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Exercises on Delivery

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  • Have fast talkers practice with exaggerated slowness
  • Practice clear enunciation (hold pencil in teeth)
  • Volume issues: try extremes
  • Projection: try projecting a whisper to the back of a large room
  • Enunciation: practice some tongue twisters, e.g. "the big black bear bit the big black bug and the big black bug bled blood."
  • Read Fox in Socks aloud

Connection with audience

Draw faces on whiteboard to encourage eye contact.  Eye contact is not simply glancing up at people's eyes -- it's making a true connection and conveying meaning.

During rehearsal, ask the speaker, "What are you connected to as you speak?" Often, speakers are most connected with their notes (clinging to the paper) or with their memory (trying to get it just right). The speaker should focus on connecting with the audience.

Avoiding distractions

  • Filler words: identify commonly used filler words, then do a practice run where you can
    • give immediate feedback by e.g. holding up your pen every time you hear filler
    • give less immediate feedback on a tape you make of the talk
    • quantify how many times they use filler -- they may be surprised
  • Try giving the talk with hands on podium, standing absolutely still
    • focuses talk on just the verbal aspect of it
    • may help "hyperactive" presenters bounce around less
  • For gestures: Imagine a box in front of your torso
    • keep your gestures in there; only go outside for emphasis
    • for gestures: describe how to get to MemAud from your dorm with your hands behind your back, then again using gestures

Relaxation and vocal exercises

  • Deep breathing -- relieves stress; hold good posture and breathe deeply; think relaxing thoughts.
  • Basic head roll -- roll head slowly, twice around to the left, and twice around to the right.
  • Shoulder lift -- lift shoulders toward ears. Repeat, this time moving them backwards, too. Rotate shoulders. Feel them relax.
  • Facial wiggle -- wiggle every tiny expressive muscle in your face. Finish with a big grin!
  • Mouth activator -- yawn as widely as you can
  • Diaphragm tightener -- tighten diaphragm muscle (as if about to absorb a punch). Release. Breathe deeply. Repeat several times.
  • See Vocal Warmup:

Suggested Videos

Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are:

Taylor Mali: Speak with Conviction:

Jessica Jackley, Founder of Kiva: Example of being authentic, genuine emotion (the speaker cries during talk):

Benjamin Zander, Conductor: Example of energy, passion, engaging audience: