“You’re On! Effective Presentation Skills”


Created by;

Linda D. Knight

Training Section
December, 2005
Provided courtesy of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation

Title image shows woman in front of microphone and lists program topics: introduction, getting started, create your presentation, conquering stage fright, and presenting with power 

This presentation is meant to help you understand the basics of public speaking.  Please read through the information and, for optimal benefit, complete the exercises suggested throughout the presentation.  This presentation includes links to examples of well-known speeches; those using computers without audio capability or the required media players can access the full text of the speeches.

, you are invited to submit a 15-minute video. This will be viewed by one of the faculty involved in the NC Certified Training Specialist Course, who will provide one-on-one follow up with you by phone.  Tapes should be submitted to :
Jane Bozarth, NC OSP/HRD Group,
101 W Peace St, Raleigh, NC 27603 . Want to know more? Contact Jane at 919 733 2474 or by emailing her.
Be sure to include your contact information and phone number!




Research has shown that most people would rather die than give a speech. It’s important to understand that good speakers are not born, they are developed. Giving a speech is a skill, like driving a car. It can be learned. Of course, there are those who are naturally good at public speaking, but good public speakers know what skills are effective and necessary, and they know how to use those skills. This course is designed to give the student the skills needed to develop an effective speaking style in order to communicate in a sure and confident manner.


What is a public speech and what are the advantages? A speech is a formal communication design to inform, persuade, or entertain people. A speech must be understandable and relate to the audience and situation. A good speech will amaze or impress; it wins votes, hearts, good grades; it has the power to inspire and make a difference. Public speaking builds self-confidence, propagates views, broadens education and experience, opens doors of opportunity and it enhances your social life.


What is the difference between speech and a presentation? A speech is more of a formal communication usually given at banquets, formal meetings, and dinners. A presentation is less formal. Its purpose is to teach something to the audience. It is used in classes, business meetings, committees or groups.


Distressed woman in front of computerGETTING STARTED


Who is your audience? Begin with a reporter’s five questions of: Who, What, When, Where and Why?



Who will be in the audience? Will they be adults, teenagers, children, or a mixture? Will they be male or female? Sworn Law Enforcement or civilians? You will use different language and approach depending on your audience. Example: When speaking on “Time Management” your language, style and angle will be different when addressing an audience of Management vs. Support Staff. Things to consider when assessing your audience:




Group of smiling people of various ages and races*    Gender

*    Age

*    Occupation

*    Education

*    Religion

*    Race

*    Hobbies

*    Upbringing

*    Political Belief

*    Attitudes


The list can go on. It is up to you to find the similarities and gear your speech in a way that is most effective.


What are the issues or concerns of your audience? How can you address them and calm their fears?


When will you be speaking? In the morning when the audience is alert or after lunch when the audience is full and a little sleepy? If your speech is scheduled right after lunch, consider using a little humor or maybe an activity. Are there other speakers on the agenda? Who are the speakers? What are their topics? Are you first on the agenda or last? 


Where will you be speaking? In an auditorium, classroom, or outside? Consider how your audience is feeling. Are they comfortable in cushioned chairs in an auditorium or have they been sitting for the past hour on hard bleachers? Will you be speaking in a noisy restaurant or are there other events going on around you?


Why have they come? Are they there because they want to attend, or are they required to be there? What does the audience expect to gain? Information, views or to be entertained? To be an effective speaker you need to try to give them something of what they came for. When writing your speech, write it so you would want to hear it, if you were in the audience.


“Remember the audience is a mirror of the presenter, mood for mood, minute by minute. Do you want to know how you are doing? Look at your audience.


*    If you are funny, they will laugh. If you are not and try to be, they will be embarrassed for you.

*    If you are a nervous wreck, they will be uncomfortable.

*    If you are bored, they will deft with you-perhaps, dozing off along the way.

*    If you wish you were back at the office, they will wish the same.

*    If you are having a good time, they will smile and enjoy themselves.

*    If you are constantly changing moods, they will strive to ride the roller coaster with you.

*    If you like them, they will like you.

*    If you do not like them, it will show, and they will not be crazy about you.

*    If you tread upon their toes, they will respond ...but generally audiences are forgiving, they much rather be with you then against you.”(1)


Finally, what is the purpose of your presentation? Do you want to INFORM, PERSUADE, or TRAIN your audience?  Vary your approach accordingly!  






Thoughtful-looking womanYour topic may have already been chosen depending on the situation. If the topic is your choice, start thinking about it right away. Consider your audience. Say you are going to speak at a parent/teacher meeting at the local elementary school. Your audience will probably consist of parents, teachers, males, females, high school graduates, college graduates, but all are parents or work with children.


Four important points when deciding on a topic:





1. Talk about something you are interested in and have some expertise. You may have a good topic, one you think your audience will enjoy but if you are not personally interested, you will not do a good job and your audience will know.


2. Make sure your topic is not too general - Example: “Drugs in America” sounds like a good topic but you can talk forever on this alone. Narrow it down to specifics. If the topic is too broad, it will confuse you and your audience.


3. Your topic should not be too specific - You do not want to be too general but you do not want to be too specific either. If your topic is too narrow, you will not be able to develop it.


4. Your topic should be limited to one main idea - A topic with many main ideas will be impossible to develop effectively.







Recipe card showing woman at podiumOpening - The first thirty seconds of your speech are probably the most important. In that period of time you must grab the attention of the audience, and engage their interest in what you have to say. There are several effective opening techniques: you could start with a thought-provoking question, make an interesting or controversial statement, recite a relevant quotation or recount a joke. You could also use a historical reference, a personal reference or a combination. The choice is yours. Your opening should also indicate your subject (Tell them what you are going to talk about). The opening is about 10% of your speech.


Body - The body of the speech should prove statements made in the opening. It is the largest part of your speech, approximately 80%. The best way to lay out the body of your speech is by formulating a series of points. Organize your points so that each point will follow one another so each point builds upon the previous one. Prove each point before moving to the next. This will make your speech flow smooth and easy for the audience to follow. Be sure not to overwhelm your audience with countless points. You want you audience to remember your speech, so limit the main points to approximately three.


State the purpose, then demonstrate, or recapitulate.


Ways to demonstrate a point:

*    Appeal to reason, cite examples

*    quote statistics

*    quote an authority

*    draw a comparison

*    appeal to emotion


Closing - The closing is just as important as the opening. It should be clever, thought provoking, strong, clear and meaningful. This is your opportunity to sum it all up and send your audience with your speech on their mines. Think of it as completing a circle with the conclusion coming back around to connect with the opening.  It should be approximately 10% of your speech.


Conclusion techniques:


*    Summary - Tell them what you have told them.

*    Anecdote - If you told an anecdote, recall the characters and tell how things turned out for them or how they might have turned out differently it they had used your plan. Any story you use to close should bring together the main points of your speech.

*    Quotation - If you started with a quotation, refer to it as you end.

*    Question - If you started with a question, restate it and provide the answer.

*    Call for action - If you started with shocking facts, tell how the action you propose will alter those statistics. You could close by asking your audience to act.



To listen to some famous speeches, such as Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” and many others, click on the following website: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/ .


For entertainment: this website also contains great movie speeches, such as those from “A Few Good Men” and “Ladder 49". To view, click on http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speechbank.htm  then click on “movie speeches” in the blue menu box on the left side of the screen.




Think of an outline as a road map, a plan that tells where you want to go and how. An outline is a very important tool in writing your speech because it forces you to organize, it makes the speech flow smoothly, it makes it easier to tackle the topic, it reduces the possibility of confusion, it allows for routine practice, and it reduces stress. The process is similar to the basic speech structure. It has an introduction, body, and conclusion. It states the main points followed by supporting material.


          I.       Introduction

                   A.      Attention statement - Research shows that most people would rather die than give a speech. We have discovered that when given the right tools and information you can overcome this fear and deliver a good and effective speech in a sure and confident manner.


                   B.      Interest step - We will discuss:

                             1.      Planning

                             2.      Organizing

                             3.      Preparing

                             4.      Presenting


          II.      Body

                   A.      Point one - Plan your speech


                             1.      Assess your audience

                                      a.       Who, What, When, Where, & Why

                                      b.      Determine the common areas and tailor your speech

                             2.      Select your topic

                                      a.       Consider your audience

                                      b.      Topic selecting points


                   B.      Organize your speech


                             1.      The Basic Speech Recipe

                                      a.       Opening

                                      b.      Body

                                      c.       Closing


                             2.      Outline Development

                                      a.       Introduction

                                       b.      supplemental material


          III.     Conclusion - Now that we have discussed how to plan, organize, prepare and present a effective speech, it is up to you to develop and put those skills to use. Public speaking is a frightening prospect, but now that you have the right tools, you can overcome those fears and present a good, effective speech with confidence.



