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Quote for organization

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

― Pablo Picasso


Video for organization

This clip from the film “Billy Madison” illustrates the need to be organized. When using it in class, I would start a few seconds into the clip when the Industrial Revolution question is asked and Billy answers (some other versions of the clip at YouTube start there, but this one has better sound). Although the audience reacts positively, the teacher’s response shows that Billy has, in fact, failed to accomplish the goal of the speech.

I would ask some follow-up questions after showing the video:

  • While confidence can be faked, the same cannot be said for preparation. What are the signs that Billy is not prepared for his presentation?
  • Does the audience enthusiasm translate to a successful presentation?
  • Why not?

Link to video

Web resource about timing

Andrew Dlugan of Six Minutes offers some great advice about timing a presentation.

Students and new presenters often struggle with getting the timing right and make the mistake of trying to rush to work in all of their material. It is a better strategy to learn how to make adjustments to the speech while you have the audience’s full attention. This article suggests five ways to do that.

This would be good as supplemental reading for students or to create an in-class activity asking students for suggestions about what a speaker should do to get their timing right and then follow up with suggestions like these.

Link to article

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

Quote for stage fright

One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.

– Arthur Ashe

The Presentation Planning Checklist

This slide presentation would be great to share with students before their first speech or in a class without much time to cover the details of putting together a presentation. It would also be a strong addition to online class materials.

Creating Communication

We Are Visual’s Nadine Hanafi released a free e-book through Slideshare called “The Presentation Planning Checklist.”  Check it out below:


How do you plan for presentations?  Do you follow Hanafi’s guidelines, or do you have other practices and habits?

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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

An example about openings

This brief post from writer/speaker Jon Acuff has a great illustration about the importance of your opening line in public speaking. It would be a good example to share with students about why it is worth their time to plan something better than the “my topic is…” opening or “thanks for listening…” closing.

Link to article

A note on graded outlines

There are different ways to approach the outline assignment. You can have them all turn in an outline a week or so before the speeches and return them soon afterward or you can wait and have students turn in the outline on the speech date. I used a middle ground — staggered due dates. The students were assigned a speech day and their outline was due two classes before that day. That gave me one class to collect them and one class to return them. The advantage of this is that you do not get the outlines all at once and it is fair to the students because they all get the same amount of time with their outline comments.

The outlines themselves should not be worth very many points. I explained to my students that the outline will take a lot of time and be a lot of work, but it is the place to make mistakes. Because there are few points at stake here, any mistakes will not count heavily against you like they would in the speech so it is your chance to find and correct mistakes before the speech. I also tell them that I will grade the outlines assuming that everyone is planning for an A+ speech.

Outlines are best turned in on paper. I would

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If you don’t know what y…

If you don’t know what you want to achieve in your presentation your audience never will.

Harvey Diamond