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5 Manuscript Speech Tips

We like presentations that are delivered without fear, and without a script. But, if you find yourself in a public speaking circumstance where you need to read from a prepared manuscript, here are five tips to help guarantee smooth delivery.

1) Large Type. Print out your speech in type that is large enough to be read easily from a lectern. Place sheets in sheet protectors and place them in an unobtrusive thin white three-ring binder. Arrange the pages so that there are always two full pages facing you, which minimizes page-turning. That means some sheet protectors will have two pages in them, back-to-back. Here’s a short video showing what that looks like.

2) Practice Reading Aloud. Practice reading out loud and turning the pages. Try to look up from the pages as much as possible so that when you deliver the speech, you will be able to make eye contact with your audience. Use intonation when reading so that you don’t sound monotone or like you are reading it for the first time. Read in a conversational tone. Make sure you are pronouncing all the words you are using correctly.

3) Focus on your vocal variety. Remember that pausing can be powerful. Pause before and after an important point. If you are a natural fast-talker, slow down when you make important points. Practice your pace. Find the right speed. Your goal for your conclusion should be that everyone will know that you are done without you have to say “thank you.”  You accomplish that by adjusting your pace and pause, and, to a lesser extent, your pitch and power.

4) Research. Before you speak, find out if the lectern will be lit well enough for you to read. Don’t forget to bring reading glasses if you need them. Also, find out if you will be speaking with a microphone and practice accordingly. If the speech is supposed to be a particular length, practice with a timer. By aware that some people read faster at a live event because of adrenaline.

5) Practice, practice, practice. Always read out loud. Practice reading it in front of friends or family. Record yourself.

By following these tips, you can turn a manuscript speech into a well-delivered presentation.

 

 

4 Speech Structures Beyond ‘Intro, Body, Conclusion’

Every speech and every business presentation should be built upon a solid structure to keep you on point and on time, and to help the audience make sense of what you’re talking about. Every speech and every presentation should have three main parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end.

In public speaking, we often think of that three-step structure as an Introduction, a Body, and a Conclusion. We must set the stage with an introduction, then present our content, and then wrap everything up. This is a good way to think about your speech or presentation when you are putting together your content.

But there are some other ways to think of those same three parts that might help you think about and frame your content even better. Here’s a summary of four other approaches to consider.

1) Problem, Solution, Result. What is the problem, what is the solution, and what great outcomes happen when we fix it. This one works well for problem-solving presentations.

2) What, So What, What Next. What is the situation is, why does it matter, and what action should we take as a result of it. This one works well for persuasive presentations.

3) Curiosity, Insights, Commitment. First, hook your audience in with curiosity, then provide new information, and fi9nally ask for a commitment and the specific actions you want them to take. This approach works well for a storytelling presentation that seeks to persuade.

4) Empathy, Suspense, Surprise. Begin by connecting with the audience emotionally, then build suspense with nee information, and concludes with a surprise that makes the important point you are trying to make. This one works well with storytelling that seeks to enlighten an audience.

Note that in all of these potential structures, the sequence of the steps is crucial; you can’t skip steps. The situation, problems, action steps, and positive outcomes must be clearly defined.

Great speeches and presentations are built upon solid structures. Find the one that best fits your content and you will set yourself up for great speaking success.

RELATED POSTS

Intro, Body, Conclusion

What, Now What, What Next

The Magnificent Magic of Metaphorical Speech

Metaphors and analogies are a powerful way for a public speaker or business presenter to communicate complex concepts to their audiences. Metaphorical language can increase understanding, make concepts more relatable, and cast concepts in a new or better light. But perhaps the most powerful aspect of metaphorical language is its ability to evoke strong emotions.

MLK was a Master of Metaphor

Martin Luter King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech is an incredibly moving oration with many great examples of the magic of metaphors and analogies to create relatable emotions that capture exactly how his audience felt. One powerful example of metaphorical language he used in the speech is the following:

“In a sense, we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.”

