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The Conversation of Public Speaking


The Voice Lady

The last thing I want to hear when Im in attendance for a 50-minute presentation is a speaker reading to me. My feeling is that if you are going to read your material, why not zerox it, pass it out and we can all go home or back to work. Better yet, email it to me!

The next to the last thing I want to hear is the speaker expounding for 50 minutes of memorized text. Memorization is a necessity in acting. In public speaking, it is dangerous for 2 reasons:

1.You will sound rote; and,

2.If you lose your train of thought, you have nothing to fall back on.

Your function as a public speaker is, first and foremost, to speak. You have an audience in attendance who came to hear you talk not read not act nor perform. What we often fail to understand in this oral form of discourse is that public speaking is communication with your audience, not at them.

What this means for you, the speaker, is that you should rehearse your presentation many, many times so that you are comfortable with your main points and can speak around your ideas using note cards or by means of a PowerPoint presentation. Jotting down a few words per card or per slide will serve as your reminder so that you can talk around your main points or subtopics.

When I give a presentation on voice, for example, I have one word at the top of a card which says in big, bold, black letters Intro. From that one word, I will give my entire opening.

Under that word, I have, again in big, bold letters Graduate School, then New York City, and finally, UWO. Following my opening, I know to discuss how I found my real voice in graduate school and the jobs it secured for me in New York City and then later in Canada. Those 4 points Into through UWO give me about 10 minutes of material on one 5X8 note card. And each time, I give that presentation, it will sound slightly different. It depends on my audience and how I feel at the time. I may add a new anecdote or change it up slightly, again entirely dependent on the time, the place, and the crowd.

My 50-minute presentation consists of six note cards. Because the words are in large print, I can easily move over to the lectern to see where I am should I have need. In most cases, however, I do not need my notes because I have given the same presentation for 20 years. My message remains the same each time. It is my anecdotes that change.

By speaking around note cards, I am then able to talk to my audience and not at them, making eye contact throughout the room, targeting my smilers, and watching the audiences reaction to me. And that is the conversation of public speaking.

The Voice Lady

Nancy Daniels

offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as

Voicing It!

, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit

Voice Dynamic


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