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.
Jeff Haden at Inc.com 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.
Stephanie Patterson of Duarte.com gives advice about preparing for question and answer sessions. In my experience, many textbooks treat this topic as an afterthought and it can be hard to find good advice and activities for students — and it is a component of the speech that students find especially stressful.
Some of the advice in this column could make students more nervous like “anticipate EVERY question” but there are also good tips here, such as: don’t fake answers and watch your body language.
One thing described in the post could be developed into an in-class activity. Patterson calls it an Audience Journey — list what the audience thinks, feels and believes about the topic before the presentation and what you want them to think, feel and believe at the end. As part of this process, make a list of what kinds of questions you may have to address. If any of those questions are not already in the presentation, then they either should be worked into the speech or you should prepare answers to them and expect them to come up in the Q&A.
Completed on their own (possibly as a homework assignment) or in small groups in class, this activity would be a great way to help students anticipate questions and learn to prepare for them.