Tuesday, November 27, 2007




29 – 31 MEI 2006


A speech needs time to grow. Prepare for weeks, sleep on it, dream about it and let your ideas sink into your subconscious. Ask yourself questions, write down your thoughts, and keep adding new ideas. As you prepare every speech ask yourself the following questions.

· In one concise sentence, what is the purpose of this speech?

· Who is the audience? What is their main interest in this topic?

· What do I really know and believe about this topic as it relates to this audience?

· What additional research can I do?

· What are the main points of this presentation?

· What supporting information and stories can I use to support each of my main points?

· What visual aids, if any, do I need?

· Do I have an effective opening grabber?

· In my final summary, how will I plan to tell them "What's In It For Me?"

· Have I polished and prepared the language and words I will use?

· Have I prepared a written and concise introduction for myself?

· Have I taken care of the little details that will help me speak more confidently?


Below are just a few suggestions you should use to overcome your speaking anxiety. The first and most important of all is preparation. I like to think of it as the 9 P's:

- Prior Proper Preparation

- Prevents Poor Performance

- of the

- Person Putting on the Presentation.

Nothing will relax you more than to know you are properly prepared. Below are 10 steps you can take to reduce your speech anxiety.

  1. Know the room - become familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive early and walk around the room including the speaking area. Stand at the lectern, speak into the microphone. Walk around where the audience will be seated. Walk from where you will be seated to the place where you will be speaking.
  2. Know the Audience - If possible, greet some of the audience as they arrive and chat with them. It is easier to speak to a group of friends than to a group of strangers.
  3. Know Your Material - If you are not familiar with your material or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. Practice your speech or presentation and revise it until you can present it with ease.
  4. Learn How to Relax - You can ease tension by doing exercises. Sit comfortable with your back straight. Breathe in slowly, hold your breath for 4 to 5 seconds, then slowly exhale. To relax your facial muscles, open your mouth and eyes wide, then close them tightly.
  5. Visualize Yourself Speaking - Imagine yourself walking confidently to the lectern as the audience applauds. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and assured. When you visualize yourself as successful, you will be successful.
  6. Realize People Want You To Succeed - All audiences want speakers to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They want you to succeed - not fail.
  7. Don't apologize For Being Nervous - Most of the time your nervousness does not show at all. If you don't say anything about it, nobody will notice. If you mention your nervousness or apologize for any problems you think you have with your speech, you'll only be calling attention to it. Had you remained silent, your listeners may not have noticed at all.
  8. Concentrate on Your Message - not the medium - Your nervous feelings will dissipate if you focus your attention away from your anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience, not yourself.
  9. Turn Nervousness into Positive Energy - the same nervous energy that causes stage fright can be an asset to you. Harness it, and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm.
  10. Gain Experience - Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. Most beginning speakers find their anxieties decrease after each speech they give.


Many presentations today are followed up with a question and answer period. To some people this can be the most exciting part of the presentation. To others it can be their worst nightmare. In fact, there are some presenters who purposely avoid the question and answer period all together. Below I have provided a 5 step approach to handling questions along with some additional tips to make your next question and answer session go smoother.

  1. Listen to the entire question Listen to the entire question BEFORE you begin to answer any questions. Too many people start responding to a question before the entire question is even asked. Not waiting to hear the entire questions can result in you providing a response which had nothing to do with the question. Force yourself to LISTEN to the entire question and make sure you understand the question.
  2. Pause and allow yourself time to value the question and listener. REPEAT the question out load so the entire audience can hear it. It is important that everyone "hear" the question or the answer you provide may not make sense to some of the people. By repeating the question, this will allow you some additional time to evaluate the question and formulate a response.
  3. Credit The Person for asking the question. You may say something like, "That was a great question" or, "Glad you asked that question" or even, "I get asked that question by many people". One word of caution. If you credit one person with asking a question, be sure to credit EVERYONE for asking a question. You don't want people to feel their question was not as important.
  4. Respond to the Question honestly and the best you can. If you do NOT know an answer to a question, do not try to fake it. Be honest, and tell them you do not know but DO promise to research the answer for them and DO get back to them.
  5. Bridge to the next question by asking them a question. "Does that answer your question?", "Is that the kind of information you were looking for?". This is critical.. Once they respond to you, "YES" you now have permission to go on to the next person. This also gives them one more opportunity to say, "No" and allow them to clarify their question more by asking it again.

Additional Tips on Handling Questions

  1. Ask people to stand up when they ask a question. This does two things: (1) It shows you more readily who is asking the question, and (2) It make it easier for the audience to also hear the question.
  2. Have small sheets of paper available for people to write down their questions during your presentation. They may forget what they were going to ask earlier.
  3. Allow people to pass the questions to you if they feel uncomfortable standing up and asking the question out loud. This gives the person who truly wants to ask a question an option.
  4. Always repeat the question - this does three things: (1) it makes sure you understood the question, (2) it gives you a chance to value the question and think of an answer, and (3) it assures the other people in the audience can hear the question since you are facing them.
  5. Always take time to think "before" you answer all questions. This allows you time to think, especially for those difficult questions. Do the same for those questions you readily know the answer for. Responding too quickly to those questions you are most comfortable with will only bring attention to those questions you do not.
  6. Have a pencil and paper available for you to write down questions you can't answer. You select someone to record the questions on paper. This way, you can properly follow up with the person who asked the question you couldn't answer. Be sure to get their name & phone number or address. Promise to get back to them and DO get back to them.


  1. Listen carefully to the question & repeat it aloud - Make sure you understood the question correctly & that your audience knows the question to which you are responding.
  2. Answer directly. Look directly at the person asking the question - Give simple answers to simple questions. If the question demands a lengthy reply, agree to discuss it later with anyone interested.
  3. Refer to your Speech - Whenever possible, tie your answer to a point in your speech. Look upon these questions as a way to reinforce & clarify your presentation.
  4. Anticipate areas of questioning - Prepare factual support material in three or four areas in which you anticipate questions.
  5. Be friendly, always keep your temper - A cool presentation creates an aura of confidence. When the questioner is hostile respond as if he or she were a friend. Any attempt to "put down" your questioner with sarcasm will immediately draw the audience's sympathy to the questioner.
  6. Always tell the truth - If you try to bend the truth, you almost always will be caught. Play it straight, even if your position is momentarily weakened.
  7. Treat two questions from the same person as two separate questions
  8. Don't place your hands on your hips or point at the audience - These are scolding poses and give you the appearance of preaching.
  9. Keep things moving - There is a rhythm to a good question-and-answer exchange. They volley back & forth in a brisk manner. Keep your answers brief and to the point with many members of the audience participating.
  10. Conclude smartly - Be prepared with some appropriate closing remarks. End with a summary statement that wraps up the essential message you want them to remember.


1. Rid Yourself of Distracting Mannerisms

Eliminate vocal and visual impediments. Some common faults of inexperienced or in-effective speakers are:

1. Gripping or leaning on the lectern

2. Finger tapping

3. Lip biting or licking

4. Toying with coins or jewelry

5. Frowning

6. Adjusting hair or clothing

7. Head wagging

These have two things in common:

1. They are physical manifestations of simple nervousness.

2. They are performed unconsciously.

When you make a verbal mistake, you can easily correct it, because you can hear your own words, but you can't see yourself, so most distracting mannerisms go uncorrected. You can't eliminate them unless you know they exist.

Videotape yourself.

The first step in eliminating any superfluous behavior is to obtain an accurate perception of your body's image. This should include:

1. Posture

2. Gestures

3. Body movement

4. Facial expressions

5. Eye contact

The next step is to free yourself of physical behaviors that do not add to your speech. This can be accomplished by simply becoming aware of your problem areas. After you have videotaped yourself speaking, review the tape several times and make a list of all the distracting mannerisms you notice.

First review. Review your tape the first time without looking for mannerisms. Just listen to the presentation as if you were hearing it for the first time and evaluate the overall impact you experience from watching the tape.

Second review. Review your tape a second time (with the volume turned down) and look for visual distractions. Take notes on what you observe.

Third review. During this review, have the picture turned off and listen only to your voice. Many people have never even heard a taping of their own voice before. Become accustomed to listening to your voice. Get to know it as others hear it. Note what you like and what you don't like. Pay attention to the speed, the volume, and the tone of your voice.

Fourth review. Once you have made lists both of your distracting mannerisms and your more positive points, you are ready to have one or two family members watch the tape with you. Get their initial impression. Ask them to be honest.

Once you have completed these reviews, go over the list of all the distracting mannerisms you saw and heard. The next time you are having a conversation with someone you know well, try to notice whether you use any of these distracting mannerisms even in casual circumstances. Tackle each of your negative points one at a time.

2. Build Self-confidence by Being Yourself

The most important rule for making your body communicate effectively is to be yourself. The emphasis should be on the sharing of ideas, not on the performance.

Strive to be as genuine and natural as you are when you speak to family members and friends.

Large vs. small audiences. Many people say, "I'm okay in a small group, but when I get in front of a larger group I freeze." The only difference between speaking to a small informal group and to a sizable audience is the number of listeners. To compensate for this, you need only to amplify your natural behavior. Be authentically yourself, but amplify your movements and expressions just enough so that the audience can see them.

3. Let Your Body Mirror Your Feelings

If you are interested in your subject, truly believe what you are saying, and want to share your message with others, your physical movements will come from within you and will be appropriate to what you are saying.

By involving yourself in your message, you'll be natural and spontaneous without having to consciously think about what you are doing or saying. For many of us, this isn't as easy as it sounds because it requires us to drop the mask that shields the "real self" in public.

To become an effective speaker, it is essential that you get rid of your mask and share your true feelings with your audience. Your audience wants to know how you feel about your subject. If you want to convince others, you must convey your convictions.

Speak from the heart and to the soul.

4. Build Self-confidence Through Preparation

Nothing influences a speaker's mental attitude more than the knowledge that he or she is thoroughly prepared. This knowledge leads to self-confidence, which is a vital ingredient of effective public speaking.

How many of us have ever experienced a situation in which we had not prepared well for a presentation? How did we come across? On the other hand, think of those presentations that did go well. These are the ones that we had properly prepared for.

5. Use Your Everyday Speaking Situations

Whenever you speak to people, make an extra effort to notice how you speak. Observe, too, whether the facial expressions of your listeners indicate they do or do not understand what you are saying. Before calling to request something on the phone, plan and practice what you are going to say. Even this is essentially a short presentation. Another exercise is to prepare a 90-second presentation about yourself. Describe who you are and what you do. Record your presentation and review it using the four steps described above.

Since you are talking about yourself, you don't need to research the topic; however, you do need to prepare what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Plan everything including your gestures and walking patterns.

Facial Expressions

Leave that deadpan expression to poker players. A speaker realizes that appropriate facial expressions are an important part of effective communication. In fact, facial expressions are often the key determinant of the meaning behind the message. People watch a speaker's face during a presentation. When you speak, your face-more clearly than any other part of your body-communicates to others your attitudes, feelings, and emotions.

Remove expressions that don't belong on your face.

Inappropriate expressions include distracting mannerisms or unconscious expressions not rooted in your feelings, attitudes and emotions. In much the same way that some speakers perform random, distracting gestures and body movements, nervous speakers often release excess energy and tension by unconsciously moving their facial muscles (e.g., licking lips, tightening the jaw).

One type of unconscious facial movement which is less apt to be read clearly by an audience is involuntary frowning. This type of frowning occurs when a speaker attempts to deliver a memorized speech. There are no rules governing the use of specific expressions. If you relax your inhibitions and allow yourself to respond naturally to your thoughts, attitudes and emotions, your facial expressions will be appropriate and will project sincerity, conviction, and credibility.

Eye Contact

Eye contact is the cement that binds together speakers and their audiences. When you speak, your eyes involve your listeners in your presentation. There is no surer way to break a communication bond between you and the audience than by failing to look at your listeners. No matter how large your audience may be, each listener wants to feel that you are talking to him or her.

The adage, "The eyes are the mirror of the soul," underlines the need for you to convince people with your eyes, as well as your words. Only by looking at your listeners as individuals can you convince them that you are sincere and are interested in them, and that you care whether they accept your message. When you speak, your eyes also function as a control device you can use to assure your listeners' attentiveness and concentration.

