Successful Public Speaking.


Stanley Hunter.

In a recent Newsletter, Bill made a plea for more speakers at the A.G.M.'s noting the fact that many people do not come forward because of a lack of confidence to get up and talk about a favourite topic or collection. While a few lines cannot give you the confidence that is required, a few well tried hints are given to persuade you that you don't have to be an expert to stand up and make an interesting talk and in particular, some useful tips to avoid the pitfalls that one dreads may happen when engaged in a group or public talk.


Structure your talk using the '10-85-5' rule, that is 10% Introduction and Aim, 85% Main Content, and 5% summary and Conclusion. Prepare what you have to say by using the spoken rather than the written word approach. If the subject matter is long with detail, then it is far better to produce a written handout than to try and cram masses of facts and figures in a few minutes, the chances are that your audience will have forgotten most of the detailed material by the time you start your next sentence.

Frame your talk against the type of audience, the time available, the broad purpose and aim of talk, and most important, the dialogue and questions if you wish to have a response from the audience. If there is a handout, mention this at the start of your talk.

Use Simple English. Your audience must understand what you say. Use words that both you and they know. Use simple phrases, short sentences, frequent pauses and rests, an audience likes to absorb one fact at a time. They will be grateful for having an easy time listening to you. Never use abbreviations unless you have fully explained them first.

Never use hackneyed phrases like, "the cutting-edge-of-technology" "you know" and "well basically", also avoid the use of jargon and words ending in "ism" and "ization".

Complete your talk in the time limit set, this may need a little rehearsal. Speak with the aim to interest your audience not to weary and exhaust them.

Do not bluff, the audience can easily spot a 'bullshiner'.

Be enthusiastic, let yourself go, no speaker has ever been criticised for their enthusiasm! Your spirit will be contagious.

Speak slowly and try to modulate your voice for greater impact.

Speak to the audience, never to a display, screen, or ceiling.

Finish on a high note, leave the audience thinking!

O.K.? So far we have covered the actual talking bit. Just as important is what you do while you are talking.


A. Position. Your position in relation to the audience will depend on its size, the seating arrangements and the degree of formality of the occasion. Other than very informal occasions, it is normally best to stand. Whatever your position, make sure you can easily be seen.

B. Feet. Place your feet several inches apart with one foot slightly forward. Be well balanced and natural looking. Stand relaxed and preferably still. Pacing up and down or swaying back-and-forth will annoy your listeners.

C. Hands. Hands should rest easily at the sides with unclenched fists. The position of the hands this way makes it easy to give effective gestures! also to use notes or point out items on display.

D. Body position. Lean slightly forward when giving a talk. This position gives an impression of being eager to talk to the audience, it also makes sure that you will fall forward if someone draws a pistol and shoots you!

E. Eyes. Eye contact should take place over the entire audience as well as being directed to individuals from time to time.


Never put your hands in your pockets and jingle money, keys, etc.

Never cover your mouth with your hands.

Never rock backwards and forwards on your heels.

Never fix your eyes above the level of the audience or stare at your own or somebody else's shoes!


They want you to entertain them, give them information, and share your topic. An audience does not like.

A. Sluggishness. Too long getting to the point.

B. Verbosity. Too much to say.

C. Superfluity. Too many points of emphasis, too much material, and uninteresting detail.

D. Boredom. Watch the reaction at all times, if they start to twitch in their chairs, constant yawning, and nodding off. CONCLUDE. If you have done the correct preparation you will never have to deal with this sort of problem.

E. Fear. Most of all, do not be afraid of your audience. They are looking forward to what you have to say, and the interesting and topical items on display.


There is one golden rule to Public Speaking. Be yourself.

There are also ten DO NOT rules to remember.

1. Reduce your authority by commencing with apologies.

2. Flaunt figures (unless you have one worth flaunting!).

3. Be sentimental.

4. Be sarcastic.

5. Exaggerate.

6. Be dull.

7. Murder the English Language.

8. Wander from the subject (too far).

9. Waste time.

10. Be long winded.


Rehearse your talk well in advance. A small sheet of paper with the main headings, important dates etc. may be used to aid the memory, but keep this short. After a couple of talks it will come easier, but you have to make a start somewhere to gain confidence. Good speaking is Good Entertaining.


© Exhibition Study Group 1993