Projector screen showing types of visual aids such as slide projector, chart stand, and overhead projector




“A picture is worth a thousand words” That is why businesses and professional speakers use visual aids. They enhance, add impact and it helps the audience understand complex information. If not used properly visual aids can hurt a speech. 



Visual Aid Guidelines:


1.      Visual aids must support the speech. Do not show a picture for no reason. It will cause confusion.


2.      Visual aids must be relevant. The visual aid must help the audience understand the message.


3.      Whatever visual aid you decide to use, only allow the audience to see it when it is being discussed. If you leave it in view, the audience will continue to look at it while you are talking and even when you move on to something else.


4.      Keep it simple. Do not overload your audience with information.


5.      Talk to your audience not the visual aid.


6.      You should be comfortable using your visual aid. If you are using a new technology, know how to use it and practice using it.


Common types of visual aids


Graphs - Graphs are use to illustrate numerical or statistical information. They enable the audience to understand information that would be hard to communicate verbally.


Pie Charts - Use pie charts to illustrate parts of whole, statistical information, sale information or expenditures.


Line Graphs - Line graphs show a good representation when presenting highs & lows. They are most effective when demonstrating changes over a time-period.


          Bar Graphs - Bar graphs are most effective when comparing two or more sets of figures


(Note: When using graphs, do not combine dark colors). Use contrasting colors. Make sure your numbers or percentages are large enough for the audience to see and do not overload it with too much information.)


Charts - Charts are most effective when demonstrating a process. They usually contain graphics and words. You can use charts for almost any subject.


Pictures - Pictures are the most common visual aid. They include posters, drawings, paintings and photographs


Cartoons - Cartoons add humor or create satire. It is most effective when you are trying to add humor to a serious subject. Again do not use a cartoon just for the fun of it, make sure it relates to the topic.


          Film - Film adds dimension to a speech.


Handouts – Use handouts to give the audience something to refer to after the speech. Handing them out during your speech or presentation can cause problems. Once given out the focus moves to the handout and off you. The will look at and/or read it. You want your audience to stay focused on you, so consider handing them out after your speech.


Objects - Objects adds dimension. When using an object, be sure it is appropriate and large enough so the audience is able to see it. Your audience will become frustrated if they are not able to see what you are talking about and will stop listening.


Models - Models also adds dimension. They are most effective when demonstrating how something works.


          Special Speech Aids - Adds audio to a speech. They are most effective when sound is needed to aid  the audience. Example: If the topic is public speaking, samples of famous speeches;  if the topic is music, samples of the music in question.


Creating Visual Aids guidelines


Size - Be sure your visual aid is large enough for the audience to see. (FYI: ½" lettering can be seen up to 10 feet away and 1" up to 30' away).


Lettering Styles - Keep it simple. Large block print is best. Cursive, italic, calligraphy, script are pretty but are difficult to read at a distance.


Color - Be sure to use contrasting colors. If you put dark colors on a dark background or a light color on a light background, the colors will blend and distort the visual. Also, red is considered a power color, an attention getter. Use the color red when you want to point out the most important or urgent information.


Methods of Presentation


Tripod (Easel) Presentation - A good method to use when displaying a graph, posters, charts, pictures etc.


          Overhead Projectors – This is a good method when presenting to a larger audience. Like the tripod, use overhead projectors to show charts, graphs and even pictures. The Over Head Projector makes eye contact easy because the speaker can glance at the actual transparency instead of having to turn around. The problem with Over Head Projectors is the risk of the lamp bulb burning out, so always have a spare.


Slide Presentations - Slides presents the same information as an Overhead Projector with a big emphasis on photographs. This is a good method when talking about a trip or geographical location or culture. Again, keep a spare lamp bulb handy.


Video - video adds sound and movement to your speech/presentation. Video allows you to show film clips without a film projector and you can adjust it to almost any size with little light reduction in the   room.


Computer Presentations - Most of the above methods have been replace with computer presentations (PowerPoint/ Macromedia Flash) Computers can easily create impressive graphics, and sound. It will also allow you to project video onto a screen. Technology is great but be sure that it supports your speech. Do not let the technology become your speech. If the audience’s focus is on the fantasy animation, they will miss the point of your speech.