Eye contact can also help you to overcome nervousness by making your audience a known quantity. Effective eye contact is an important feedback device that makes the speaking situation a two-way communication process. By looking at your audience, you can determine how they are reacting. When you develop the ability to gauge the audience's reactions and adjust your presentation accordingly, you will be a much more effective speaker.

How To Use Your Eyes Effectively

1. Know your material. Know it so well that you don't have to devote your mental energy to the task of remembering the sequence of ideas and words.

You should prepare well (remember to use the 9 P's) and rehearse enough so that you don't have to depend heavily on notes. Many speakers, no matter how well prepared, need at least a few notes to deliver their message. If you can speak effectively without notes, by all means do so. But if you must use notes, that's fine. Just don't let them be a substitute for preparation and rehearsal.

Even many experienced speakers use notes. Often, they take advantage of such natural pauses as audience laughter or the aftermath of an important point to glance briefly at their notes. To make this technique work, keep your notes brief. (See Chapter 6 for more on this topic.)

2. Establish a personal bond with listeners. How do you do this? Begin by selecting one person and talking to him or her personally. Maintain eye contact with that person long enough to establish a visual bond (about 5 to 10 seconds). This is usually the equivalent of a sentence or a thought. Then shift your gaze to another person.

In a small group, this is relatively easy to do. But, if you're addressing hundreds or thousands of people, it's impossible. What you can do is pick out one or two individuals in each section of the room and establish personal bonds with them. Then each listener will get the impression you're talking directly to him or her.

3. Monitor visual feedback. While you are talking, your listeners are responding with their own non-verbal messages. Use your eyes to actively seek out this valuable feedback. If individuals aren't looking at you, they may not be listening either. Their reasons may include one or more of these factors:

· They may not be able to hear you.

· Solution: If you are not using a microphone, speak louder and note if that works.

· They may be bored.

· Solution: Use some humor, increase your vocal variety or add powerful gestures or body movements.

· They may be puzzled.

· Solution: Repeat and/or rephrase what you have just said.

· They seem to be fidgeting nervously.

Solution: You may be using distracting mannerisms. Maybe you have food on your clothes (or worse, maybe your blouse is unbuttoned or your fly isn't closed). Make sure you are aware of these embarrassing possibilities before and during your speech. If necessary, try to correct them without bringing more attention to them. On the other hand, if your listeners' faces indicate pleasure, interest and close attention, don't change a thing. You're doing a great job!

Your Appearance

If your listeners will have on suits and dresses, wear your best suit or dress - the outfit that brings you the most compliments. Make sure that every item of clothing is clean and well tailored.

Don't wear jewelry that might glitter or jingle when you move or gesture. This might divert attention from your speech. For the same reason, empty your pockets of bulky items and anything that makes noise when you move.

Part of the first impression you give occurs even before you are introduced to deliver your speech. As the audience arrives, your preparation should be concluded. You shouldn't have to study your speech. Instead, mingle with the audience, and project that same friendly, confident attitude that will make your speech a success.

When you speak-especially if you aren't well known to the audience-the most crucial part of your presentation is the first few minutes. During that initial segment, the audience will be making critical judgments about you. Your listeners will decide whether you are confident, sincere, friendly, eager to address them and worthy of their attention. In large measure, they will base this decision on what they see.

After your introduction, walk purposefully and confidently to the speaking position.

Walking Patterns

Why move in the first place?

Moving forces people to focus and follow you. The way you walk from your seat to the speaker's position is very important. When you are introduced, you should appear eager to speak. Too many speakers look as though they are heading toward execution.

Walk confidently from your seat to the lectern. Pause there for a few seconds, then move out from behind the lectern. As discussed before, it is wise to use the lectern as a point of departure, and not a barrier to hide behind.

Smile before you say your first words. Be careful not to stand too close to, nor move beyond, the people in the front row. Be careful not to walk too much. Doing so will work against you. Continuous pacing is distracting. Walking can be an effective way to stress an important idea. It is essential that your walk be purposeful and intentional, not just a random shift of position. Taking about three steps, moving at a shallow angle, usually works best.

When employing visual aids, use three positions. One position is your "home" position and should be front and center. The other two positions should be relatively near the "home" position. Never stand in front of any visual aid.

When you practice your speaking, make sure you also practice your walking patterns. Try walking to and from your three positions. These positions should be planned just as your hand gestures are.

When standing still, remember to maintain good posture. Stand up straight.

Remember it's not what you say it's how you say it and your body does speak very loudly. Only when you marry your verbal message and your nonverbal message do you begin to command presence as a speaker.


Here is a list of tips you need to know:

  • Be yourself. - Don't try to copy the facial expression style of someone else. For example, just because your favorite professional speaker starts his or her presentations by telling a story using exaggerated facial expressions doesn't mean it will work for you.

  • Don't overdo it. - Some people intentionally try to control their facial expressions by forcing themselves to smile or use another expression that isn't natural to them. Watch out for "fake" facial expressions that have a negative impact on your speech or compromise your sincerity.

  • Practice in front of a mirror. - Notice what expressions you use while speaking. Study how to control your facial expressions. Ask yourself, Do they match my words?

  • Create different moods. - While practicing in front of the mirror, see if your facial expressions convey the mood you want to create. If your face isn't showing any emotion, stop, refocus, and try again.

  • Think about what you are saying. - Focus on your message and communicating with your audience, and your facial expressions will follow.

  • Smile before you begin. - As I've said before, the one true international non-verbal expression understood by all is the smile. A warm smile before you begin to speak warms up an audience quickly, and ending with a smile puts your audience at ease with what they've just learned.


Changing your position or location while speaking is the broadest, most visible physical action you can perform. Therefore it can either help drive your message home or spell failure for even the most well-planned speech.

Moving your body in a controlled, purposeful manner creates three benefits:

1. Supports and reinforces what you say

2. Attracts an audience's attention

3. Burns up nervous energy and relieves physical tension

However, body movement can work against you. Rememember this one rule:


The eye is inevitably attracted to a moving object, so any body movement you make during a speech invites attention. Too much movement, even the right kind, can become distracting to an audience. Bear in mind the following types of body movement:

- Stepping forward during a speech suggest you are arriving at an important point.

- Stepping backward indicates you've concluded an idea and want the audience to relax for a moment.

- Lateral movement implies a transitional it indicates that you are leaving one thought and taking up another. For example, if you are ready to move on to your next point, move slowly sideways until you are standing next to the lectern.

The final reason for body movement is the easiest; to get from one place to another. In almost every speaking situation, you must walk from the location you are addressing your audience to your props, especially if you are using visual aids. Always change positions by leading with the foot nearest your destination.

You may ask, Why move in the first place? Moving forces people to focus and follow you. The way you walk from your seat to the speaker's location is very important. When you are introduced, you should appear eager to speak. Many speakers look as though they are heading toward execution.

  • Walk confidently from your seat to the lectern. Pause there a few seconds and then move out from behind the lectern. It is wise to use the lectern as a point of departure, not a barrier to hide behind. I personally do not use lecterns.

  • Smile before you say your first words.

  • Don't stand too close or move beyond the first row of people.

  • Walking stresses an important idea. It is essential that you walk with purpose and intention, not just a random shift of position. For example, taking about three steps, moving at a slight angle, usually works best.

  • Use three positions with visual aids, Your "home" position is front and center. The other two positions should be relatively near the "home" position. You can move to the right of the lectern and then to the left. Using and varying these three positions prevents you from favoring one side of the audience. If you're speaking on stage, these three positions are called front center, stage left, and stage right. Never stand in front of any visual aid.

  • Practice your walking patterns to and from your three positions. These positions should be planned just as your hand gestures are, to some degree. For example, you want your body to move and gesture naturally. However, since most people are nervous about speaking in public, they tend to stiffen their muscles and hold back their natural tendency to gesture. Let your body tell you when it wants to move.


There are 7 aspects people must deal with when preparing and delivering presentations. An effective speaker learns to deal with all 7 aspects at the same time. Failure to pay attention to all of these aspects can result in an ineffective presentation. Failure to pay attention to too many of these can result in disaster.

1. Speaker

2. Message

3. Audience

4. Channel

5. Feedback

6. Noise

7. Setting


There are three factors we need to consider about any speaker:

  1. His / Her motivation in giving the presentation
  2. His / Her credibility as a speaker
  3. His / Her delivery or speaking style

· A Speaker's motivation can be approached in terms of two considerations:

i. Speaker's credibility

ii. Speaker's delivery

The delivery, the way the message is presented, should compliment the speech's objective. A well written speech delivered poorly can quickly lose effectiveness.


