Effective Public Speaking
Effective Public Speaking

Effective Public Speaking

Lead Author(s): George Griffin and Contributors

Student Price: Contact us to learn more

Top Hat Intro Course - Designed to teach the skills and build the confidence your students need to become effective public speakers.

What is a Top Hat Textbook?

Top Hat has reimagined the textbook – one that is designed to improve student readership through interactivity, is updated by a community of collaborating professors with the newest information, and accessed online from anywhere, at anytime.

  • Top Hat Textbooks are built full of embedded videos, interactive timelines, charts, graphs, and video lessons from the authors themselves
  • High-quality and affordable, at a significant fraction in cost vs traditional publisher textbooks

Key features in this textbook

Effective Public Speaking gives students the confidence and competence in preparing and presenting speeches with real student videos, a comprehensive glossary, up to five in-class activities per chapter, and a full chapter on controlling speech anxiety.
Using Bongo for Top Hat, students can practice their oral communication skills and get feedback from instructors or their peers.
Built-in assessment questions embedded throughout chapters so students can read a little, do a little, and test themselves to see what they know!

Comparison of Public Speaking Textbooks

Consider adding Top Hat’s Effective Public Speaking textbook to your upcoming course. We’ve put together a textbook comparison to make it easy for you in your upcoming evaluation.

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed


Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition


Average price of textbook across most common format

Up to 40-60% more affordable

Lifetime access on any device


Hardcover print text only


Hardcover print text only


Hardcover print text only

Always up-to-date content, constantly revised by community of professors

Content meets standard for Introduction to Anatomy & Physiology course, and is updated with the latest content

In-Book Interactivity

Includes embedded multi-media files and integrated software to enhance visual presentation of concepts directly in textbook

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost


Ability to revise, adjust and adapt content to meet needs of course and instructor

All-in-one Platform

Access to additional questions, test banks, and slides available within one platform


Average price of textbook across most common format

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

Up to 40-60% more affordable

Lifetime access on any device


Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition


Hardcover print text only


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition


Hardcover print text only


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition


Hardcover print text only

Always up-to-date content, constantly revised by community of professors

Constantly revised and updated by a community of professors with the latest content

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed


Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

In-book Interactivity

Includes embedded multi-media files and integrated software to enhance visual presentation of concepts directly in textbook

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed


Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition


Ability to revise, adjust and adapt content to meet needs of course and instructor

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed


Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

All-in-one Platform

Access to additional questions, test banks, and slides available within one platform

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed


Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition


Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

About this textbook

Lead Authors

George Griffin, Professor of SpeechKeiser University

George Griffin earned his degrees at the University of West Florida and Auburn University. He has been teaching college, business seminars and workshops for over 30 years, while still doing public speaking engagements for non-profit organizations. Currently, he is serving as the Professor of Speech at Keiser University, Orlando, and as Adjunct Professor at Stetson University. George is also the author of “STAGE FRIGHT! A Student-Friendly Guide to Managing the Jitters.”

Contributing Authors

Wade CorneliusNew Mexico State University

Kathryn DederichsUniversity of St. Thomas

Morgan GintherInstructional Designer at Texas A & M

Luke GreenSt. Cloud Technical and Community College

María Elena BermúdezGeorgia State University

Daryle NaganoEl Camino College

Wendy YarberryFlorida State College at Jacksonville

Allen DavisIndiana University

Jasmine RobertsOhio State University

Krista MacDonaldDoña Ana Community College

Explore this textbook

Read the fully unlocked textbook below, and if you’re interested in learning more, get in touch to see how you can use this textbook in your course today.

Chapter 11:  Delivery

Martin Luther King Jr. giving his
Martin Martin Luther King Jr. was a brilliant orator. Not only did he have an important message, but he delivered it effectively. [1]​

"It’s not what you say that matters, but the manner in which you say it; there lies the secret of the ages."
-William Carlos Williams

Table of Contents

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter you will be able to:

  • Explain the importance of delivery preparation
  • Identify and describe the four types of speech delivery
  • Identify and describe seven types of verbal delivery
  • Identify and describe six types of nonverbal skills
  • Become familiar with seven approaches for practicing your speech


Noah was excited. He recently found out his county’s historic society was featuring a guest speaker at their next event. The speaker was an expert on the history of America’s railroads: how they were built, maintained, and operated. Throughout his life Noah had an interest in trains and was looking forward to hearing what this expert had to say.

On the day of the event, a mid-sized crowd gathered into the preserved cafeteria of the historic train depot, a modest building that still maintained its original wooden floors, windows, and age-old heating and cooling. It was a cold fall morning, but the chill in the auditorium made it feel colder than the weather outside. Although he was early, there were others already waiting to fill the auditorium and Noah had to settle for a seat near the back of the room. He was a bit disappointed because he knew from prior events that the acoustics were bad and it would be difficult to hear clearly from where he was seated.

After a brief welcome and introductory remarks from the president of the historic society, the speaker was introduced and given the stage. He was an older gentleman, and Noah was concerned that he may not speak loud enough to project his voice or to articulate his words clearly.

Noah was surprised when the speaker stepped down from the stage and walked closer to his audience. “I’ve been in enough museums in my life,” the speaker stated, “to know that the sound of my voice and my closer proximity to the crowd makes it easier for everyone to hear what I’m saying, rather than if I stand on stage and use a microphone that echoes incessantly!”

Noah was pleased to find the speech both informative and engaging. Throughout the presentation the speaker moved around the front of the room and even halfway down the aisle. As he did, he made eye contact with attendees on both sides of the aisle. At times he spoke loudly and other times in a softer, gentler tone. Noah often felt the speaker was talking directly to him.

