From the Office of Educational Development at UC Berkeley:

Analyze Your Audience
  • Remember that the members of the audience are beneficiaries of your communication.
  • Don’t make assumptions about your audience.
  • Figure out the basics. Who are these people?
    • demographics (age, ethnicity, gender mix, etc.).
    • predispositions (hopes, fears, positives/negatives, level of interest).
    • knowledge of/experience with subject/me.
  • In what kind of setting will you be speaking?
    • large lecture hall or small seminar room or classroom.
    • lighting and sound issues.
    • time of day.
  • Take into account the “me, here, now.”
    • Picture yourself as a member of the audience and ask “How does this message affect me, here, now?”
    • “Me, here, now” translates into what you as a sender have to offer your audience/receivers—what they will be able to understand, accept, support, consider important—because it matters to them.
  • Establish objectives for your audience:
    • What do I want my audience to know?
    • What do I want my audience to do

Openings, and Closings

OPENINGS. Stay away from the predictable (Good morning…, Today, I’m here to talk about…). Instead:

  • Begin with a provocative question, anecdote, or current event—and how it relates to the content.
  • Ask the audience a question
  • Set up a problem—and promise that they’ll have all the tools for a solution by the end of the class.

CLOSINGS. Many speakers simply talk until the end of the time or beyond it—and say, “I see we’re out of time.” Instead:

  • Plan a rhythm for your speaking—plan to end with content 5 minutes early, so you can summarize, raise questions.
  • Set aside a time for questions—and structure that time.

Preparation

You won’t cover everything you want in a talk or speech.

  • Decide what is essential, what is important, and what is helpful.
    • Cover the first; try to cover the second; forget about the third.
    • Release a little control over the material and rely on a list of supplementary readings for the nonessentials.
  • Set objectives.
    • What do you want to have accomplished at the end of the speech?
    • What do you want the audience to know at the end of the speech?
  • Plan a speech to cover less than the allotted period.
    • It takes some time to get going.
    • Questions always take up more time than you expect.
  • Divide the speech into segments and follow the standard speech structure.
    • Divide it in terms of time and material.
    • Try for roughly equal blocks, each one on a topic.
    • Tell them what you’ll say, say it, and tell them what you’ve said.
  • Speak from notes or an outline, rather than a complete text.
    • It’s too tempting to simply read, rather than lecture, from a complete text.
    • Reading also creates a barrier between speaker and audience.
    • Writing up an entire speech is time consuming.
    • A written speech often becomes a fossil that never gets updated.

Delivery
  • Be conversational; speak naturally; be yourself.
    • That self may be formal, “laid back,” understated, or hyper. Use those traits; don’t fight against them.
    • Talk about the material; don’t lecture about it.
    • (Talking is easier if you don’t read verbatim.)
  • Vary your pacing and voice.
    • Gauge audience reaction.
    • Repeat critical points immediately if you sense the necessity.
    • Use your voice to emphasize the important points.
    • Pause before new points.
    • Use transitional statements to move to the next idea.
  • Use gestures to emphasize points.
    • Have your gestures mirror your voice.
    • Adjust your gestures to the size of the room.
  • Look at the audience.
    • Try to cover all parts of the room by dividing it into four quadrants.
    • If direct eye contact makes you forget your place, try looking just over a listener’s head, or between two audience members.
  • Use language to create pictures.
    • Use metaphors, analogies, and similes.
  • Observe the techniques of others.
    • Try out techniques you admire in others.
    • Like any skill, delivery must be learned

Credibility & Commitment

Although speaking isn’t theatre, we know that audience find concepts and ideas most accessible and credible from someone they consider entertaining.

  • Think about antecedent image—perception is often stronger than reality.
  • Credibility is enhanced by:
    • Your own sense of comfort and confidence presenting material.
    • Your enthusiasm and interest in teaching.
    • Your research and own ideas.
  • Commitment is enhanced by:
    • Relating your own experience, ideas, and feelings.
    • Taking the first person approach, not separating yourself from your subject.
    • Relating your “passion” for your subject.
  • Delivery is tied to both commitment and credibility:
    An old UCLA study of effective presentations analyzed 3 elements (verbal, vocal, visual). Here’s what it found was important in establishing credibility/believability:
    • Verbal (words you say): 7%.
    • Vocal (how you sound when you say them): 38%.
    • Visual (how you look when you say them): 55%.
  • Your energy and intensity will move your audience—and help you reach your objectives.

Building Interaction
  • Learning takes place best in an active, not a passive environment.
  • Interaction is a continuous way to
    • Assess the me, here, now.
    • Determine whether or not your content is understood.
    • Share the responsibility of learning more equitably and appropriately.
  • How to build interaction?
    • Have questions prepared—begin with relatively easy, accessible ones.
    • Work to get everyone involved, even in large groups.
  • Ask the audience to consider issues with the person sitting next to them/jot down ideas, questions, concerns.
  • Discuss as a larger group.
  • Move yourself!
    • Don’t scurry back and forth, but don’t get locked into one position.

Handling Questions
  • Explicitly request and encourage questions.
    • The audience will see that you have a genuine interest in what they’re thinking.
  • Be aware of how your behavior and comments can set the tone for questioning.
    • A negative response (e.g., “We’ve already covered that”) discourages further questions and may make the audience think you don’t really want questions.
  • Make sure everyone hears the question.
    • Repeat it if necessary.
    • But don’t make a habit of simply repeating every question.
    • Ask the audience if they heard the question; then ask the person to repeat.
  • Clarify questions.
    • Say, “Do you mean that . . . ,” or “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question,” rather than “Your question isn’t clear.”
  • Answer questions as directly as possible.
    • Address your answer to the whole audience.
    • Ask whether you have answered the question.
  • Be diplomatic when people raise tangential, overly complicated questions, or persistently ask questions just to be asking.
    • Ask them to stop by after the presentation or to contact you.
    • If a someone is simply confused, say, “Let me go over this point a bit more slowly.”

Getting Feedback
  • Get regular feedback.
    • Ask the audience to spend the last five minutes of class writing down the most important thing they learned that day or one question they have as a result of the talk.
    • Or ask them to write down questions they still have.
  • Use eye contact as a tool for continuous feedback.
    • If you notice people with questioning looks, stop what you’re doing and ask if you need to clarify.
    • If you get no response, go ahead and clarify.