The message refers to EVERYTHING a speaker does or says, both verbally and non-verbally. The verbal component may be analyzed in terms of 3 basic elements:

  • Content
  • Style
  • Structure

Let's look at each of these elements.

    • Content - is what you say about your topic. The content is the MEAT of your speech or presentation. Research your topic thoroughly. Decide on how much to say about each subject. Then decide on the actual sequence you will use. It is important that you consider the audience's needs, time factors, and other items as the content of your speech or presentation is prepared and presented.

    • Style - The manner in which you present the content of your speech is your style. Styles can vary from very formal to the very informal. Most presentations fall between these two extremes and in EVERY case, the style should be determined by what is appropriate to the speaker, the audience, as well as the occasion and setting.

    • Structure - The structure of a message is its organization. There are many organizational variations, but in each case, the structure should include:
      • An Introduction
      • A Body
      • A Conclusion

The introduction should include:

- an opening grabber such as a quote or shocking statistic.

- an agenda

- the purpose or main message of your presentation.

The body should include:

- your main points or ideas.

- points which support your main message.

The conclusion should include:

- a summary of your main points.

- a closing grabber.

- time for questions & answers, if appropriate.

When speeches and presentations are poorly organized, the impact of the message is reduced and the audience is less likely to accept the speaker or the speaker's ideas.


As a speaker you should analyze your listeners and then decide how to present your ideas. This analysis might include considerations related to:

- Age

- Sex

- Marital Status

- Race

- Geographic location

- Group membership

- Education

- Career

Using the word " A-U-D-I-E-N-C-E " as an acronym, I have defined some general audience analysis categories that your surveys should include:

A_udience - Who are the members? How many will be at the event?

U_nderstanding - What is their knowledge about the topic you will be addressing?

D_emographics - What is their age, sex, educational background, etc.?

I_nterest - Why will they be at this event? Who asked them to be there?

E_nvironment - Where will I stand when I speak? Will everyone be able to see me?

N_eeds - What are the listener's needs? What are your needs as a speaker? What are the needs of the person who hired you?

C_ustomized - How can I custom fit my message to this audience?

E_xpectations - What do the listeners expect to learn from me?


When we communicate with our audiences, we use many channels of communication. This includes non-verbal, pictorial and aural channels.

It is very important that you use as many channels as you can to communicate with your audience. The more channels of communication you can use at the same time, the better. I have provided a brief list of examples for each of these types:

A. Nonverbal

1. gestures

2. facial expressions

3. body movement

4. posture

B. Pictorial

1. diagrams

2. charts

3. graphs

4. pictures

5. objects

C. Aural

1. tone of your voice

2. variations in pitch and volume

3. other vocal variety


By "feedback" I mean the process through which the speaker receives information about how his or her message has been received by the listeners and, in turn, responds to those cues.

The feedback process is not complete until the speaker has responded to the listener. This process includes the listener's reactions to the speaker's response and so forth.

You can ask your audience questions and even ask them what their understanding is of the point you have just made. Watch for non-verbal clues from your audience and be prepared to respond to the reactions of your audience throughout your presentation.


There are two types of noise a speaker must contend with:

        1. External Noise
        2. Internal Noise

Let's look at each of these.

External Noise - consists of sounds, people talking, coughing, shifting patterns, poor acoustics, temperature (too warm, too cold), poor ventilation, and visual interference such as poor lighting, or an obstructed view.

Internal Noise - if a speaker is confused or unclear about what he or she wants to express, this is due to internal noise. Internal noise can also arise if the speaker does not know or misanalyzes the audience.

The role of the audience and the speaker is to simultaneously communicate with each other. It is this transactional nature of speech that makes feedback, and attempts to eliminate noise, so important.

The most specific way a speaker can use to combat noise are:

a. Use more than one channel of communication at the same time (verbal & non-verbal)

b. Use repetition and restatement.

The speaker can help combat this noise by making an extra effort to use as many channels of communications at the same time. It is important to include both verbal and non-verbal means of communication.