The presentation concluded within an hour, but to Noah, it felt much quicker than that. At the end of the speech, Noah felt energetic and excited about what he had just learned…he even forgot about how cold it was in the room!

Consider a time you had a similar experience as Noah. Perhaps it was a political speech, a class lecture, or a really good conversation with a friend. Whatever the occasion, you felt a personal connection with what you were hearing. This is what good communicators do. As a student of public speaking, you undertake such a task in your own presentations. Recall how Chapter 7 emphasized the fact that public speaking requires an audience-centered approach. It is up to you to inform, persuade, and entertain the audience you’re addressing.

This may feel overwhelming and unachievable. After all, you may only be studying public speaking as a degree requirement, or perhaps you just don’t feel you have what it takes to engage an audience in the manner described above. Therefore, you feel that your only goal in public speaking is to make it through class presentations and then avoid, at all costs, any situations that might put you in the spotlight to present again.

This is not a good approach for your confidence or your career. Although you may, at this moment, lack the ability to engage an audience, you can develop this skill with time and practice. The likelihood that you will be called upon to speak again is high and it’s important to continually refine your delivery in order to ensure the maximum impact on your listeners. Selling yourself in a job interview where there is a group of interviewers requires public speaking skills. This is also the case for presentations at work, delivering a eulogy at a funeral, giving a wedding toast, speaking on about a cause you care about to your school board or local government, or simply being called upon to speak at unexpected times throughout your personal and professional career.

You don’t have to dread such moments worrying that your audience will find your presentation boring. There are ways to prepare yourself in order to maximize your effect on your listeners while minimizing your apprehension. Even if you already feel comfortable about public speaking, there is always room for improvement to refine your skills further to become a truly great speaker. Similar to the opening narrative, there are certain skills that make public speakers effective. This chapter will make you aware of these skills and teach you how to practice them. If you incorporate these suggestions into your presentations, you will be well on your way to refining your skills and making your own impact on the many audiences that await you in your personal and professional career.

Why is Delivery So Important?

You may be wondering why delivery is such an important aspect of public speaking. Is it really as important as the words of a speech? In one word: yes! It’s been said that, “How you say something is as important as what you say.” There are three great benefits from practicing and incorporating good delivery into your speaking.

Good Delivery Engages Your Audience

An audience clapping in a dark theatre.
The audience isn't your enemy, but they are a barometer for your delivery. [2]​

Emotions are contagious and generally the emotions of a leader are those that set the tone. If a child is frightened from a bad storm, they look to the parent for comfort; if a company is going through a stressful period, employees look to the supervisor to convey a sense of calm and unity. Similarly, an audience looks to the speaker to determine how they should feel about the topic being presented. 

Different topics call for different emotion. For an informative topic the speaker should have a conversational style. For a persuasive topic the speaker should be more dynamic and forceful. Your delivery should indicate to an audience what their emotional feeling should be as they listen to you speak. By conveying emotion well, audiences will feel more connected with your words and engage in your speech in the manner that you emphasized.

Good Delivery Adds to Your Credibility

Recall sitting through a class presentation where the speaker did not prepare well. You probably wondered how important the topic really was when the speaker was monotone, stared at the speech notes, and offered poor pronunciation of the names and technical terms mentioned in the presentation.

Consider a similar scenario, where a job candidate mispronounced the company name of the business he was applying to work for, was mistaken on several key factors of the company’s recent history, and dressed casually for the interview.

In both the class presentation and the job interview, simple observation makes it abundantly clear the speaker’s credibility was hurt by their lack of preparation and confidence. Your words mean very little if you have poor delivery. Remember, when your verbal and nonverbal communications disagree, your audience will often believe the nonverbal over the verbal. You will learn more about this in Chapter 15. For example, if you said to one of your friends, “I hope it’s not too much trouble if I ask to borrow a pen from you?” and your classmate responds by rolling their eyes and saying, “It’s no trouble at all.” The fact that their body language did not match their words caused you to doubt their sincerity. Similarly, when you tell your audience your topic is very important and your delivery style doesn’t show that you took the time to be well prepared, or that you lack confidence, your audience will doubt the importance of your speech. And that, of course, damages your credibility.

Good Delivery Makes Your Speech Memorable

Chances are you’ve seen your favorite movie more than once. There are lines from these movies that you have memorized and you are still emotionally moved by them time and time again. If it is a drama, the power of the line is brought to life through its delivery. If it is a comedy, the humor is enhanced a great deal by how the actor delivers their lines. We oftentimes don't just recall the lines, but also the emotion we felt was being expressed through the actor’s delivery. This is the same feeling we get when listening to an engaging speaker. Good delivery greatly assists in making this impression on your audience. It provides a means to draw them into your message and towards the emotion you want them to feel in a way that allows you to connect with them personally. That strong, effective delivery style will help the audience remember your speech long after they hear it.


Why is it important to have an audience-centered approach for your presentation?

Types of Speech Delivery

PM Benjamin Netanyahu giving a speech.
Like tone and subject matter, your delivery should be appropriate to your audience. [3]​

On an interpersonal level we speak to people in different ways: text messaging, phone call, email, and face-to-face conversations. We choose the channel of communication that is most appropriate for the situation. Public speaking is similar in respect to the type of delivery we choose to address an audience. There are four basic delivery styles to choose from for any speech you will ever give. Knowing the different strengths and weaknesses of each delivery style will assist in your ability to achieve your speaking goals.

