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Organizing a Speech for Effective Delivery Part 3 of 3

This article is a continuation of

Last week we wrote about how to organise a speech using various speech outlines or speech structures such as Chronological, Spatial, Causal, Comparative, Topical & Problem-Solution. This week, we’ll move on to attention grabbing techniques in the opening of a speech & the importance of having smooth transitions in a presentation.

Attention Grabbing Techniques

Some techniques to use to craft a strong introduction would be:

    Starting with a bold or challenging statement
    A quotation which relates to speech
    A bold body movement
    An object or picture
    Vocal plays

Avoid these general openings:

    Weak questions
    Long winded story
    Apologetic statement
    Story or joke not related to speech

With the crafting of the introduction complete, we now move on to the body of the speech. This will contain the meat of the speech, the entire message which is the objective of the speech itself.

The Power of Three

The body should ideally convey 3 main points, in a technique called the “The Power of 3s” where 3 is ideally the number of points the audience is most receptive and able to remember. Writers call this The Language of Three. It essentially means the same. Anything beyond 3 main points will make the speech seem too heavy and loaded. Anything less will seem under-prepared and inadequate. With the 3 main points, you can have supporting materials to reinforce the 3 main points.

The supporting materials can be as below:

    Personal stories
    Visual aids
  • Public Speaking Tip Tuesday | 3 Tips for Organizing A Speech
    YouTube Video
    Public Speaking Tip Tuesday | 3 Tips for Organizing A Speech
The next part to craft will be the conclusion. This is just as important as the introduction. This is your final chance at reinforcing your message. This is also crucial that you add in that bit that urges a “call to action” to the audience. If however, when you have reached the conclusion and you suddenly realized you have missed out some points earlier on, resist the urge to go back. Remember, a speech development is one-way traffic, you only move forward, not backwards (unless you are using the flashback method in storytelling).
If there’s something you have missed out, do not go back and say the point, this will confuse the audience and will give the impression that you did not fully prepare and rehearse the speech in advance.

With practice and the tools provided in this article, you should not be at that stage where you missed certain points. The conclusion should ideally end with a “bang”; end with a powerful statement or reinforcement, or a “call to action” technique.

A typical skeleton speech outline would be as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
    ~ Main point 1
    ~~ Supporting materials
    ~ Main point 2
    ~~ Supporting materials
    ~ Main point 3
    ~~ Supporting materials
  3. Conclusion

Smooth Transitions

Another important thing to note is the transitions from one part to the next. The audience should be able to follow your speech development if you have crafted the speech and organized it in a coherent and flowing manner. You will also need to use carefully placed transitions to signal that you are moving on to the next part. This directs the audience to the flow you intended in your crafting of your speech. In an article like this, headings, bullets, and punctuation provide cues to the reader that help them understand the flow.

In a verbal presentation, pauses and transitional words or phrases help to achieve this effect so that the listeners know when one point ends, and the next begins. Transitional words and phrases are required to link the speech together in a cohesive unit.

Examples of transitional words:

Also, but, consequently, considering, finally, instead, later, meanwhile, moreover, next, then.

Examples of transitional phrases:

According to, as a result, for example, in addition, let’s begin with, more importantly, this means.

All the best to you for your next presentation. May your oratorical skills be uplifted by using the communications tips & tricks learnt in this article.

Organizing a Speech for Effective Delivery Part 2 of 3

This article is a continuation of

Last week we wrote about how to organise a speech using the Introduction, Body & Conclusion structure. We also emphasised that the speech must be easy to understand, remember, follow, believe & enjoyable. This week, we will explore other aspects of speech organisation.

To have an organized speech, you need to firstly select a topic you will talk about. This will sound a lot easier than it seems, especially for novice speakers. Once you take the first step, the rest will follow. Topic selection should be something you are passionate to talk about, share with others and have access to knowledge or information about.

Start collecting potential speech topics as you go through your daily life. Build on it bit by bit, so when it’s time for you to make that presentation, the whole speech is almost ready. The saying “Never judge a book by its cover” is not totally true in the speech title selection. The audience judges the speech from its title. To wow an audience, the title of the speech must be evocative. It should have enough oomph to bring interests to the topic, and enough information on what to expect from the speech itself. It serves as a directional sign on what the audience should expect. Sometimes, for the advanced speaker, selecting a speech title which is exactly not what the speech is about is intended, this is known as an Unexpected Twist or Abstract Technique to arouse curiosity, build suspense or to grab the audience attention.

Once you have your topic in mind, we can move on to building a speech itself. The speech consists of 3 parts; the Introduction, Body & Conclusion. The first thing to ask yourself is what the main message that you wish to convey to the audience from your speech is.

Once you have the direction, you can craft the 3 parts of the speech to that direction. Make an outline for the speech. What is it you will cover, what are the main points for the body, and what examples or supporting materials you will put in your speech.

Suggested Speech Outlines or Structures

Some of the possible outlines strategies you could adopt are:

    Chronological: Time
    This could be the past, present and future. Then, now and what will come.

    Spatial: Direction
    You will bring them on a journey along your speech, where we are currently at, and which direction should we be taking.

    Causal: Cause and Effect
    You mention the cause, the reasons for it, and finally the effects which are directly and indirectly linked as a result of that cause.

    Comparative: Compare and Contrast
    This is one of the easiest to use as you basically bring two or more ideas together, and you list down the similarities and differences in them.

    Topical: Sub Topics
    This is to have a main topic or story as the backbone of the speech, then having sub topics or smaller chunks of stories which link back to the original main idea. The sub topics will serve to reinforce the main idea and to support the findings of the main concept.