The place in which you deliver your presentation may be one that enhances or interferes with the effectiveness of your presentation. Determine ahead of time what the facilities are like before you speak. This way you can properly plan your delivery or make adjustments, if necessary.

I recommend, when practical, that you make a trip to the location where your speech will take place. I even go so far as to ask the exact room I will be presenting in and ask the hotel conference coordinator to let me visit the room and check things out.

Look at speaking engagements as opportunities to practice your speaking skills.

To be truly prepared and effective as a presenter, you must pay attention to all 7 of these aspects discussed above. This will take practice. The time you spend remembering these aspects will be worth the effort.


"Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't; the other half have nothing to say and keep saying it."

Anyone can give a speech. Not everyone can give an effective speech. To give an effective speech there are 6 elements you should consider.

  1. Be Prepared - Being prepared is by far the most important element. How many times do you practice your speech? As a general rule, you should spend about 30 hours of preparation and rehearsal time for every hour you will be speaking. Use a tape recorder or videotape yourself. This will help you to get an accurate picture of how you speak.

  1. Give of Yourself - Use personal examples and stories in your speech whenever possible. Make sure your stories help to emphasize or support your point. The stories must match your message. Use examples from your personal and professional life to make your point. In either case be willing to give of yourself by sharing some of yourself with the audience.

  1. Stay Relaxed - To stay relaxed you should be prepared. Also, focus on your message and not the audience. Use gestures, including walking patterns. Practice the opening of your speech and plan exactly how you will say it. The audience will judge you in the first 30 seconds they see you.

  1. Use Natural Humor - Don't try to be a stand up comedian. Use natural humor by poking fun at yourself and something you said or did. Be sure NOT to make fun of anyone in the audience. People will laugh with you when you poke fun at yourself but don't over do it.

  1. Plan Your Body & Hand Positions - During the practice of your speech look for occasions where you can use a gesture. Establish three positions where you will stand and practice not only how to move to them but where in your speech do you move. Pick three positions, one on center stage, one to your right, and one to your left. Do not hide behind the lectern. When you do move maintain eye contact with the audience.

  1. Pay attention to all details - Make sure you have the right location (school, hotel, room & time). Make sure you know how to get to where you are speaking. Ask how large an audience you will be speaking to. Make sure you bring all your visual aids and plenty of handouts. Arrive early so you can check out where you will be speaking and make any last minute adjustments.

It is very important that you pay attention to even the smallest details. You can never over plan. Remember, "He who fails to plan is planning for failure"


Remembering speeches can be a very intimidating experience. There are many ways one can remember material and I would like to focus on what I believe are the 4 common ways to remember material.

1. Memorizing

2. Reading from complete text

3. Using Notes

4. Using Visual Aids as Notes

Let's take a look at each of these in detail.

1. Memorizing -In my opinion, this is absolutely the worst way to keep track of material. People are preoccupied with trying to remember the words to say and not the ideas behind the words (or with the audience). As a result, normal voice inflection disappears. With memorizing, mental blocks become inevitable. With memorizing it is not a matter of "will" you forget; it's a matter of WHEN!

2. Reading from complete text - Listening to someone read a speech or presentation is hated by most people. People say, "If that's all they were going to do is read there speech, I could have read it myself." I'm sure many of us have experienced this at least once while attending a conference or two. Below are some reasons why I believe people read poorly:

- The speaker loses normal voice inflection because they lose touch with the ideas behind the words. Listen for pauses. Natural speech is filled with pauses; unnatural speech is not.

- The text isn't spoken language - too often speakers write their speeches in "business language". That is often hard to read, much less listen to.

- The speech isn't static - the potted plant will probably move more. There is little movement, little energy, little interest behind the lectern.

- There's no or little eye contact - any eye contact is with the text, not the audience. To read text while trying to maintain eye contact with the audience takes a lot of practice.

- The speaker is scared - many speakers read because they are afraid to try anything else. They know reading will fail but at least it will fail with a small "f" rather than a capital one.

NOTE: Don't get me wrong, there are times when speeches MUST be read. Many times it is necessary to read policy statements or company announcements. Also, some speeches must be timed right down to the second.