1. Manuscript Reading: This approach to public speaking consists of reading a speech from a written manuscript. However, it is not just a matter of looking at the document and reading it word-for-word. It is necessary to engage the audience with eye contact, pauses, gestures, and voice intonation. Manuscript reading generally occurs during a formal presentation such as the president’s State of the Union address, or perhaps a research presentation at a business convention. Have you ever acted on stage in a play? During rehearsal, you had to read the script word-for-word to make sure you got every line right. But when it was time to actually perform the play, the scripts were put away because you had gone to the next level – you’d memorized your lines. In the video below, observe the speaker’s use of a manuscript as they deliver their speech:

Click here to see the script for Video 11.01.

2. Memorized: This type of speech involves remembering exactly what you are going to say word-for-word without glancing at any notes or outlines. This allows you to speak directly to an audience without breaking the connection to remember the next part of your presentation. Poets usually take this approach when reciting poetry, marketers take a similar approach when showcasing a product. There are individuals that may choose to memorize a speech when delivering an informative or persuasive presentation; however, it can be quite challenging as you must practice many times over to ensure you remember the words in your presentation and maintain your fluidity. If you forget your lines it can increase your anxiety because you have no “safety net,” no notes to fall back on. Obviously this would hinder your performance, and hurt your credibility with the audience. In the video below, observe how the speaker recites from memory without the use of notecards:

Click here to see the script for Video 11.02.

A casual party go-er giving a speech to attendees.
Not all public speaking opportunities will be meticulously planned out. There are still things you can do to "prepare" for them. [4]​

3. Impromptu: There will be times when you are called on to speak unexpectedly. This may happen at a formal dinner, an office meeting, or a special occasion such as a wedding. Such unexpected requests are known as impromptu speaking. Impromptu speeches are at the exact opposite end of the spectrum compared to a manuscript or a memorized speech, as this speech has no preparation at all; it is pure freestyle. When you are called to speak at the spur-of-the-moment, it can be very intimidating. You may find your anxiety increasing and your mind racing. On the plus side, though, you are now totally free to react and adapt to your audience, which you couldn’t do with a manuscript or memorized presentation.

At such times you can still formulate an approach to get through the moment. The key is to mentally outline a couple of points to make and then remember and follow those points as you speak.

4. Extemporaneous: Extemporaneous speaking is the preferred approach for public speaking. This involves speaking to your audience from an outline. The presentation is rehearsed; however, it is not memorized word-for-word. You should be able to glance at your outline and easily remember what your next point will be. The extemporaneous speech is essentially a hybrid approach to public speaking, combining all the best elements of manuscript, memorized and impromptu. You took the time to research, structure and organize, you practiced enough to become fluid and confident, but you left room to add or delete information that allows you to adapt to your audience. In the video below, observe how the speaker briefly glances at her outline, as she deliver her speech:

Click here to see the script for Video 11.03.

Four Types of Delivery: Manuscript. Memorized. Impromptu. Extemporaneous.

Vocal Delivery Skills

There is a certain set of skills that are necessary in delivering a quality speech. Such a skill set includes both verbal and nonverbal components. In this section we will briefly examine both.


Man yelling into a megaphone.
Volume is a vital part of speech delivery. [5]​

This refers to the strength of your voice and how loudly or softly you speak. At times, students new to public speaking feel very timid when addressing an audience. Their intimidation comes across in their inability to speak loudly enough to be heard clearly. This puts the audience in a position where they must make an extra effort to actively listen. As a result, the audience will quickly lose interest and your lack of confidence will hurt your credibility.

It is important to speak loudly enough to be heard by everyone in the room, but not so loudly that those closest to you are overwhelmed by a booming voice. A good way to adjust your volume is to practice in the room you will speak in and have a few classmates or friends sit in different parts of the room to offer feedback. If you don’t have that opportunity, when you begin your speech aim your opening lines to the person in the room sitting furthest from you – If they can hear you clearly, everyone can hear you clearly.

You may also monitor the body language of your audience as you speak: confused looks, leaning forward with their heads turned, or the front row leaning back to put some distance between you and them may signal you are speaking too softly or too loudly.

Back view of a man speaking in front of a large crowd under a domed tent.
There is a difference between projection and volume. You don't have to be loud to project well. [6]​


This vocal skill may appear to be the same as volume. However, volume deals with the level of your voice and projection describes the way a speaker carries their voice so that audience members in all parts of a given room can hear it. Think about prior experiences you may have had sitting in an audience and the person speaking did not have a microphone, yet you were still able to hear them clearly.

Singers are trained to project their voices and carry musical notes for lengths of time. They do this by controlling their breathing and being mindful of their posture. You can follow this same approach standing up straight, taking a deep breath and then exhaling from your diaphragm (not your chest) while you speak. It takes some practice, but mastering this skill can help reduce your anxiety (through deliberate breathing) and increase audience engagement by ensuring all your listeners are able to hear you. As you learned in Chapter 2, there are many public speaking techniques that do double duty – they make you a more effective speaker while also reducing your anxieties.


What are the differences between volume and projection?

Emotional Tone

Aurelie Salvaire giving her
In addition to volume and projection, you need to convey emotion. Without emotion, you will be just as boring at a clear volume as when you are difficult to hear. [7]​

As previously noted, emotions are contagious. When you speak, you will want to convey emotion in your voice. This will set the tone for what you’re saying. There are times you may want the audience to be excited, sad, angry, or worried. Good emotional tone will cue your audience to how they should feel about the words you’re speaking at any given moment in your presentation.