Rather than carrying on a high-level discussion of Constitutional law, King nails it by using the simple concept of being on the receiving end of a bounced check. Everyone in the audience could relate to what a bad check is, but more importantly exactly how it feels to receive one. A flood of emotions happen when receiving a rubber check. You feel cheated, disrespected, belittled, hopeless, frustrated, disappointed, in disbelief, and downright angry. Think that captured the way African
Americans felt in 1963?

 

Relatable and Emotionally Engaging

But don’t think you have to be leading a major social justice movement to use metaphorical language in your speeches and presentations. Taking a cue from Dr. King, I once used such language to describe the importance for companies to have an up-to-date crisis communication plan. I wanted my audience to be able to relate to this concept in a personal way and I wanted them to feel the emotion of not having such a plan when they really needed it. Here’s what I came up with: “Not having an up-to-date crisis communication plan is like reaching for a flashlight when the lights go out and discovering that the batteries are dead.”

Think about the concepts you present frequently in your public speaking or business presentations. Is there a way to make them more relatable and more emotionally engaging for your audience? There just might be when you find the right metaphorical language. And when you do, you’ll have a more powerful presentation that turns heads, wins hearts and gets results.

 

 

 

 


RELATED POSTS

What MLK Taught Us About Change Communication

“I Have a Dream” Speech

“I Have a Dream Speech [text]

 

Correct Mispronounced Words

By Paul Barton

Throughout my career, I’ve occasionally encountered a business professional who had one particular word that they consistently mispronounced. These were intelligent people who otherwise were well-spoken. But one troublesome word that they consistently mispronounced was undermining their entire message. I could see the pained looks of disapproval on the faces of others around the conference table. It was sad to me to see the mispronunciation of a single word chip away at the credibility of everything else the speaker was saying.

Some of the cringe-worthy mispronunciations I heard included:

  • Physical instead of fiscal
  • Post or posed instead of supposed
  • Pacifically instead of specifically
  • Prolly or probly instead of probably

Maybe you’ve heard something similar. Maybe, you have a troublesome word of your own. It can happen to anyone. Barrack Obama consistently mispronounced the word “corpsman.” George W. Bush consistently mispronounced “nuclear.”

Kill the Word that is Killing Your Credibility

If you have a word that you consistently mispronounce, I challenge and encourage you to make 2020 the year you kill the word that is killing your credibility. Perhaps you learned to say the word incorrectly as a child and then it became a habit. Old habits are hard to break. But you can break them the same way you formed them — with repetition.

How to Practice

First, learn the correct way to pronounce the word. Start by writing out a phonetically correct pronunciation of the troublesome word (e.g., Fiscal – Fiss-Cal). Tape it on your bathroom mirror and say it correctly out loud several times every morning. Focus on getting the correct pronunciation. It is crucial that you practice out loud. Find other places and times to practice. Put a copy on the empty passenger seat in your car or in your lunch bag. Practice, practice, practice.

Audiences judge you, at least in part, on the words you use and how well you pronounce them. By practicing consistently, you can overcome bad speaking habits and become a better speaker. And with better pronunciation will come better credibility.

Here’s to new beginnings. Cheers!


If you live in Phoenix and want to conquer your fear of public speaking in 2020, check out this workshop.

Don’t live in Phoenix? Look for our new online fear-busting public speaking course coming later this month. Give us your name and email, and we’ll let you know as soon as it launches. You can even get in on some early-bird pricing.

Audiences Like Vocal Variety

Is it best to talk slow or talk fast when giving a business presentation? Is it best to talk loud or soft when public speaking? How about your pitch — low or high? And how about no noise at all or talking constantly? The answer to all these questions is — “Yes!” That’s right. Audiences want it all. Too much of the same becomes boring and your audience will quit listening to you.

What audiences want is vocal variety. It’s vocal variety that adds the energy to your content. I’ve broken down vocal variety in these four categories: Pace, Power, Pitch, and Pause. Here’s a look at how you can use each to be a great speaker.

The 4Ps of Public Speaking

Pace — It’s easy to get into a rhythm when speaking and that can become boring to your audience. Slow down to emphasize key points. Speak a little faster when presenting supporting thoughts or to convey excitement.