Summary: When using charts, graphs, posters, overhead projectors or PowerPoint, be sure that you do not overcrowd with information, make sure it looks professional, the lettering is easily read, use contrasting colors and turn projector off or to black screen when not in use. Also with all technology, know how to use the equipment and have a backup plan in case of technical problems. (I.e. a copy of the PowerPoint on Overhead Transparencies)






Harried woman with handful of papers 

















Do you have "Stage Fright?" To find out, take the "Stage Fight" quiz below.


When you have to speak in public:



Your hands or legs shake



Your knees give way



You feel sick



You experience a rapid heart beat



Your stomach hurts



You have a hard time breathing



Your voice cracks or shakes



Your mouth becomes dry



You begin to sweat



You become dizzy



You experience chest pains



You begin to stutter



You start to twitch



You wish you were dead



You forget what you wanted to say



You freeze up




If you answered “yes” to:


10 or more

 You really need to read the information below


 Sit back and have a snack while you read the information below


 This will not hurt a bit


 Start booking those speaking engagements!


Reference: Dr. Welch—Oral Communication, Hampton University, VA












Prescription pad and penNerve prescription:


1.      Admit you have stage fight. Admitting it is half the battle. Understand that all public speakers are nervous and if they say      they are not, this is someone who cannot be trusted. Draw from the energy and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm. A little anxiety is good. It will improve recall, raise energy levels and make for a more focused, dynamic speech.


2.      Arrive early or arrange in advance to go to the event location. This will enable you to become familiar with the setting. If possible, see if you can make changes that will aid you in your performance, such as arrangement of the table & chairs, microphone, podium, visual aids, lighting, room temperature etc.


3.      Practice, Practice, Practice - Practice in front of family &/or friends, video tape it and review or talk in the mirror. Give speeches often. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. Join a Toastmaster club or visit their website: http://www.angela-victor.com/toast/  (Raleigh chapter).


4.      Practice using your visual aids. Know your equipment.


5.      Prepare - If you know your material and believe in it you will be more confident and it will show in your speech.


6.      Meet and Greet your audience before the program begins. Familiarity breeds comfort.


7.      Take a deep breath (from the diaphragm and count to ten. In through your nose and out through your mouth. Yawning also fills your lung with oxygen and relaxes your throat.


8.      Keep a photo of your child, or whatever makes you smile, and taped to your notes. (Glance as needed)


9.      Make eye contact with friendly and/or a familiar face, as you become comfortable move on to another. If you begin to feel the anxiety, return to the face that you started with.


10.    Avoid caffeine the day before and the day of your speech.


11.    Visualize success. Picture in your mine everyone smiling and enjoying your speech. You are confident, your voice loud, clear and assured.


12.    Leave your notes on the podium. If your hands are shaking there is a chance, you will drop them.


13.    Exercise is a good way to burn off nervous energy. Just before you speak, go out by yourself to an empty room and do a few jumping jacks or run in place. Just enough to release the extra nervous energy not too much that you tire yourself out or become sweaty.


14.    Take care of yourself. Eat well and get plenty of rest.


15.    Don’t eat a heavy meal just before you speak.


16.    Drink plenty of water and remember to go to the rest room before your speech.


17.    Relax - If you are extremely nervous focus on the part of the body that is most nervous. Such as your stomach, hand, knees, legs. Working slowly, carefully tighten the muscles in that part of your body. Hold them a second, them release. Repeat two or three times until relax.


18.    Forge a link between the audience and yourself. The more complete your audience analysis, the more likely that you are to see them as friendly, non-threatening.                        


Stage Fright Symptoms and Solutions


Dry Mouth - Sip some water, speak slowly or try chewing gum. Remember to discard the gum before you speak.


Trouble Breathing - Take a deep controlled breath. Breathing exercises will help calm your nerves, which will alleviate shaking hands, shaking feet, a rapid heartbeat, chest pains and dizziness.


Sweating - Try to ignore it. Unless you form a puddle around your feet, the audience will not notice.


Stuttering - Deliberately slow down your rate of speech.


Stomach churn &/or rumble - Try to ignore it.








Pie chart showing believability as 55% nonverbal, 38% tone of voice, and 7% words



Vocal Characteristics



Pitch refers to the highness or lowness of your voice. We tend to speak in one major area. Lower your pitch if it is usually high.





