Better Public Speaking


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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
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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.

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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