Power — We know we can get attention by raising our voice for emphasis, but sometimes you can get more attention by whispering, especially if you’re saying something in a soft voice like “Do you want to know the secret?”

Pitch — No one likes to listen to a monotone. We all like to hear pitch variations. Change your pitch slightly when quoting someone when you’re telling a story. Questions are another natural way to vary our pitch. You can use rhetorical questions or self-questioning (“Should we do it? You bet we should. Can we do it? You bet we can!”) to achieve this effect. While we like pitch variety, no one likes “upspeak” (adding an up pitch at the end of a declarative sentence making it sound like a question.)

Pause — Perhaps the most powerful tool in a public speaker’s toolbox is saying nothing at all. Pause after key points to let the message sink in. Pause after questions to let the audience consider how they feel. Here is some more detail about how to use the power of the pause.

Vocal variety brings your content to life. Learn how to incorporate your vocal variety into an authentic, conversational tone, and your presentations will rock!

 

 

PowerPoint Tip: Use Blank Slides Instead of Filler

Sometimes fewer is better. Sometimes nothing means a lot. Sometimes, you don’t need to have a PowerPoint slide to go with each and every point in your presentation.

It’s easy for public speakers and business presenters to fall into that trap and you can find yourself wasting hours upon hours trying to find images and putting together needless slides when perhaps a few key slides are all your audience really needs. (Notice we said “your audience” because they are who really matters in content decisions.)

Great Slides Add Value

Good slides support and enhance your points. Great slides add value. If you need a chart, a graph or an image to explain or strengthen your point, then, by all means, use it. But what if all you really need is a graph and your other slides are really just filler?

Consider this solution: Sandwich the slide you actually want to show between two blank slides. Here’s how: Create a slide with a solid black background. The solid color will keep the projection screen from being a distraction. Now insert the graph you actually need after your blank slide and then create another blank slide to go after the graph.

The Solution

Here’s how this scenario might play out: You begin your presentation and quickly grab the attention of your audience. There is a blank slide on the screen but the audience probably doesn’t realize that the projector is even turned on. Your audience is focused on you and what you’re saying. You are the center of attention, not the slides. Then, you click your presentation remote and, viola, there is your graph. The graph stands out and makes your point clearer. The graph adds value. You then click the remote again to another blank slide and continue speaking. All eyes are on you. Now, you’re ready for your big finish.

Of course, there are many situations when you’ll want a full slide deck complete with a title slide, numerous points, and final thoughts. As in all good design, the form should always follow the function. But always ask yourself these questions before settling on a slide strategy: Who is the star of this presentation, me or the slides? Am I running the slides or are they running me? What’s best for my audience?

The answers to those questions will help you to create a more powerful, more persuasive presentation.


LOTS OF RELATED POSTS

What’s On Your Final Slide? Hint: It’s not “thank you.”

PowerPoint Tips to Make Your Presentation More Powerful Great tips from a top-notch graphic artist.

Where to Get PowerPoint Ideas? Yep, thousands of them.

Use PowerPoint to Enhance To slide or not to slide; that is the question.

Use a PowerPoint Remote or a Helper Connect better with your audience. No, really.

How to Create Visual Slides Your Audience Will Remember Tons of tips and things to think about.

 

Top Public Speaking Blogs

What are the very best public speaking blogs on the web? Well, this one for starters. That’s according to the fine folks at Feedspot who list the Top 52 public speaking blogs from around the world. We spent a little time browsing through the others on the list and discovered that we’re among great company. There are a lot of great resources out there. Check it out for yourself.

And if you haven’t subscribed to this blog yet, we hope you’ll consider doing so. It’s loaded with free tips, tricks, and techniques that you can use to make your business presentations pop. By subscribing, you’ll receive our latest posts delivered right to your inbox. It’s easy, quick and free. So, sign-up today.

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Pack a Powerful Presentation Punch with The Power of Three

Small, medium, large. Past, present, future. On your marks, get set..GO!

