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The Top 10 Public Speaking Tips from Broadcasters

The Top 10 Public Speaking Tips from Broadcasters


Everyone is asked to answer questions about work or academic topics or issues.  It could be in a meeting, when you are asked to describe your project.  It could be in a class, when you are asked to describe your experience with a topic or analyze an issue.  It could be during the question/answer portion of a presentation, homily, delivering a report.

In the American culture, the favorite is for responses to be direct and to the point.

The task for you is similar to broadcasters who are doing live reporting.  About six months before he passed, my dear husband found this book for me.  He found tips in it he thought would be useful to me… and you.  So here are some tips for extemporaneous or impromptu presentations … or simply answering complex questions.. from the broadcasting industry from Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D., Broadcast Voice Handbook, How to Polish Your On-Air Delivery.

Your goal is to be clear and helpful.  Economy is the goal. Keep the response short, precise.  Less said well is better than more said rambling.

Some specific tips for preparing and for delivery:

  1. Take the time to develop a simple sentence in your mind that will summarize your answer.   Your summary sentence is what you have decided is the key point you want to make.
  2.   You are also deciding on why you are saying what you want to say.  Knowing the “why” helps you to know the “what” and the “how” to say it.
  3. Once you have developed this summary sentence, it is easy to construct two or three main points that relate to this sentence.
  4. Economy and clarity of information can be improved by focusing on two or three main points.
  5. Limit each sentence to one idea.  (Hey, simple, right?  Cleverly simple!)
  6. Use short sentences.
  7. Avoid fillers, which might be verbal filers such as “uh,” “okay,” or “um,” or they could be sentences you include just to fill up time or perhaps to give you time to think.   You might also be using verbal fillers to begin sentences like “Now….” Or “As you can see…”  You might be using verbal fillers to help you by giving you time to think, but they distract the listeners.  Instead, just pause and give yourself a moment to think of the next thing.  The best native-born speakers do this.  You do it, too!
  8. If you are fortunate enough to have forewarning that you are going to be asked to respond to a question, or you have foresight about what is likely to happen, then prepare the summary sentence and talking points beforehand.  (For a presentation, think, think, think… of what the probable questions are going to be.  Or test the presentation on a listener and see what questions they have.)
  9. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a written summary, you want to be able to speak in an extemporaneous speaking style, which means thinking up words that you want to say as you say them.  You will have a map to follow with your talking points, but basically you will be just talking.  In order to do this well, you must have good focus.  Focus means to put everything else out of your head … your next meal, your aching back, anticipation of a great party….
  10. It is a good idea to memorize your exit line.  (First you have to think of an exit line.)   Having a memorized exit line means that if you are suddenly stopped or you miscalculate the length of the presentation or response and have to stop suddenly, you can do so with some grace… your exit line.  You can do better than.  “That’s all…”   But it could be as simple as:  “Now I have given you the information as I know it.  The solutions are complex and will take patience.  In the words of one of my favorite truisms, this one by St. Jerome who said, “Be patient with everyone, AND especially yourself.”

 P.S. Some people like to memorize their opening line so they feel secure at the beginning of their talk.


Next time will be how to learn from the experts in your spare time!


Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercise.


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