There are four ways that you could deliver a speech.

1) Memorize (even many professional actors sound stiff—how do you feel when you get the memorized spiel from a telemarketer?)

2) Read (don’t ever do this – this is a terrible insult to the audience. Yes the President does it—why do you think his speeches are always so boring?)

3) Impromptu (wing it – your points will not be clear, and they won’t be supported by good evidence)

4) Extemporaneous (speak conversationally from an outline—this is the only effective way to speak publicly.)

Other texts talk about rate, pitch, eye contact, vocalized pauses, volume, etc. etc. You can’t think about all that stuff at once—it’s like trying to swim underwater and fix a toaster at the same time.

Good delivery is transparent—it doesn’t call attention to itself. You want people to pay attention to what you’re saying, not the way you’re saying it. You probably won’t do anything distracting, but you won’t know until you try. A few students do say “like” every other word—they have to overcome that. Some speakers pace back and forth without pausing—they have to work on that. Watch this example of great delivery.

Follow these guidelines and your delivery will be great.

1) Speak to the audience not at them—make it feel like a conversation.

2) If you have a distracting habit, fix it.

3) Practice your presentation several times before you give it—the third or fourth time you have to talk about something, it will make much more sense than the first.