Emotional tone is one of the most powerful tools in a speaker’s arsenal. When your audience is emotionally connected with your subject, your credibility and likability increase. Your audience will also be more engaged, persuaded, and will not soon forget your presentation.

Setting the right tone depends on the pitch of your voice. When you are expressing grief or sadness you will want to speak in a softer slower voice. When you want to convey excitement you would speak at a higher quicker rate.

Expression Rate

Expression rate refers to the speed of speaking. The rate at which you speak should be based upon the point you’re making and maintaining audience engagement. There are times when you will want to speak more slowly, or even word-for-word, to let your audience soak in the information you are expressing. There are times you will want to speak quickly in order to add urgency and immediacy to your message. There are still other times you will want to speak at a moderate conversational pace.

Click here to see the script for Video 11.04.

Click here to see the script for Video 11.05.


What are the advantages of varying the speed of your speaking during a presentation?


The next time you watch a television reporter or listen to an audiobook pay close attention to the sound of their words. Try closing your eyes and following along. In both instances you will find the speakers have excellent articulation. This refers to the crispness of the words they are speaking. News reporters and professional readers know that they must make it easy for their listeners to understand what they’re saying. In a casual conversation a listener can ask you to repeat yourself, but when you are public speaking you only have a certain amount of time to get your message across. Every moment counts, and ensuring your audience can easily understand your words increases the listeners’ understanding of your message.

In our daily conversations, there are times we may jumble words together or not finish a word completely, such as saying, “I’mmaboutta leave” rather than “I’m about to leave.” As you prepare your presentation, focus on areas where this may happen or on complex words that could confuse your audience. Practice your articulation in these areas, so that you can ensure your message is heard with clarity.


Think of a time you said a word or phrase incorrectly. It may have made someone laugh or look at you with confusion. Pronunciation refers to the correct way to say a word. Pronunciation is especially important in public speaking. If you’re informing or persuading an audience and you mispronounce a word or person’s name, your audience will question your credibility. You can easily avoid this by checking the pronunciation of any doubtful words you may come across in your speech. Sites like dictionary.com, or even features on some smartphones, will offer pronunciations of a word for you, so that you can learn the proper way to say them. Chapter 14 will have additional suggestions to help you always pronounce words and names correctly.

Click here to see the script for Video 11.06.

Click here to see the script for Video 11.07.


What is the difference between articulation and pronunciation?


Students that are new to public speaking often dread moments of silence during a presentation. It makes them nervous to have their peers staring at them while they fumble for their next point. Speakers who feel this way may fill the empty space with what is known as speech fillers, such as uh, um, ah.

On the other hand, silence, when used on purpose during a speech, is actually a powerful tool in your speaking arsenal. As a public speaker there are times you will want to deliberately pause in order to let the words you have just spoken soak in with your audience. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a moving speech to the United Nations General Assembly that involved pausing and staring at his audience for 45 seconds in order to let the point he made resonate in their minds. Here it is:

A pause can be between words as you say something word-for-word and/or at the end of a sentence or statement. You don’t want to do it too often, however, because it will lose its impact and your audience may wonder if you’re having trouble remembering your speech.

Click here to see the script for Video 11.08.

Click here to see the script for Video 11.09.

Aspects of Vocal Delivery: Volume. Projection. Emotional tone. Expression rate. Articulation. Pronunciation. Pausing.

Subject Spotlights header.


Student looking at a future in engineering could also greatly benefit from the skills taught throughout the Effective Public Speaking text. Informed decision making is integral to successful engineering, and that not only means informed decision making within a team of engineers, but also being able to communicate those decisions clearly and concisely to stakeholders reliant on the work being done by engineers. 

The Challenger Space shuttle taking off.
[19] The Challenger Space Shuttle

A famous case of engineering failure that could have been prevented by effective public speaking and communication skills is that of the Challenger Space Shuttle presentation in 1986. The night before the launch, NASA engineers had to create a quick presentation to NASA officials with their recommendation not to launch the Challenger Space Shuttle. As history shows us, tragically, those NASA officials did not listen to the engineers, and perhaps they would have if the engineers had the time and resources to improve their presentation. Effective communication skills, in this case, can prove to be life or death, and therefore should be practiced by all thinking about going into the field of engineering. If you are interested in more details about the Challenger Space Shuttle launch, please read the article here

“I’ve known a lot of engineers with terrific ideas who had trouble explaining them to other people. It’s always a shame when a guy with great talent can’t tell the board or a committee what’s in his head.… Not every manager has to be an orator or a writer. But more and more kids are coming out of school without the basic ability to express themselves clearly.” 
Lee Iacocca, Iacocca: An Autobiography

As you read through the text, those interested pursuing Engineering should put extra emphasis on:

  • Delivery
  • Communication with stakeholders 
  • Effective word selection
  • Audience analysis 
Subject Spotlights footer.

Non-Vocal Delivery Skills

Eye Contact

Famous motivational speaker Dan Clark.
Eye contact is important, but don't overwhelm your audience. [8]​

It has long been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. We often use them as a measure to determine how authentic a person is. As a public speaker it is vital that you show your sincerity by making eye contact with your audience.

Novice speakers often attempt to do this, but once in front of the audience with a sea of faces staring back at them their anxiety usually increases and they resort to staring at their outline, focusing on one section of the room, or looking above the audience’s heads and at the back wall.

Good speakers will pan the audience as they speak. That is to say, they will make direct eye contact with audience members on the left, center, and right of the room. This requires slow deliberate eye contact that does not appear rushed. It takes some practice, but your goal is to make your listeners feel like you’re just speaking to them. Refer back to the recommendations on eye contact in Chapter 2 – this is another one of those “double-duty” techniques that make you more effective while also reducing nervousness.