(EXERCISE) Pitch is what we use to assign meaning. (“It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It”) Say the following sentences aloud. Use the following intended meanings: “Shock,” “Surprise,” “Angry,” “Sad.” :

“I can’t believe you did that!    I can’t believe you did that.   I can’t believe you did that.”





Volume is the loudness of your voice. Volume is created by forcing air through your vocal cord by using your abdominal muscles. You want to speak loud enough that everyone in your audience can hear you. Of course, your volume will change depending on the size of your audience and the setting. “Just remember that a microphone is not a replacement for vocal volume.” You do not want to yell at your audience so strive for a solid, pleasing volume.





(EXERCISE) Recite the first two paragraphs of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. Speak as if you’re talking to someone sitting in your living room with you. Then say it again as if you were in the living room talking to someone in the kitchen. Now try it by standing at your front door and want the person at the mailbox to hear you. Notice the extra air used to project the words.





                   “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”



Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.




Rate is the speed at which you speak. Most people speak between 130 and 190 words per minute. You want to speak at a rate that the audience will be able to understand but not so slow that they want to finish your sentences for them.



          (EXERCISE) Use a stopwatch, or a clock/watch with a second hand for this exercise. Read out loud        the paragraph below in your normal speaking voice.


“Like other space probes, such as Viking I and Mariner 10, the Voyager mission focused on information gathering. Voyager consisted of a large satellite dish and magnetic field that surrounds planets. Other instruments that could gather information, such as wind speeds on the planet surfaces and atmospheric temperatures, were also included.”


If you read this paragraph in 17 to 21 seconds, then you’re talking at a normal speaking rate. If your time was less than 17 seconds, you are speaking too quickly and your audience will not be able to understand or keep up with you. If your time was more than 21 seconds, then you’re speaking too slowly. You will bore your audience—so practice, practice, practice!



Quality is the sound of your voice, tone. Your tongue, palate, teeth and lips create your tone. This effects how you say your words, how you pronounce them and the overall sound of you voice. You want to work toward a balanced, pleasing voice.



Articulation refers to the actual sound and pronunciation of the words you use. You should speak clearly and carefully pronouncing every sound in each word.


                   Commonly mispronounced words:


                   “Often” is pronounced, “Ofen”. There is not “t” sound.


                   “The’ is pronounced “Thuh” not “thee”.


“Congratulations” is pronounced, “Con - grat - you - lations” not “Con - grad u - lations.


                   “Get” is pronounced, “g -et” not “git”.


                   “Picture” is pronounced, “pic - ture” not “pic-sure” or “pitcher”


                   “February” is pronounced, “Feb - ru - ary,” not “Feb - u - ary”.


                   “Library” is pronounced, “li- brary” not “Li - berry”


                   “Probably” is pronounced, “Pro - bab - ly” not “Prob - ly”


                   “Family” is pronounced, “Fam - i - ly” not “Fam - ly”.


                   “Ask” or” Asked” is pronounced, “As -k” not “ax” or “axed”


                   “Adult” is pronounced, “uh-Duhlt” not “AD-uhlt”


                   “Evening” is pronounced, “EEV-nihng” - (two syllables)


                   “Lightning” is pronounced, “LYT-nihng” not “LYT-ehn-ihng”


                   “Umbrella’ is pronounced, “uhm-BREHL-uh” not “UHM-bur-ehl-uh”


(EXERCISE) This is just a few problems words there are many more. Now let practice. Say the paragraph below aloud a few times and concentrate on your articulation. You can have someone listen to you, video tape yourself or record it.


“One of the greatest joys in life is the birth of a child. This new addition to one’s family is often a great turning point. After all of the congratulation on the new baby - and the hundreds of pictures - the work truly begins. Child rearing is probably on of the most important jobs on earth. Most libraries contain many volumes of instruction on raising children and even the government promotes many important programs. Just remember to get the best advice possible and ask questions frequently.”    


          Common Vocal Problems (Things to avoid)


Monotone Voice - A monotone voice occurs when a speaker uses the same pitch, volume, and rate for every word, sentence, or paragraph of the speech. Use expression, vocal variety, in your voice. In normal communication our pitch, rate, qualities will change.


          Repeating vocal pattern - This occurs when every sentence sounds the same because of the rate and pitch. This produces a singsong effect.


Filler words - These words or sounds fill time as the speaker is thinking or preparing to move to a new idea. Example: “ummm,” “OK”, “all right,” “like,” “you know,” and don’t forget   “aaaaaah” (Something to help you break the habit of using filler words: Practice your speech in front of someone, friend &/or family. Have them to say your name aloud every time you use one of             the filler words.)