If reading is absolutely necessary, here are some suggestions:

- Pay attention to the inflection in your voice - to sound natural, rehearse often, checking yourself for pauses. Ask yourself if your words sound the way you would say them if you weren't reading. Tape yourself and listen to your own voice. Take notes where changes should be made with the inflection in your voice.

- When preparing your written speech, say the words "out loud" first in order that your written text will read closer to your speaking style. This will make it easier to read and much easier to listen to. People often DO NOT write the same way as they speak and this makes reading more difficult. If we use wording and phrasing we normally use in our everyday language it will be easier to add the correct voice inflection and tone. Annotate your text to indicate which words to emphasize. Numbers are the easiest target words to say slowly with emphasis on each syllable.

- One of the biggest problems speakers face when reading text is that we often forget to use gestures. We are so busy making sure we read the text we fail to communicate effectively with our entire body. One thing we can do to help this is to "double space" your typed text to leave room to add notes or cues about gestures and other reminder type clues. We need to practice using this annotated text of our speech so we can easily and smoothly react to these cues for our gestures while at the same time correctly read the text. This does take some practice. Some people do this very effectively.

3. Using Notes - This is the most common way for remembering material. Using notes is better than reading since the speaker can have normal voice inflection and make more effective eye contact. If your notes are on the lectern, you probably won't move very far from them. If notes are in your hand, you probably won't gesture very much.

Below are some suggestions to consider if you decide to use notes:


- Use note cards. Include quotes, statistics and lists you may need, NOT paragraphs of text. VERY IMPORTANT: Number your note cards! (Just in case you drop them).

- Don't put too much information on each note card or you will find yourself reading too much. Put only a few words or key phrases.

- Leave your notes on the lectern or table and move away occasionally. Don't be afraid to move away from your notes and get out of your comfort zone. Too many speakers use the lectern to hide behind and this restricts the effective use of your entire body.

- Practice using your note cards. If you find yourself reading your note cards too much, this is a sure clue you need to reduce the amount of written text on each card. Remember, all you need are short phrases or key words, enough to "jog" your memory.

- Use pictures or picture maps to guide yourself. Pictures help you to "visualize" the key points of your speech. Use mental pictures as well to tell the story in your head. This will take some creativity, but will be worth the effort.

4. Using Visual Aids As Notes - Simple visual aids can effectively serve as headings and subheadings. Speak to the heading. Say what you want to say and move on. If you forget something, that's okay; the audience will never know unless you tell them.

Practice creating just a few meaningful headings to use and practice using only these headings as your "cues". This will take practice, but practicing using only these few words will force you to better internalize your speech.

This has four important advantages:

- You don't have to worry about what your are going to say next. Your visual aids provide you with your "cues" of your next major idea or thought. All you need to do between ideas is to use an effective transitional statement. (See my tips on using transitions).

- Having only a few key words on your visual aid allows you to move around the room without the need or feeling you need to go back to your notes. In fact, most inexperienced speakers don't move around at all. Movement also helps you to relax and adds energy to your presentations. Movement also allows the listeners to follow you and pay closer attention to you and your message. Plan your movements during your rehearsals. Decide where in your presentation it makes sense to move. If you find yourself starting to sway from side to side, take one or two steps and stop again, standing evenly on both feet. Keep your weight evenly distributed on both feet. This will help keep you from swaying.

- You can have good eye contact with your audience. You can look at your audience all the time while speaking - except for that brief moment you look at your visual aid. But that's okay since the audience will probably follow you and also look at your visual aid. This will help the audience to "see" your message as well as "hear" your message. The more you rehearse and the more you become familiar with your visual aids, the easier it becomes.

- Your audience will feel comfortable that you are on your planned track. Well designed visuals aid show the audience that you DO have a plan and have properly prepared and are following your plan.

Keep in mind, your visual aids do not have to be only word charts. They can contain diagrams, pictures or even graphs.

NOTE: When you use visual aids, always introduce your visual aid before you actually show the visual aid. Rehearse your presentation with your actual visual aids. It is very important that you are very familiar with your visual aids. Make sure your message and visual aids match. There is nothing worse than showing a visual aid which does not go along with what you are saying.

Regardless of which method you choose to use to remember your material, nothing will help you more that proper planning and preparation. Remember to prepare, prepare, prepare!

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