Looking over your audience’s heads is a good way to cope with anxiety if eye contact makes you nervous.





Click here to see the script for Video 11.10.

Click here to see the script for Video 11.11.

Facial Expression

Comedian Seth MacFarlane answering questions at a press conference.
Like your voice, your face should be expressive in a speech. [9]

Paul Ekman is an American psychologist who is best known for a landmark study where he compared facial expressions from a rural tribe in Papua New Guinea with those of people living in Japan. The study found that there are seven universal facial expressions that appear nearly the same on every person’s face regardless of their age, culture, or geographical location (Ekman, 1999). The seven universal facial expression are: anger, fear, disgust, contempt, joy, sadness, and surprise. (You will read more about Ekman's work in Chapter 15 on Nonverbal Communications.)

As a public speaker this is important because you show much of your emotion in your face. Therefore, the emotions you’re showing must complement your words. If you want your audience to feel frightened, sad, angry, or happy, you'll want to accompany your words with the correct facial expressions. By failing to do this you end up confusing your audience. As a public speaker your goal is to minimize confusion and engage your audience to the extent that they can easily follow along and focus on the message you are giving. Facial expressions are one important way you can do this.

Click here to see the script for Video 11.12.


How can you use facial expressions to your advantage while public speaking?


A figure on the left leaning back off of their centre of gravity and slouching vs a figure standing up perfectly straight with their spine lined up.
You'd be surprised how much of a difference good posture makes. [10]​

Another means to complementing your words is your posture. We are often told to maintain good posture, for example, by putting our shoulders back and keeping our heads level. While good posture is important for other aspects of public speaking such as projecting one’s voice, it is okay to change our posture if it helps in making a point. For example, if you were to describe how sad a person looks, you might hunch your shoulders, and if you were to describe how overconfident or prideful an individual was, you might exaggerate by throwing your shoulders back and your chest out. In general, however, you would want to maintain good posture in order to convey confidence and to assist in helping with proper breathing and voice projection.


Nonverbal communication is known to be ambiguous. A clenched fist could mean violence or it could mean strength. Raising your forefinger and middle finger signals peace, but turning your hand around as you do it can be seen (in some countries) as a hostile gesture.

As you speak, you will want to use gestures that complement and reinforce your words. Knowing that gestures can hold various meanings, ensure your facial expressions and emotional tone are in line with your words and gestures.

Finally, you will want to ensure your gestures are helping to move your speech along and not hindering you by unintentionally displaying nervousness or distracting gestures.

Click here to see the script for Video 11.13.

Click here to see the script for Video 11.14.

Physical Movement

As you begin a speech, you may feel yourself tensing up as your anxiety increases. One way to cope with this is by moving around in your speaking space. This releases some physical tension, but also keeps the audience alert because it motivates them to follow your movements rather than expecting you to stay in one place. Your movements can also add energy to your presentation, signal transitions, and add a conversational, casual feel to your presentation.

You will want to avoid movements that are distracting. This generally is the case when a speaker is nervous. Nervous speakers tend to pace as they seek to alleviate their tension. Conversely, some speakers stand completely at attention, motionless, and frozen. This hurts the speaker’s credibility as it conveys fear and a lack of confidence. Review the "magic triangle" technique described in Chapter 2. This will not only relieve some of your tension through movement, but it will also enhance your credibility as you appear to "move with purpose".

Another tactic of nervous speakers is standing behind the lectern, since it can be used as a barrier to hide from the audience. A timid speaker will also limit their gestures as they clutch the lectern in a death grip.

Using a lectern is not necessarily a bad thing if you must use a microphone attached to it. However, try to move away from it from time-to-time, if possible. Moving closer to the audience, especially those that are distracted, is an excellent way to encourage them to redirect their attention to your presentation. While standing at the lectern you will also want to ensure you are standing tall and making eye contact with your audience. Finally, make sure that you are still gesturing and appearing relaxed and in control.


What are some ways that physical movement can assist your presentation? What are some ways it can hurt your presentation?

Personal Appearance

The chest of a man wearing a tuxedo.
Dress appropriately for your venue and your speech! [11]

Students often wonder if giving a class presentation requires formal attire. The answer is, it depends. If you are giving a demonstration of what you learned from a karate class, then it would be appropriate to wear your gi, or karate uniform. If the intent of your speech was to inform the audience about comfortable running gear, then wearing clothes that suited the topic would be most appropriate.

Keep in mind that your personal appearance consists of your overall grooming including hair, jewelry, and make-up. Remember that your appearance is one of the first things people will notice about you. Attending to this will ensure your speech begins on the right foot. You will find a more detailed explanation of the importance of your appearance in Chapter 15, including a list of recommendations of what to wear or not to wear.

Aspects of Non-vocal Delivery: Eye contact. Facial expression. Posture. Gestures. Physical movement. Personal appearance.


You should always dress in formal attire for every presentation.





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Practicing Your Speech

Super bowl ads are just as popular as watching that championship football game. One popular commercial featured a young boy and his father playing catch with a baseball in their backyard. The camera was focused on the boy catching and throwing. You could only hear the dad’s voice as he complimented and encouraged his son to continue throwing the ball the same way over and over. It was very obvious that he was doing everything wrong, making it all the more painful to watch. The camera then turns to the dad revealing that he is throwing the ball as poorly as his son.

