Okanagan Panorama

Presentation Skills

Presentation Skills (47)

Having been in the Toastmasters Communication & Leadership Program for over 21 years, Rae is passionate about sharing information to help others develop their skills. 

This section hosts articles related to public speaking, writing artilces/webcopy & presentation skill development. 

Enjoy the articles and feel free to comment. Keep the discussion going.

I know it depends on the speed of reading, but an approximate number or range would be extremely helpful.

as originally answered on Quora.com

How fast do you talk?I think when you refer to characters, it would be better to think in terms of words.

You are writing the content for a speech, meaning that its purpose is to be spoken out loud.

North Americans speak at the rate of 125 to 150 words a minute. If you drop too far below 125, many of your audience will complain. If you boost your rate to 200 or so words per minute, you will likely lose some of your audience. If the speaking rate gets too fast, then its hard to think of a particular point, when the speaker has moved on to the next.

So in a two-minute speech, while theoretically, you would need 300 words maximum, based on the above theory, you also need to factor in pauses. Pauses can be built in for dramatic effect or to allow your audience to think about what you have said. If you are intending to be humorous, you need to factor in time for your audience to laugh and perhaps applaud. You need for them to finish before you move on.

I would suggest that you aim at 250 words for your two-minute speech. It goes by quickly!

as originally answered on Quora.com

What do you think are the best topics for an entertaining speech?I don’t believe that there is a definitive answer to this question.

The best entertaining topics would be determined by the situation and the needs and the interests of the specific group, at a specific point in time.

That might sound confusing! The speech has to be appropriate. For example, years ago at a Toastmasters club humour contest, I heard a young woman as part of her speech ask us “Do you remember when you lost your virginity?” She did and proceeded to tell us about it.

It was funny and definitely an entertaining story. Perhaps in a pub, sharing beers with others, but not in a Toastmasters club. There were family members in attendance. The club President was mortified.

If I was invited to deliver an entertaining speech to a group, I would want to know why the group was gathering in the first place and if there was a theme. Knowing the theme is a good starting point.

I believe entertaining speeches are difficult to craft. What one person finds entertaining, another may not. They may find it offensive. I also believe that for a speech to be entertaining, you the speaker need to be a character in the speech. You can tell a story third person but it adds to the entertainment if you play a role.

as originally answered on Quora.com

How important do you think speech communication is in the business world?Whether you are in the B to B (business to business) or the B to C (business to customer) sector, speech communication is quite important to the success or your business.

When we think of speech communication in regards to business, we likely think of having to deliver a prepared speech promoting our business. That is one example, but there are actually many more ways that being an effective public speaker can enhance your business.

At the basic level, we have our elevator pitches. I recommend you develop 30 second, 60 second and even ten minute versions of your self-introduction. These may be delivered to one person at a time, or as part of a larger group introduction. I have likely introduced myself hundreds of times. I was more confident and effective when I had prepared/practiced my pitch in advance.

I have seen countless numbers of people stumble over their self-introductions. We are told not to judge a book by its cover, yet we do it all the time. When we see somebody stumble over their self-introduction, we are left wondering about their credibility and whether they are worth getting to know better. On the other hand, when we hear an effective, enticing self-introduction, we are more likely to be curious or open to speaking to the individual at a later time.

as originally answered on Quora.com

How would you talk about yourself in the 3rd person?Interesting question! Of the hundreds of speeches and presentations that I have delivered, I don’t think that I have ever delivered a speech, in the third person, about myself. As for writing self-promotional copy in the third person, yes, lots of it.

I think one of the initial challenges in creating this type of speech is that it is an uncomfortable topic for many of us. Certainly it is a topic that we know more about than any other person in the world, but actually saying it out loud and sharing it with others is challenging. It relies on a certain amount of assertiveness and self-confidence.

Many of us have been told from an early age that we shouldn’t talk about ourselves because nobody likes a bragger. I quite often refer to the quote from Walt Whitman, American Cowboy Poet “If you done it, it ain’t bragging!”

How you create your speech and the content that you include, depends on what your purpose is. Are you speaking to inform, are you speaking to entertain, are you speaking to promote yourself, or is this merely an exercise to get you thinking out of the box?

as originally posted on Quora.com

I wouldn’t answer this question as an either or response. I would say yes to both and then some.

