosla continues to monitor and critique the presentations they develop to pitch to their potential customers and partners.

For each of them, he applies his five-second rule: he puts a slide on a screen, removes it after five seconds, and then asks the viewer to describe the slide. A dense slide fails the test—and fails to provide the basic function of any visual: to aid the presentation.

Speaker Habits

  • Denise Graveline reflects on 6 ways to handle a contentious topic.

You may not like to speak in public. You may fret over your delivery, voice, outfit, the lighting. Or perhaps you’re a happy speaker, ever willing and comfortable. But when your topic or subject creates the difficulty, you’re facing the great equalizer, the challenge that might thwart both the confident and the shy speaker.

  • Lisa Braithwaite reminds us that improving your speaking skills requires work.

Your presentations won’t change if you don’t make the effort. Your PowerPoint will still be riddled with tiny text and too many bullets. Your content will be unfocused or boring, or mediocre. Your delivery will be disconnected or stiff or monotone, or just unmemorable.

… Unless we stop fantasizing and start DOING.

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