Get the Little Things Right, (Maybe the Little Things are Big Things), and You’ll be a Better Speaker

In the last week, I’ve heard two good speakers. One of them was introducing a new facility in a major non-profit. The room was not built for speaking acoustics. But he adapted well, and did a very good job.

The other one was in a traditional setting — church. It was the Sunday sermon. It was the first time I heard her preach, and she was excellent.

What are the little things, and the big things, that of these speakers did right.

#1 – They each spoke loudly and clearly – pronouncing their words fully. In other words, that was no difficulty in understanding them. You won’t believe how many speakers mumble, making it very difficult to understand their words. This is a deal breaker. If people can not understand your words, you will not be an effective speaker. The one speaking in the “not built for speaking” room had a bigger challenge – and he raised his volume appropriately. (There was no microphone), Very effective.

#2 – They each spoke with vocal variety and verbal punch – no hint of a monotone. I heard another speaker recently. Every word sounded exactly the same. I was bored in an instant. (No, I won’t tell you where I heard this speaker). Monotone speaking = bored, tuned out audience.

Never speak in a monotone.

#3 – They each used their entire bodies effectively, with plenty of facial expressions and gestures. And, the gestures were not all the same. They turned to each part of the room with balanced-room eye contact. They each had great eye contact. They had energy in their presentations.

#4 – They each were well prepared, and had important and substantive things to say. Good speaking really does boil down to this: have something to say, and then say it very well. They each did this.

Little things – good, well-developed content; preparation; vocal variety and using your face and body effectively. These are the ingredients for effective speaking. Maybe these are not “little things” after all.

Oh, and one bit of “coaching.” In the non-profit facility, there were audience questions after the presentation. He did a good job answering the questions, but he did not do this – ALWAYS do this – repeat the question for your audience. An audience member-asked question is not always clearly heard. So, don’t forget to repeat the question for the entire audience.


Here are a few additional posts to help you think more fully about some of these speaking elements.

2 Ways to Guarantee a Failed Presentation

Don’t Mumble – Your Communication Tip of the Day (One Reason why Todd Bradley is not the CEO of HP)

and, this one has links to a number of additional posts on effective speaking

Here Are A Number of My Blog Posts Dealing with Speaking/Presentation and Communication Issues – (frequently updated)


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