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Web resource on opening a presentation

Sims Wyeth at Inc. online offers “The Most Powerful Ways to Start a Presentation.”

This brief article begins by discussing research about the power of first impressions and then discusses specifics about what a speaker should do to start strong, including several examples.

The article would be great to use as lecture examples in class or to offer as reading material to students. His opening technique, “Walk to the front of the room with purpose, arrange your materials with silent grace…” etc. would be good to demonstrate for students as well.

Link to article


Video for delivery

Sound expert Julian Treasure delivers a great TED talk available for free at YouTube, “How to Speak so that People Want to Listen.”

While the full 10-minute video is fairly long for class, this one breaks down into three smaller segments which could be shown on their own for different topics.

  • The first part focuses on interpersonal issues — why are some approaches conversation killers?
  • The second portion focuses on characteristics of the voice — using the metaphor of a toolbox Treasure covers vocal qualities that a speaker wants to demonstrate and those to avoid.
  • The final (brief) portion covers warm-up exercises to practice before speaking. A demonstration of each exercise is given.

Either of the last two segments would be a great addition to the delivery topic in a public speaking class — either in class or as additional material available to students. The first segment also contains very good information, but would fit better in an interpersonal unit or related to audience adaptation than delivery.

Link to article (via Six Pixels of Separation blog)

Web resource for delivery

Scott Schwertly of Ethos3 offers “5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Read From Your Slides.” This brief article reinforces several things public speaking teachers say (or should be saying) to distinguish slides from the text of a written-out speech.

This article could be offered to students as supplemental reading (especially to those who fall into this habit). Alternately, the list could be offered in class and students broken into groups and asked to develop some strategies to help avoid doing this — keep slides simple, have separate notecards too, practice your material, etc.

Link to article

Web resource for public speaking advice

Entrepreneur magazine online offers “10 Honest and Completely Helpful Tips for Hitting a Public-Speaking Homerun.” The article is written in a light and funny style, yet hits most of the important points that public speaking teachers try to drive home — tell stories, do not read, and do not try to be someone else during your speech. There is also very good advice for handling Q&As.

The article also provides links to related points like the PowerPoint 10, 20, 30 rule. It would be a nice reading assignment to include about style if you are not using a public speaking textbook (say, including public speaking as part of another class) or to offer to students who have everything else working but still struggle with nerves or an overly formal presentation style.

Link to article

The Importance of Nonverbal Communication

A well-researched series of slides about nonverbal communication shared by Alex Rister at Creating Communication. These could be used in class or made available to your students online.

Creating Communication


How do you work to grow your nonverbal communication skills?

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Web resource for delivery

Public speaking coach and trainer Carol Andrew offers delivery and movement advice at the Fripp & Associates blog drawn from her ballet experience.

What I like about this advice is that it offers students several things they can do as warm-up activities before their speech to ease the initial nervousness and free up their movements during the speech.

Link to article

Web resource on delivery

The blog at Fripp & Associates has an excerpt from the book 11 Deadly Presentation Sins by Rob Biesenbach. The excerpt covers the question “why rehearse?”, exploding the notion that rehearsing makes a speaker sound “too scripted” or “inauthentic.”

Students were often surprised to hear that one of my college friends, who has delivered weekly sermons for nearly 20 years, still practices before every sermon. Or that I would practice the story several times that I would tell during the storytelling activity.

This would be a great resource to share with students skeptical about the need to rehearse once their preparation is finished, and includes examples like actors to back up the point. He concludes that rehearsal equals freedom.

Link to article

Web resource for language

Jeff Haden at offers “10 Phrases Great Speakers Never Say.” While this list is not directed toward students, it does include several mistakes that students often make. Along with listing each mistake it also explains why it is a mistake and what to do instead.

This would be a good addition to a class web site or to cite as backup, especially regarding how to treat visual aids.

Link to article

Web resource for delivery or organization

Terry Gault of The Henderson Group has done a guest post called “How to Avoid the 10 Most Common Rookie Mistakes in Public Speaking” at’s Presenter’s Guide.

The post contains a funny slideshow (above), which includes graphics, photos and movie clips. The additional text includes links to several other resources. One of these, also by Gault, answers a question that students often ask: “What the heck do I do with my hands?!?”

This would be an excellent link to provide to students at on your class site. The list could be developed into an in-class activity or out-of-class assignment asking students to react to the suggestions, for example to discuss which they find to be most and least important, and how they can use them in their own speeches.

Link to article

Web resource on delivery

Mitch Joel of Six Pixels of Separation does a great job of explaining why extemporaneous speaking is the most effective format.

Using the image of “horror story” he defines the limitations of both memorized and read speeches, particularly in a classroom setting.

This would be a great resource to share with new speech teachers or with students skeptical about the extemporaneous format.

Link to article