Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to act. ~Proverbs 3:27
This page is directed toward short speech design and delivery. While some of the
principles will benefit a longer presentation some are focused directly on the delivery
of a short speech.
A recent speech by President Obama offers us a good example of speech delivery to
go with the chapter Speech Design & Delivery from Police Instructor. On August 29,
2011 President Obama delivered a speech to the nation concerning Hurricane Irene.
He was followed by Janet Napolitano (Secretary of Homeland Security) and Craig Fugate
(Director of Fema). I watched the address live and noticed several learning opportunities
to take away for instructors. Some good and some really bad. You can watch below
and see for yourself.
The President spoke first using a written speech. It is always best to speak about
ideas and personal experiences although I will cut the president a break since this
is not his area of expertise. He looks up at the audience but has trouble using vocal
variety or gestures when reading from a prepared speech laying on a lectern in front
of him. He said the word "I" several times when he could have said "we" or "our".
People don't like hearing any speaker saying "I" all the time. When you watch you
will have to decide when it was necessary and when it wasn't. The contrast between
the three speakers was sharp to say the least.
Janet Napolitano was something of a different nature. She gave an awful example for
speech delivery. She looked into the sky instead of at the audience when she looked
up at all. She referred to Craig Fugate as "My Director" instead of "our" or "your"
which again isn't something an audience enjoys hearing. Her manerisms looked robotic
and there was nothing natural about her delivery. She was thinking more about how
to speak instead of what she was speaking about.
Craig Fugate was the gold standard of platform skills. He was natural with every
movement and word he spoke. He concentrated on ideas and personal experiences. He
did not require any notes and that freed him to speak with the audience as if having
a conversation with a friend. His eye contact, gestures, and vocal variety were all
He seemed to follow President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s instructions on giving a speech:
"Be Sincere; Be Brief; Be Seated."
In contrast watch this debate between Senator Kerry and former President George Bush.
Whether you agree with him or not he has passion when he speaks to the audience and
for the subject he is speaking about.
This is the vitality we should seek to earnestly convey to our audience regardless
of the message. Whether we are delivering a short speech or a lengthy presentation
the former president provides us with an intriguing example.
It helps when you are talking from personal experience and about personal convictions.
TED.com has great examples of public speaking and presentation design.
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