We like hearing things in threes. Our brains are hardwired for them. After all, we count to three before taking a group photo right? You’d surely count to three before plunging off a zipline tower for the first time, wouldn’t you? And, of course, as any Monty Python fan can tell you, you must count to three before lobbing the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Think about the classic Western movie “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Ugly doesn’t logically fit but it seems like it does because we like the pattern of three so much.

Want more proof? The Three Stooges. The Three Amigos. The Three Musketeers. Ho, ho, ho. Ha, ha, ha. Hee, hee, hee. A, B, C and 1, 2, 3. Oh, and don’t forget: the third time is a charm.

Yep, three is perfection. Three is completion. Three means business.

In public speaking, things said in threes help you land your important points in a memorable, persuasive, and powerful way. The trinity tool is a good one to keep in your verbal vault.

So, here are (you guessed it) three ways you can use the awesome Power of Three in your presentations:

  1. Make a point by constructing a superlative sentence, such as, “That was good, this is better, our proposal will be the BEST!”
  2. Build to three with the third item being a powerful payoff, as in this line from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.”
  3. Create a humorous line by building to an unexpected third item, such as, “When I was young I had hopes, I had dreams, I had HAIR!”

Learn how to use the Power of Three and you’ll be a more powerful, polished presenter. And that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


THREE RELATED VIDEO LINKS

> Gettysburg Address recreation. Listen for the Power of Three here and again here.

> Benjamin Netanyahu United Nations Speech selection. Listen for the Power of Three here and here. (This speech also contains what must be the longest pause ever.)

> And, you have to hear this hysterical Your Thought Leader parody poking fun of the Power of Three.

What’s on Your Final Slide?

What’s on the last slide in your business presentation? For many, it’s a slide that says “Thank You!” Well, that’s simply not as powerful or as useful for your audience as it could be. Instead, we suggest using that space for something fresh and more meaningful. Think of it this way: The final slide should stay on the screen until every last member of the audience has left the room. It’s the last opportunity to communicate with them. What information, what thoughts and what feelings do you want your audience to leave the room with?

Here are seven suggestions for slides you can use to have a fantastic finish:

(1) Business Card. A close-up photo of your business card, perhaps with your hand holding it as in the photo at left. This reminds your audience of what you do for business when not presenting and gives them the opportunity to take a photo of the slide for future reference.

(2) Contact Information. If not a business card, perhaps a list of various ways to connect and stay in contact with you to “keep the conversation going.” This could include your social media channels, a mail list signup, or a private group on LinkedIn or Facebook.

(3) Summary of Key Points. A brief listing of the key messages you really want your audience to remember.

(4) Call to Action. The one thing you want the audience members to do or to remember above all else.

(5) Next Steps. A list of the action steps audience members should take following the presentation.

(6) Final Thoughts. A final thought, such as the fortune cookie photo at the top of this post, or a powerful closing quote. Leave your audience feeling hopeful about the future.

(7) Bookend Thought. If your presentation began with a provocative question or thought, you could return to that question or thought on your final slide and bring it all full circle for your audience.

People tend to remember the first and the last thing you say the most so you want to end strong. By choosing a slide that has some meaning for your audience, you’ll have a much more powerful finish and a much better chance of leaving a lasting impression.

Do you have an idea for a final slide that isn’t listed here? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear them.

Getting Just the Right Volume

How loud should you talk without a microphone in a room full of people? Here’s how to determine just the right volume so that you can influence and persuade your audience when public speaking in a meeting space or making your next business presentation in a conference room.

First, locate the person furthest away from you in the room. Yep, that person waaaay in the back. Now, how loud do you need to talk to be heard by that person? Adjust your volume to that level. If you’re a quiet talker, you might have to “use your outside voice” or you can try these tricks.

But wait, there’s more. Yep, you don’t want that person to simply hear you; you want to be able to influence them with the sound of your voice. So, adjust your volume up a little bit more. There you go. That’s it!

Now you’ll be able to be heard and influence everyone in the room.