Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Best Public Speaking Articles: Weekly Review [2008-08-09]

Week In ReviewEvery Saturday, we survey the best public speaking articles from throughout the public speaking blogosphere.

Wait a minute… every Saturday? Then what happened the last two weeks?

Summer happened.
Camping with family happened.
An impromptu trip to Seattle happened.

To compensate for the two week hiatus of the weekly review, I’m pleased to present the biggest and boldest collection yet — three week’s worth of the best public speaking articles.

Topics featured this week include:

  • public speaking book reviews;
  • the presentation debate between content vs style;
  • the innate connection between humans and storytelling;
  • benefits of recording your voice;
  • analysis of the Gettysburg Address;
  • slide design tips;
  • emcee advice;
  • and much, much, much more.

Public Speaking Blogs

Week in Review: Public Speaking Blogosphere

Speaker Resources – Book Reviews

This book ranks in the top 10 business books that I’ve ever read. The book is a collection of 50 short chapters that document an experiment—usually in social psychology—and then the ramifications of the findings. In a nutshell, the book truly does explain how to persuade.

Churchill often used conversations with friends and colleagues to try out phrases and concepts he was thinking about including in the speech. A trial run allows the speaker to refine content and increases the speaker’s comfort and confidence.


It’s your speaking ability that gets people to listen and not snooze, daydream or leave when you’re addressing them from the platform. But it’s your knowledge, expertise and experience that get them to come to your talk in the first place.

Storytelling is one of the few human traits that are truly universal across culture and through all of known history.

In your business presentations, you may be tempted to stick to hard, proven facts and statistics to persuade your audience. But a powerful anecdote can trump objective facts.

5. A quote. You could open and close with the same quote. Or a
different quote from the same person. This could be an especially
effective way to support the central theme of your talk.

Delivery Techniques

By focusing solely on your voice, you can find and correct vocal issues before you hit the stage. Further, by recording your voice, you’ll find that you’ll have better recall of your speech or presentation.

Does your pitch rise at the end like you’re asking a question, even when you’re not? This is a more common speech habit for women, but men do it too. It gives your speech a tentative quality, as though you’re asking for assurance or approval.

Visual Aids

On each section title slide I added in a picture of a single isolated bee to tie back to the theme of the buzz around virtualization. I also used the opening question again the conclusion. This is a very common structure for a speech or presentation. I have found success in tying in the opening at key points during the presentation and closing the loop at the end.

In the past, I used to recommend dark backgrounds primarily because projector lights were weak, requiring speakers to project in a darkened or semi-darkened room. … Today, however, projectors are stronger and performances usually occur in a fully lit or slightly dimmed room. In that case, light backgrounds are fine, and maybe are superior.

The first [situation] is when you are trying to show an overlapping relationship. It could be amongst roles, departments or product features. The key message is to show how some elements of each individual role/department/product are unique and some are the same as the other role/department/product. The Venn diagram makes these distinctions visually clear for your audience.

Speaker Habits

Eight times in 250 words — two minutes — Lincoln invokes the place by repeating the word ‘here’. … Repetition is an essential aspect of great public speaking. The trick is knowing what and how to repeat. Take a lesson from Lincoln. Sometimes its the little words that have the most power.

If you do have time, ask them a question to gain feedback on your presentation, like “what one thing did I say that has made a difference for you?” or “what did I say that will stick with you?”

… I figured that they’d be glad to get an extra ten minutes of content or at least want to go to the time the class was advertised to end. But then I looked at it from the audience’s perspective. …

If I had to make a very important speech, I would employ a speechwriter, because when I generate my own words, I don’t have a filter – someone to give me feedback on how what I’m saying is understood by others.

Audiences are very receptive to the vibes you send out. Being happy (really happy, not in a forced kind of way) helps ease your relationship with your audience.

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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. Great list this week, Andrew. Your time away has paid off well!

    Re: Robert Bly’s article. I agree with him 100% and repeat myself regularly. But to me, it’s not so much content that’s missing; it’s emotional connection. Many professional speakers have good content, but such slick and stagey presentation that I can’t relate to them as human beings. Being real and connecting with the audience could easily mitigate some of that stagey stuff, if they really feel they have to do it.

    Unfortunately, it’s not just pros I see doing this. I’ve seen lots of Toastmasters perpetrating this presentation style as well. Good content, over-the-top “technique” and no emotional connection leaves the audience a little dead inside. . .

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