If father and son continued to practice this way for hours upon hours, year after year, it would not make any improvement in the boy’s ability. He would not have any better chance at a professional baseball career despite his years of effort. This is because practice does not make perfect…it only makes things permanent. In relation to public speaking, the wrong kind of practice will negatively effect your speech while the right kind of practice will improve your speaking abilities.

Many students have wondered what went wrong when their presentation did not go as well as they had imagined it would. “When I practiced at home, everything went well. I even timed myself and I spoke for six minutes in practice…why was my presentation only four minutes today in class?” Although there could be several reasons, only the right type of practice can help enhance your speech delivery and create the intended impact on your audience in the way you intended to. Quality practice will also have the additional benefit of minimizing your public speaking anxiety while maximizing your confidence. The following section will provide some useful approaches that can improve your practice sessions.


Why do some students that practice and prepare for a speech sometimes fail to make an impact on their audience the day of their presentation?

Budget Your Time

A disgruntled man with his head on his desk and his hands on his head sitting between a clock and a calendar.
Properly budgeting time in preparing speeches is vital to reduce nerves and set yourself up for success. [12]​

Throughout our lives we operate under deadlines – personal, academic, and professional. When we give ourselves ample time to prepare for an event, project, or meeting we are less stressed and more confident. It is the same for your speech presentation. Taking time to practice will help you become less nervous and will make the shock of facing an audience less daunting. You will find giving yourself time and practicing daily very reassuring.

You cannot effectively implement the suggestions below if you’re rushing at the last minute to practice. You have to work with a sense of positive urgency. Students will often delay their obligations by convincing themselves they have plenty of time while thinking of some vague time in the future that they will fulfill their commitments. Do not fall into this same line of reasoning. I am always amazed on speech day at the number of students who are sitting in class writing out their speech notes at the beginning of class. Realize – if you are just now preparing your speaking notes, you are admitting to your professor that you have not practiced your speech in its final version even once. “You may delay,” Benjamin Franklin once said, “but time will not delay.”


In what areas of your day do you feel you could dedicate time toward practicing your speech? What would you have to sacrifice to make this happen?

Practice Your Speech Out Loud

When you initially brainstorm, collect your thoughts and write your outline, you generally practice in silence. However, it is imperative that you also practice aloud. Each of us has heard our recorded voices at some time in our lives and it seemed quite different from what we expected. This is exactly what happens when you practice aloud. If you wait until the day of the speech to project your voice, it will feel very foreign to you.

As you rehearse, you should first begin by just getting a feel for your words and moving through the entirety of your speech without stopping to revise certain areas. You will then want to move to projecting your voice, adding emotional tone, checking pronunciation, and monitoring the pace at which you’re speaking.

You may also consider recording or videotaping yourself. There are a number of apps available for tablets and smartphones that can be easily downloaded and utilized for such a purpose. A good rule of thumb is to practice the entire speech, from opening lines to closing statements, between five and seven times. That is not enough times to memorize the speech, but it is enough to feel comfortable with an extemporaneous delivery.

Practice All Parts of Your Speech

There are parts of your presentation that may be very easy for you to remember. Perhaps you will share a personal narrative or example in your speech. Since these are personal experiences, you may think they will come easily and that practicing them is unnecessary.

Failing to practice all parts of your speech can cause you to stumble during your presentation. You want to practice everything exactly as you plan to present it to your audience. This includes practicing with your presentation aids. If you fumble through a story, example, or slide, you will lose momentum, increase anxiety, and hurt your credibility.

Pace Yourself

A woman jogging in front of a sunset.
When writing a speech, like in long distance running, you need to pace yourself. [13]​

If you attempt to refine your speech by rehearsing it from beginning to end, you will become overwhelmed. You want to build momentum by practicing the presentation a little at a time. A good way to do this is to rehearse individual parts of the speech. Begin with the introduction. When you feel comfortable with that, add the body of the speech, and finally, add the conclusion. This will build familiarity with your speech as you practice numerous times, thus dramatically increasing your confidence. Then after the speech has been refined and you are satisfied with the final product, put all the pieces together for the last several practices.

Get Feedback from Critical Listeners

A man sitting down and listening intently with his hand on his chin.
Not all feedback is equal. Seek the opinions of people who are critical but also fair evaluators. [14]​

I used the words “critical listener” to explain the type of person that will do their best to give you quality feedback – critical in this case does not mean negative, but rather serving as an objective critic. Think of a movie critic – they may love or hate a movie, but they will also be able to point out strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes friends may not be too concerned with how you present and simply tell you, “It sounds fine to me.” A loving parent may tell you, “you did wonderful - you’re going to get an A!”

A critical listener may need some direction as to what to evaluate when they listen to you practice your speech. Some points you can ask them to evaluate include:

  • Ask them to repeat the main points of your speech: If you convey your thoughts clearly enough then your listener should easily remember them.
  • Evaluate your clarity: You want to minimize confusion and maximize listening, so you may want your listener to evaluate your transitions and pronunciation.
  • Critique your supporting materials: Have the listener determine if your citations, examples, and presentation aids are confusing or could in some way be improved.
  • Assess body language: Have the listener to determine if your nonverbal communication complements or hinders your verbal communication.  

Practice with a Study Buddy

Pairing up with a classmate is an excellent way to practice and refine your delivery. Since the two of you are under the same course requirements, you can keep each other accountable in your practice sessions. You are also able to feel more comfortable as you come to class the day of presentations knowing there is an encouraging classmate in the room that is going through the same challenges of delivering a quality speech.


What are the advantages of practicing your speech with a fellow student from your speech class?

Practice in the Speaking Room

Some professional athletes make an effort to practice and walk the field they will play on days before the game. This is to become acquainted with the lay of the land and to visualize and anticipate game day.