    Problem-Solution: Problem and the Solution
    People like to always have solutions fed to them. People generally have a lot of unsolved problems which they would absolutely love if someone would just present to them a simple and fuss-free solution. You mention the problem the audience might be experiencing and you present the solution. This gives the most value-add in any speech.

  • The surprising secret to speaking with confidence | Caroline Goyder | TEDxBrixton
    YouTube Video
    The surprising secret to speaking with confidence | Caroline Goyder | TEDxBrixton
Once you have the outline ready, we can begin to craft the introduction which is an important element of the speech. You need to have a very strong and memorable introduction. This is the part where the audience judges if you are a good speaker or not, and whether the speech is going to be a good one or not. This makes or breaks the entire speech and manages the audience’s expectations.

This article will be continued next week at the link

3 Secret Oratorical Techniques Used by Obama and Soekarno Part 2 of 2

This article is a continuation of Part 1 which was published last week. We analysed the first secret to becoming a great orator. Now, lets dive into the other two techniques used by Obama and Soekarno.

Repetition of Words

The second secret is repetition. Mechanical repetition of words is deliberately done by Obama and Soerkarno to give emphasis and reminders to the audience. This technique will reinforce the message and in turn becomes an effective message delivery technique.


We want our children to live in an America that is not burdened by debt, that is not weakened up by inequality, that is not threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.

(Paragraph 18 Obama Victory Speech 7 November 2012)


Ditengah-tengah (amidst) nyalanya api, ditengah-tengah (amidst) menggeledeknya meriam, ditengah-tengah (amidst) menghebatnya kekacauan, kita harus menjalankan, memperlengkapi, menyempurnakan pemerintahan kita.

(Paragraph 18 Independence Speech Soekarno August 17, 1946: Sekali Merdeka Tetap Merdeka)

You see how the two men are very skilled in the repetition of words. Conventional writing wisdom would require us to remove the “that is not” and “ditengah-tengah” in order to shorten the sentence and get to the point quickly. However. these great orators chose to deliberately repeat these words in order to drive home a message.

Using Body Language and Vocal Variety

The third secret is using appropriate body language and vocal variety.

Obama and Soerkarno understood the importance of the word intonation. They sometimes used fiery vocals for uplifting, and at other times spoke rather slowly with appropriate pauses to give a more profound effect to the audience.

Both these leaders’ body language in speech was just as good. They waved and pointed toward the audience, sincerely smiled, raised their hands in the air, stood upright with a sharp stare, and sometimes portrayed the facial expression of a soft hearted leader.


The expertise of Obama and Sukarno did not just happen. The two had mastered the techniques of great orators. Their expertise is not something that is gifted, but something that is learned and practiced continuously. You also can train and perform the technique.

You and I may not have the ambition to be the President of a country. However, these techniques may provide a lesson for us all. We may be required to speak in public one day. The use of emotionally charged words, repetition, as well as appropriate body language and intonation will certainly make us good motivational speakers or assume leadership roles.

Presenting Using Figures and Graphs the Steve Jobs’ Way Part 2 of 2

This article is a continuation of Part 1 which was published last week.

In Part 1 we observed how a normal speaker like myself would deliver a PowerPoint presentation involving figures and graphs.

Now let’s observe what the master presenter Steve Jobs did. Consider the following figures and graphs.ipod_sales2In this slide, Steve Jobs emphasized that in Q1 and Q2 2005 sales of iPods produced $6.2M in sales. You can see that there is a difference in the color of the slide which places emphasis on Steve’s message. This technique provides a contrast to the emphasis on graphics and numbers for the audience to better understand the meaning of what we want to convey.

Let’s see what he did next.ipod_sales3On the next slide, he gave a “picture” (figuratively speaking) of how $6M compares with $2M. The horizontal phone reflects a low sales volume ($2M) whereas the vertical phone represents the high sales volume ($6M).

Steve Jobs further emphasized that the $6M was not an ordinary achievement. In fact, it was a remarkable achievement because it proved the other top competitors were not able to produce such high sales. They only achieved sales of $2M during the same period.

That’s how Steve Jobs displayed the numbers and graphs. Other examples can be seen in the videos of his presentation on YouTube.

In closing, let us re-cap some good habits when presenting figures and charts.

1. Presentation of figures and charts should be made more meaningful to the audience by creating figures and graphs that are easily understood by an audience. The graphics do not need to have a lot of numbers and data. Keep it simple.

2. Break your presentation into multiple slides so that the audience can easily capture information step by step.

3. Make your audience understand numbers and graphics with emphasis or “contrast” such as having a with a darker shade of colour, having a different colour, a bold number or a different font size.

4. Do not forget to tell stories and analogies so that your figures become more meaningful. Steve Jobs once said that Apple could achieve a sales of $4M selling iPhones. Did he stop there? No. He went on to add that the sales figure was equivalent to 20,000 units of iPhones per day. With the additional information, the audience were able to easily visualize the sales of $4M.

5. Finally, when it comes to presenting numbers and graphs, we have the tendency to create these graphs without animation. This is what I refer to as the “lazy man’s work.” Animation helps you to explain your case step by step (mouse click by mouse click). Step by step explanation makes it easier for your audience to understand you. Of course, it takes more work and time to create such slides. However, if you aspire to become a master presenter like the late Steve Jobs, you’ll have to work a little harder than the average Joe 🙂

All the best to you in your next presentation.