I have never taken a class on speech skills offered by a college. Nor have I ever seen one offered in my local college and/or university. There can be advantages to taking the course, as well as disadvantages.

I would expect that the program would only be as good as the instructor’s ability and passion for the subject. I have seen far too many adult educators that aren’t a good fit for what they are teaching. Classroom speaking training sessions often have a reputation of being rather stilted or stale. You would learn the mechanics, which is good, but you may be restricted in the advice and recommendations you get to be help you move to the next level.

as originally posted on Quora.com

I am involved in other things and don't know if I can find time.  

I think it would be a useful experience, but I am also trying to make nationals for biology Olympiad and do scientific research. Also I'm involved with violin/orchestra and 3 other clubs. The time management dilemma is killing me.


I’ve never liked questions that start with the word ‘should.’ You don’t need our permissionto make your choice.

All things being equal, there could be great value in participating in a speech & debate club. It will help you develop skills and self-confidence that will go a long way in helping you in your journey through life.

as originally answered on Quora.com

How can I overcome my fear of public speaking?Your question focuses on the fear that you and many people have about public speaking, not how to be a better public speaker. Yet, there lays the answer. As you become a better public speaker, your fear will reduce.

Many people use the acronym FEAR as follows: False Expectations Appearing Real. Fear is only in our minds. What one person fears, another may not. I work in psychiatry. A fellow worker named Mary was absolutely terrified of dealing with patients that got confrontational or aggressive. She would lock herself in the restroom until other staff had dealt with the situation.

Yet at the same time, Mary’s hobby was skydiving! I would certainly be fearful of jumping out of a perfectly good plane, but not Mary.

We aren’t born being afraid of public speaking, its something we develop. If we can become afraid, it is within us to become unafraid. The cure for fear is self-confidence.

So how do you overcome the fear of public speaking? It probably depends on how much time do you have to devote to overcoming the fear; if you are able to financially afford it and do you need to be unafraid by a certain date i.e. you have an upcoming event that you are required to speak at.

as originally posted on Quora.com

lWhat are humorous topics to give a speech on, answered by Rae StonehouseI don’t believe that there is a master list of topics that would be considered humorous. The challenge is that humour is not universal. What is funny in one part of the world may be offensive in another. Even among people that know each other, one person may find something funny, while another may not.

I try to use humour whenever I can in my presentations. My humour tends to be spontaneous. I find something funny to share in situations as they occur. You might consider it to be situational humour. I find it very difficult to craft a humorous speech.

A formula that I learned long ago for creating humorous speeches is as follows: PMF+T=H. Personal Misfortune + Time =Humour. These are stories about disasters in our lives, situations that were out of our control and were likely quite stressful at the time. As time passes, our memories evolve and we tend to forget the pain and other emotions that we experienced at the time. These are the stories that we often tell when our families get together, or perhaps at work over coffee. Sometimes we even start to embellish our story so that in time they become quite humorous and may even contain a grain of truth.

Some advise that I learned from a fellow Toastmaster many years ago was “Never let the truth get in the way of telling a good story!”

as originally answered on Quora.com

What is a non-technical speech as answered by Rae Stonehouse.As far as I know, a non technical presentation is one where you create it for delivery to a non technical audience.

It could be a presentation about a subject that is quite technical and only easily understood by someone with a background in that particular topic. The task is to take the technical content and recreate it for the so-called layman i.e. someone who doesn’t have a background in the particular subject.

Nothing prevents you from using modern technology such as a data projector, lap top and a PowerPoint presentation. However, they shouldn’t be the focus of your presentation, the content should be.

As originally answered on Quora.com

Its interesting that you refer to the art of public speaking. There really is art involved in being an effective, dynamic public speaker.

Like any other endeavour in life, one has to learn to walk before they run. The same thing applies to becoming an effective public speaker. You need to spend time with the fundamentals of public speaking. These include: speech organization; how to create a speech that people will want to listen to; how to paint pictures with words; developing your vocal variety, stage management and many more. All these lead to developing your self-confidence.

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