Resource 10: Oral Delivery Cheat Sheet


Oral Delivery Cheat Sheet

Oral delivery techniques are what public speakers use to bring their content to life. Vocal and physical moves are used to help the audience feel and visualize what you are trying to communicate, which helps build a connection to the audience. The best delivery is the simplest delivery: instead of trying too hard or overthinking what they are doing, the speaker is wholeheartedly in the moment and developing a relationship with the audience. It is important to be aware of any habits you may have that distract from your message and practice vocal and physical techniques to the point where you internalize them.

Tips for Eye Contact:

  • Shrink the room. Never scan the entire audience. Choose a few people to spend some time with (preferably people who are smiling and nodding), who are on different sides of the room.
  • Change your eye contact when you change ideas. Don’t move your eyes around too much.
  • When looking at people, see them. This is ideal, but if that makes you nervous, then look at their shoulder or chin. Make sure your focal point isn’t too high (it’s usually lower than you think).
  • Look at people until you get them to react. Make it your goal to get them to nod or make a face.
  • Know your “thinking habits”. When you are thinking of an idea, do you look to the side, up, or down? Work on looking straight forward, even when you are thinking.
  • Keep your eyes up at the end and own that final moment.

Tips for Gestures:

  • Gestures should highlight or emphasize your points.
  • Vary your hand gestures.
    • One-handed circle gesture – use when you’re thinking or telling a story
    • One-handed open palm gesture – use when making a point
    • Counting gestures – use to outline numbers of points or outlines
    • Chopping gesture – use when making an argument
    • Paint a picture gesture – help audience visualize big/little, start/end, something growing
  • Keep your gestures high enough (chest-level) and strong enough (not floppy).
  • Put your hands down when you aren’t using them.
  • Never clutch your paper or a podium with both hands.

Types of Vocal Tone:

  • Your tone should match your content – look and sound serious for serious content, look and sound passionate or excited for positive content.
  • To help vary your vocal tone, there are different “colors of your voice” that you can work with:
    • Red: energetic, passionate, excited
    • Gray: forceful, stern, urgent
    • Blue: calm, factual, serious
    • Orange: kind, warm, encouraging
    • Green: casual, breezy, conversational

Avoiding Bad Habits:

  • Tackling filler words is all about preparation and being okay with silences/pauses.
  • To reduce filler words, slow down your overall speed and pause in between ideas.
  • It helps to shorten your sentences and to make your voice go down (“landing”) at the ends of sentences (as opposed to going up like a question), and make sure it doesn’t end quieter.
  • Have a clear endpoint for your thoughts. It’s okay to stop.
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