Public Speaking

“For he is the best orator who by speaking both teaches and delights and moves the minds of his hearers. To teach them is his duty, to delight them is creditable to him, to move them is indispensable.” Cicero

Resources for public speaking.

  1. Speech Outline.
  2. How to Start a Speech.
  3. TED’s secret to great public speaking, Chris Anderson, Curator of TED.
  4. The 7 secrets of the greatest speakers in history.
  5. Coursera course: Introduction to Public Speaking.
  6. Check out Chris Anderson’s Udemy course on how to do public speaking.
  7. How to tell great stories.
  8. Outline of Coursera course by Dr. McGarrity of U of W.

Great Public Speaking

One thing I’ve seen in many great speeches is that it’s all about story telling. The speaker tells multiple excellent stories and after each story, he teaches a lesson that is illustrated by that story. It’s a very simple but very powerful way to do public speaking.

KTA: Unlike in written communication where repetition is not good, in a speech or oral communication, deliberate, strategic repetition is essential for clear communication.

In his TED talk above, “TED’s secret to great public speaking”, Chris Anderson says,
“The task of a speaker is to build an idea in the audience’s mind. To do that effectively in a talk, he says, do the following:

  1. Focus on one major idea.
  2. Give your listeners a reason to care. – Stir their curiosity. If you can reveal a disconnect in someone’s worldview, he says, they will feel the need to bridge that knowledge gap.
  3. Build your idea with familiar concepts. Use concepts that your audience already understands. Don’t use your language, but your audience’s language to communicate to them.
  4. Make your idea worth sharing. Who does this idea benefit? If that idea can help other people, it is worth sharing.”

Check out this Joel Osteen talk (and most of his talks) to see how he focuses on one idea and uses example after example to flush that idea. He rarely introduces a very broad idea.

A great TED talk.


6 Rhetoric Devices

Speechwriter, Simon Lancaster, one of the world’s top speechwriters, teaches 6 rhetoric devices for speaking like a leader.

  1. Three breathless sentences. You speak three sentences without taking a breath.
  2. Three sentences in which the opening clause is repeated. E.g. I love California, I love Palm Springs, and I love you guys (pointing to the audience). Another example is, Winston Churchill. “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
  3. Balancing statements. E.g. “Ask not what your country can do for youask what you can do for your country.”
  4. Metaphor.
  5. Exaggeration.
  6. Rhyme.

***Remember the rule of three in rhetoric (public speaking). When you put your argument in threes, it sounds more convincing. The rule of three is found all over rhetoric or public speaking.


Public Speaking is Rhetoric

Rhetoric is essentially public speaking.

Rhetorical situation: Topic, Setting, Audience, Occasion, Credibility, etc.

The Cannon of Rhetoric
The 5 parts or canons of rhetoric (public speaking)
1. Invention (Coming up with what to say, the content).
2. Arrangement
3. Style
4. Memory
5. Delivery

The medium of speech: Write for the ear, not the eye. Don’t treat speaking as writing.

Check out:


Preparing / Planning a Speech.

Mind Map Ideas for your speech.
Outline your speech.

Public Speaking Articles