Speech or Presentation


General Notes:

Step 1: Understand assignment.

  • Read your assignment (from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and ask your professor if you have questions on what is required.
    • Who is your audience? What is your purpose? Let this guide your topic, tone and style.
    • How long is the speech? Are you using presentation software such as PowerPoint or do you need visuals or props? How many sources are required?
Percentage of time on this step: 5%

Step 2: Select and focus topic. Begin preliminary research.

  • Brainstorm topics (from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) until you find one that truly interests you.
  • Do some preliminary searching on the Internet or in the libraries to find material that can serve as background and evidence for your ideas.
Percentage of time on this step: 10%

Step 3: Begin to organize or outline.

Percentage of time on this step: 10%

Step 4: Draft any visuals. Gather additional research.

Percentage of time on this step: 20%

Step 5: Write out talking points.

  • Start with your most important points.
    • What is the take home message you want your audience to understand, believe, accept, or do after they hear your speech? Write this out in one or two sentences.
    • What evidence supports your take home message?
  • Draft transitions (pdf from Academic Success Centre) between your thoughts. Include attention-getting ideas:
    • Novelty (an unusual fact or surprising image)
    • Conflict (an opposing viewpoint on the issue)
    • Humor (an amusing play on words or exaggerated remark)
    • Suspense, such as asking a provocative question
  • Determine how you are going to organize your thoughts as you speak.
  • Make an appointment with the Academic Success Centre to go over your outline for structure, clarity, and tone.
Percentage of time on this step: 10%

Step 6: Plan out timing.

  • Add timing to your talking points.
  • Revise your talking points, PowerPoint slides (from TED) and transitions.
  • Delete talking points and/or PowerPoint slides that are not crucial. Paring down or eliminating content will enhance clarity and improve the speech overall.
Percentage of time on this step: 5%

Step 7: Rehearse for content and timing.

  • Be aware of your body position, foot placement, breathing, and eye movement.
  • Videotape or record a rehearsal to identify problems and distracting habits. You can check out video equipment from Educational Technology Services.
    • Avoid reading every word -- you should be presenting, not reading.
    • Avoid common verbal habits such as 'um', 'like', 'you know', and 'kinda'.
  • Practice your speech many times until you feel comfortable with the content and timing.
  • Review the scoring or evaluation guide provided by your professor to be sure you are meeting the requirements of the assignment.
Percentage of time on this step: 10%

Step 8: Rehearse in front of an audience.

  • Gather a few friends or classmates and deliver your speech. You can book a group study room in the library for this.
    • Try to avoid the following common behaviors: fidgeting, looking at the computer or screen not at audience, rustling your papers, chewing gum, gesturing too much, or pacing.
    • Ask for feedback on your delivery (such as eye contact, hand gestures, or speech habits) and content.
    • Ask what they identified as the most important points. Do these match yours?
  • Edit or revise speech based on the feedback.
Percentage of time on this step: 10%

Step 9: Continue revising. Prepare for any anticipated questions.

  • If your speech includes a question and answer session (from University of Leicester) with your audience, spend some time to anticipate questions and briefly plan answers.
  • Ask for clarification if you don't understand a question when you are presenting.
Percentage of time on this step: 10%

Step 10: Continue to rehearse. Get ready to deliver.

  • Make sure you have all your materials together including note cards, outlines, visuals, handouts, bibliography, and PowerPoint on a flash drive.
  • Be aware you may have feelings of anxiety (from University of Iowa). This is very common and a few strategies may help including:
    • Arrive early.
    • Practice on the day of your speech so you are comfortable with the content.
Percentage of time on this step: 10%