Non-Verbal Delivery – Non-Verbal communication is cultural, situational and more powerful than verbal communication.


Cultural – Non-Verbal communication varies from family to family, neighborhood to neighborhood, state to state and so on. A hand gesture can mean on thing in one cultural and something entirely different in another. Example: using your index figure to motion for someone to come to you is on offenses gesture in the Hispanic culture.


Situational – Non-Verbal communication depends on the situation. For example: A person crying at a funeral shows sadness where as at a wedding it can mean happy.


                   “Action Speaks Louder Than Words” - Example:


Body Language is any communication created by your body. For example: eye contact, gestures, expression, posture, appearance etc.

Cartoon showing that emotions such as anger or convusion can be conveyed by eyes and facial expressions                            

Eye Contact - “Live Eyes Are the Windows to the Soul” Eye contact is the most important Non Verbal skill. They communicate messages, example: Have you ever seen a child stop misbehaving because his/her parent gave them that LOOK? Or you knew the answer to your question just because of the look in the other person’s eye? The eyes can tell you if a person is happy, sad, scared, in pain, etc.





Cartoon showing that emotions such as anger or convusion can be conveyed by eyes and facial expressionsWhen giving your speech, make eye contact with the person you are most familiar with for  three seconds, then move on the another person. Try to have eye contact with a number of people in the audience and every occasionally glance at the entire audience. You want to make your audience feel involved. If you become uneasy, return to the person that made you feel the most comfortable.


                   Facial Expressions - Just like the eyes, facial expressions  communicate messages and emotions. They enhance verbal  communication. For example when you are excited, your facial expression will enhance the emotion. Remember non-verbal communication is more powerful than verbal communication.


                   Facial Expression Rule: Be yourself and don’t overdo it.



Think about what you are saying. In other words, do not be to concern with your facial expressions. If you believe in what you are saying, your facial expressions will come naturally.

Smile before you begin speaking. A smile will make you audience feel good about you and will help you speak with confidence and ease.


Cartoon hand making the OK signHand Gestures - Hand gestures can enhance a speech by providing symbols that replace a verbal message, such as the “peace” sign or the symbol for “O.K.” Be careful when using hand gestures because meanings vary in different cultures. Example: the “OK” symbol is considered a vulgar gesture in some countries. Hand gestures emphasize words and help you not to appear stiff. When you are not making gestures, your hands should fall naturally at your side.  Do not put them behind your back, in your pockets or hold them in front of you. This will   draw the audience’s attention to your hands and away from your message.


Posture - Stand straight. Slouching or leaning can cause you to loose credibility.  Look like you are happy to be there. Good posture communicates confidence. It also enables you to produce good sounds. Just a tilt of your head to the side or bending forward can put a minor strain on your throat. Before your speech always sit up straight and look calm. When it is time to present your speech, walk with confidence. Keep you head up and your posture formal.  When giving your speech, imagine you are wearing a heavy coat that hangs from your shoulders. Relax the shoulders to the weight of the coat. Keep your feet evenly spaced and do not lock your knees.


Appearance - “Look the Part”.  You as a speaker should dress in a manner that will effectively communicate your message. Dress appropriately for the occasion, not too dressy or too casual. There are times when you will not have a choice, such as at a black tie dinner. When you have a choice, wear something comfortable, familiar   and something that makes you feel good. This may not be a good time to wear a brand new outfit. Your appearance can create a positive first impression, and make you more credible and believable. This is important when trying to communicate your message.

Photos of neatly, professionally dressed man and woman                  

“General Guidelines:


*    Always look professional


*    Always wear conservative clothing or styles


*    Consider wearing a red accessory



General Rules for Women:


*    Wear a dress or a business suit.

*    Avoid sleeveless or strapless apparel

*    Dresses should be knee length, basic style, dark in color and professional

*    Accessories should complement your outfit, basic style & color. You should consider using something that is red in color. Red is an attention getting color so something red will draw the audience’s attention to you. Red is a power color.

*    Jewelry should be simple and kept at a minimum. Wear only one ring per hand. Excessive jewelry will distract your audience and can cause lighting problems.

*    Shoes should complement your outfit, be conservative, comfortable and stable.

*    Hairstyles and makeup should be conservative. Avoid unusual colors, excess or extremes. Eye-makeup draws attention to your eyes. Just keep it subtle.