You can take the same approach for public speaking. Take the opportunity to practice in the actual place you will be presenting. If possible, become familiar with, and practice, your presentation with the equipment you will use, such as the room’s computer and projector. If the room is unavailable, try to find a similar room for practice. This will help you gauge your voice projection, proximity to the audience, and simulate the actual presentation.  

Practice with a Modified Outline

Former President Barack Obama practising a speech with some of his White House aides.
Practice your speech. If you're going to use notes, make sure you practice with them. [15]​

Students that are new to public speaking tend to rely on a long list of notes as they give their presentation. They generally panic about forgetting information and having awkward silences as they fumble to remember the next portion of their presentation. This will actually backfire on a speaker. The more clutter you take to the front with you the more likely you will lose your place as you make eye contact with the audience and then glance back down at your extensive notes. After a few awkward pauses, many students panic and begin to simply read their notes rather than present their material. They are more concerned with saying everything they prepared than actually communicating with the audience.

Remembering your material should not be a problem if you are committed to practicing your speech well before the presentation. The more you practice, the more familiar you become with the material and familiarity breeds confidence. As you gain confidence, modify your outline and notes and reduce them to the least amount of words possible. Ideally, you want to have what is known as a “keyword outline,” as explained in Chapter 5. This is an outline that reduces whole sections of your speech to one or two keywords. This will greatly de-clutter the notes you take to the lectern, and when you glance down during the speech you will easily locate your material. There are, however, two exceptions to reducing your outline:

Exception 1 – Direct Quote: When you are quoting someone you want to be sure you are capturing exactly what they said. Therefore, it is a good idea to have the entire statement written down. It is almost a compliment to your audience that you are taking steps to ensure the accuracy of the quotes you are presenting, even if you need to look down at your notes to read them word-for-word.

Exception 2 – Technical Information: If a portion of your speech requires a detailed explanation, it’s important to have that information listed rather than rely on your memory.

Remember, when you present, you should already be familiar enough with the material that glancing at your outline will remind you of what your next line should be. Strive, therefore, to minimize the words on your notecards with this goal in mind.

Practice in Front of a Mirror

Former President Barack Obama standing in front of a mirror.
Practicing in front of a mirror can eliminate the fear of how you look, because you'll know exactly what you look like. [16]​

Students new to public speaking often imagine how nervous they will feel and look when facing an audience. This type of negative visualizing increases the likelihood that you will perform poorly. If you find yourself doing this, you can cope with it by simply taking your imagination out of the equation. This is accomplished by practicing in front of a mirror.

The first time you face your reflection and speak out loud you will feel a little awkward, but after a few minutes the uneasiness will go away. Take the time to practice a phrase or gesture. Try out different postures and gestures with different words. You will find that practicing in front of a mirror not only helps in refining your ability, but also increases your confidence to delivery your message the day of your presentation.

Record Yourself

A webcam.
As athletes constantly watch video of their play, recording your speech can help you analyze your performance and break down what you need to do to improve. [17]​

Once you decide upon and feel comfortable with the delivery approach you’ve practiced in front of a mirror, you can now move on to recording yourself. Today’s technology will allow you to easily use your smartphone, tablet, or computer’s webcam to do the filming. There are also apps available that are specially designed for the intended purpose of assisting your speech practice.

As a speech instructor, I have often video recorded students doing their speeches, and then allowed the students to come in privately to my office and watch themselves. I’d even leave the room at times, so the student could comfortably watch their speech alone. A very common reaction was, “I didn’t look as bad as I thought I would!” To get the full impact and quality of both the mirror and recorded speech practice, make sure to use the same outline you will use during your actual speech and practice implementing the previous suggestions listed throughout this chapter.


How is rehearsing your speech in front of a mirror different than recording yourself during speech practice? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Words of wisdom are often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Some of these aphorisms include:

An artist's rendition of Benjamin Franklin sitting and thinking in front of a laptop.
Benjamin Franklin's pithy sayings are still in common use today. [18]​

  • "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."
  • "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."
  • "Three can keep a secret if two are dead."

One of the lesser-known attributed observations is very fitting in regards to your practice:

“By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.”

Remember that knowing what you are going to say is not the same as practicing how you’re going to say it. It is important to practice in a manner that closely resembles the actual experience of presenting the speech. Athletes compete in pre-season games to prepare for their competition; soldiers participate in military drills that resemble actual combat zone scenarios. Practicing your speech in a way that makes you comfortably familiar with your presentation is no different.


To sum up this chapter on delivery and practice techniques, here are the key points to remember as you develop your public speaking skills and talents:

  •  Presenting a speech involves more than just the words you speak. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it.
  •  Remember the differences between the four basic delivery styles, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  • There are a number of non-vocal delivery skills that can greatly enhance your speech, such as voice projection and eye contact.
  • Refining your delivery skills will increase your credibility and the audience’s understanding and interest in your presentation.
  • Practice does not make perfect it only makes things permanent. The right type of practice can help enhance your speech delivery and impact your audience in the way you intended to. Quality practice will also have the additional benefit of minimizing your public speaking anxiety while maximizing your confidence.

End of Chapter Checklist

After reading this chapter, you should be able to say to yourself:

  • I can explain the importance of delivery preparation
  • I can identify and describe the four types of speech delivery
  • I can identify and describe seven types of verbal delivery
  • I can identify and describe six types of nonvocal skills
  • I am familiar with seven approaches for practicing a speech
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Video Scripts

Video 11.01 - Video 11.02

A common adverse negotiating strategy is a competitive win/lose approach. It is based on the assumption that only one side can reach its goals and that any victory by that party will be matched by the other's loss. Although this is not the ideal approach to use, it may be necessary to use a win/lose approach in order to protect your interests. A common example of this occurs when companies are competing for the same client or job candidates or competing for the same job.

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Video 11.3

A common negotiating strategy is known as a win/lose approach. This is based on the assumption that only one side can win, and the other must lose. This is obviously not the ideal approach to use, but it may be necessary to use the win/lose approach in order to protect your interests. A common example of this occurs when companies are competing for the same client, or you yourself are competing with someone for the same job. 

 here to return to Video 11.03.

Video 11.04 - Video 11.05

Dry mouth, fatigue, chest pains, body aches, confusion, and forgetfulness…

These are just a few of the symptoms that are caused by stress.

As far as your professional life goes, you can expect, less focus, efficiency, productivity, not to mention an overwhelming sense of frustration and irritability.

Clearly…every one of us needs to learn to cope in positive ways with stress.

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Video 11.06

In 19th century England, the Anglican church opposed, “anti-dis"...."estab"..."anti-dis-estab"...."anti-dis-estab-lish"... which was the [laughing] withdraw of state support for their faith. 

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Video 11.07

In 19th century England, the Anglican church opposed, “antidisestablishmentarianism”, which was the withdrawal of state support for their faith.  

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Video 11.08 - Video 11.09

How long do you think the human body can go without food?

A week, two-weeks, a month?

And how long do you think the human body can go without water?

2 days, 3 days, perhaps a whole week?

These are questions you don’t want to ask yourself during a catastrophic event. This presentation will help you prepare an emergency stockpile to prepare for such a moment.

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Video 11.10 - Video 11.11

We can never stay silent in the face of great injustices.

We have a moral obligation to speak up.

Edmund Burke once said that, "all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

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Video 11.12

It happens to all of us, after all we are college students. You stay out late, only to drag yourself out of bed for work, or for class the next morning.

How often, does lack of sleep cause you to grab a coffee from Starbucks or an energy drink from your local gas station?

That magical drink takes you from sleepy to energetic in a matter of minutes.

Those late night early morning dilemmas are easily solved with any caffeine or energy drink right? …WRONG! 

Contrary to popular belief, not all  beverages are created  equally.

So…just how much caffeine and sugar are in your favorite Starbucks or in favorite energy drink? The answer may surprise you.

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Video 11.13 

Everyone is motivated to aspire to something in life.

For some, it is to be the best at their  sport, or maybe to become good at a trade, such as becoming a mechanic…For me, I felt the call to serve my country.

I knew I would have to push myself to reach my goal. In high school I wasn’t the most disciplined or the most fit.

However, a dream was stirring inside me, and I was ready to do whatever it took to turn that dream into reality.  

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Video 11.14

Every one of us is motivated to aspire to something in life.

For some, it may be to be the best at their personal sport, for others, it may be an interest in a certain trade, like becoming a mechanic…For me, I felt the desire to serve my country.

I knew that I would have to climb the ladder of success. In high school, I wasn’t the most  fit or the most disciplined. 

However, a dream was stirring in my heart, and I was willing to do whatever it took to reach my goal.

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Image Credits

[1] Image courtesy of the U.S Military in the Public Domain.

[2] Image courtesy of ganbei under CC BY 2.0.

[3] Image courtesy of Milner Moshe under CC BY-SA 3.0.

[4] Image courtesy of marismith under CC BY 2.0.

[5] Image courtesy of l_bo under CC BY 2.0

[6] Image courtesy of Ekta Parishad under CC BY-SA 3.0

[7] Image courtesy of Alejandro González under CC BY-SA 4.0.

[8] Image courtesy of Dan Clark under CC BY-SA 2.0.

[9] Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 2.0.

[10] Image courtesy of bethscupham under CC BY 2.0.

[11] Image courtesy of kentwang under CC BY-SA 2.0.

[12] Image courtesy of Shivmirthyu in the Public Domain.

[13] Image in the Public Domain.

[14] Image courtesy of boellstiftung under CC BY-SA 2.0.

[15] Image courtesy of whitehouse in the Public Domain.

[16] Image courtesy of Ekabhishek in the Public Domain.

[17] Image courtesy of Asim18 under CC BY-SA 3.0.

[18] Image courtesy of thomashubbard under CC BY 2.0.

[19] Image courtesy of Pixabay under Pixabay License. 

Credibility - noun
The audience’s willingness to believe what you say and trust in you.
Preparing a speech word for word, and presenting it by reading your script exactly was written.
Memorize - verb
he memorized speech is the exact same speech that was written as a manuscript; the only difference is that the speaker has practiced so much that they no longer need the script to deliver it.
Impromptu - adj
A speech delivery style with no preparation at all.
Although the dictionary defines extemporaneous as “impromptu,” in public speaking it means delivering your speech with limited preparation.
Volume - noun
Volume can be achieved by raising your voice to the point of shouting, not to be confused with projection.
Projection - noun
Projection increases your level by a speaking technique that maintains your vocal quality, not to be confused with volume.
Expression Rate
How quickly you are saying your words.
Articulation - noun
Articulation means properly saying every syllable and letter clearly, without mumbling or slurring, such as “Did you eat an apple?” rather than “Jeet napple?” Not to be confused with pronunciation.
Pronunciation - noun
Pronunciation means saying the words with the right accepted standard sound and stress patterns on syllables and letters. Not to be confused with articulation.
Ambiguous - adj
Able to be understood or interpreted in more than one way.