*    Nail - Avoid extreme lengths, unusual colors, and designs (Manicured nails).

*    Do not wear hats.


General Rules for Men:


*    Wear a suit or slacks and a coat. Jackets add authority. Wear over a neatly     pressed shirt.

*    Use conservative colors and avoid unusual styles

*    Wear dress shoes and socks in a coordinating color, which is usually dark. (“Watch out for static cling”)

*    Ties are the most powerful part of your outfit. It is one of the first things the audience will notice. Avoid ties with writing on them, ties with pictures on them, ties with extremely bright colors, and ties with extreme patterns. Your tie should be conservative in style and non-constricting. You should consider using a red tie or one that has a red background. Again, red is a attention getting color so a red tie will bring the audience’s eye to your face.

*    Jewelry should be simple. You should only wear one ring per hand and a conservative style watch. Some people consider earrings on males as unprofessional so your best move is not wear earrings.

*    Hairstyle should be conservative. If you have, longhairs pull it, back.

*    Facial hair is acceptable; just make sure it is well groomed.

*    Do not wear hats.


Remember you want to give a good first impression so do not wear anything that will cause your audience to question your professionalism or credibility.           




Woman with pointer in front of chart stand



1.      Stay in tune with your audience. Be aware of any signs that your audience is lost, confused or have objections. If there are signs of anger or tension stop and ask for questions.”


2.      Keep your audience interested by using appropriate humor when possible. Avoid inappropriate or unfunny humor.


3.      You should be respectful of the time allotted. Finish your speech before your audience does.


4.      Don’t overload your audience with too much information. If there is a lot, you need to cover, present them in parts by using activities.


5.      Standing, walking, or moving about with appropriate hand gestures &/or facial expressions are preferred to sitting down or standing still with your head down reading your speech.


6.      Enhance your speech with appropriate audio-visual aids or props.


7.      Know your equipment and be sure it is set up and in good working order prior to your presentation.


8.      In the event of technical difficulties have a back up available.


9.      Check out the location ahead of time in order to ensure arrangements for your visual aids, lighting, sound system, layout, temperature, etc.


10.    When using PowerPoint as a visual aid, do not over-dazzle with excessive use of animation, sound clips or gaudy colors.


11.    Do not put lengthy documents in tiny print on an overhead projector or PowerPoint slide and then read it to your audience.


12.    Avoid reading your speech. Think and speak in outline form.


13.    Believe what you are saying and speak with conviction. Do not mumble.


14.    Be confident. Your poise & sense of confidence will enable you to communicate more effectively.


15.    If you make a mistake, correct it and move on.


16.    Use the 3-second method when maintaining sincere eye contact. In order words, look straight into the person eyes for three seconds than move to another. Try to have eye contact with a number of people in the audience and every once in a while look at the entire audience. You want to make your entire audience feel involved.


17.    Speak to your audience not the visual aid.


18.    Do not rush though your speech. Pause and allow you and your audience a chance to reflect and think.


19.    Be yourself. Your audience will forgive your nervousness. They want you to do well.


20.    Don’t apologize constantly. It will make you look incompetent and weak. If there is a problem, fix it, work around it or move on. There is no need to point out problems or mistakes. Your audience might not have even notice.

Woman breaking through tape at race finish lineCONCLUSION                      

Public speaking is a frightening prospect to most people, but with the right tools, you can overcome those fears. This training session has given you the tools to overcome your fears – NOW, let us put those tools to work!



IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK ABOUT YOUR OWN PRESENTATION SKILLS, you are invited to submit a 15-minute video. This will be viewed by one of the faculty involved in the NC Certified Training Specialist Course, who will provide one-on-one follow up with you by phone. 


Tapes should be submitted to
Jane Bozarth, NC OSP/HRD Group, 101 W Peace St, Raleigh, NC 27603
Be sure to include your contact information and phone number!



Submit a 15-minute video tape of yourself giving a biographical speech. On whom, you ask? Yourself!


COURSE COMPLETION: Please click here to access the completion form






Simmons, Curt. “Public Speaking Made Simple”. Double Day, a division of Bantam DoubleDay Dell Publishing Group, Inc. 1996


Schultz, Don E. Hoff, Ron. Revised Edition. “I Can See You Naked”. A Universal Press Syndicate Company Kansas City,1994


Ryan, Margaret. “How To Give A Speech”. 1994