Make your own free website on


Regardless of the style of delivery you choose,  in most cases a speaker is there to communicate an idea to the audience not put on a show.  Although much has been written and said about what makes a good speech delivery, it is often true that too many tips worry a speaker and puts his or her mind on trivial components of delivery rather than the essence of the message.  Although there is always room for increased professionalism, the basic  facts of good delivery are this – whatever assists in communicating your ideas effectively to your audience is good; whatever detracts from your message or your credibility as a speaker is bad.  With this in mind, the four "C"s  of extemporaneous delivery are contact, clarity, control distractions, and confidence.

1.     Contact

        Typically referred to as eye-contact, making contact with the audience means looking at them much the same way you would if you were engaging them in conversation.  Contact allows the audience to do their job as listeners by providing you the speaker with feedback.  The idea is to talk to your audience as much as possible.  The more contact you can make with your audience, the more sincere and credible you will appear. The best speakers will make contact for 1-3 seconds with each individual audience member (depending somewhat on the size of the audience). It is sometimes easier to make direct contact with a few "friendly" members of the audience or people in the audience with whom you are already acquainted.   Remember that even in conversation with people, eye contact is really more like scanning the face than staring into the eyes.  Speakers who are extremely nervous looking at the faces of the audience can simply scan the room gauging the overall posture and demeanor of the audience members (rather than looking over their heads which tends to exacerbate a speaker's feelings of nervousness); looking down a little tends to "ground" the speaker.   Remember that the more familiar you are with your material, the easier it will be to make eye contact. Even speakers who are reading from a manuscript (formal style) need to make frequent eye contact of at least several seconds at a time. Pauses are the perfect time to make contact with your audience.

2.     Clarity

        Speakers must be as loud, clear, and articulate as is necessary for the entire audience to hear and comprehend.  Appropriate rate and use of pauses assists audience comprehension.  A natural speaking voice and vocal variety encourages positive listening responses. Your normal conversational voice is perfect for most speaking situations.   Rate refers to how quickly or slowly you speak. Too slow a rate and your speech will drag, too quick a rate and you will be unintelligible.  Pauses before main points and ideas you wish to emphasize help make your speech more clear. Due to excitement or nervousness, many people inadvertently speed up their speaking rate during a speech. If this is the case, remember to practice even more frequent pauses in your speech. Volume should be loud enough for the audience members furthest away from you to hear well. This will depend upon the size of the room, any background noise present, and whether or not you are using sound equipment. Variety refers to the changes in pitch; the opposite of vocal variety is a monotone voice. Keep your delivery interesting by varying the tone of your voice, just as if would if you were telling an interesting story to friends. The language you use in your delivery should convey respect for your audience. In most cases, slang, swearing and off color remarks are inappropriate. Also, be respectful of your audience's level of knowledge of your subject; do not "talk down" to your audience, but do not use technical term which might be unfamiliar to them either. The language you use should be appropriate to the speaking purpose.


3.     Control distractions

        Any verbal or nonverbal behavior that attracts the audience’s attention to that behavior rather than the message forms a distraction.   Basically, the way in which you stand and the body movements you make should not distract from what you are saying. Repetitive and useless mannerism need to minimized; one “um” is not distracting, but repetitive use of the utterance is.  Other examples of distracting mannerisms might be tapping the feet, playing with hair or objects, drumming fingers, walking back and forth, shaking the podium, chewing gum, etc. In general, it is best to stand a little taller, be a little more still, and make your gestures a little more meaningful than you do in everyday conversation. But remember, a speaker who is expending too much thought and energy on what to do with his or her hands will come across unnatural or worse.   Most nervous ticks and gestures are hardly noticed by audiences, especially audiences who are interested in what you have to say. You can talk to yourself in the mirror and see if you have any disruptive mannerisms. 

4.     Confidence

        The experience of your speech begins in the minds of the listeners from the moment that they realize you are the speaker.  It is thus important to begin to establish your credibility at this time – before you even speak.  Walk to the front of the room with confidence, even if it is pretend confidence.  Establish yourself behind the podium and wait before you begin to speak.  Take all the time you need to arrange your notes and prepare for your first remark; you will look calm and composed rather than scattered and rushed.  If you make contact with the audience at this point you will see their impression of you as a confident speaker reflected in their feedback, possibly even making you feel confident, too!  Never tell your audience you are a poor speaker, complain about being nervous, or apologize for mistakes you might make.  Respect this advise at the conclusion of your speech as well.




Delivery Style

Delivery style refers to the way in which you connect the preparation to the expression of your speech. The three delivery styles - impromptu, formal, and extemporaneous - are basically different ways to structure the relationship between you and your notes. You will want to choose the style that best suits your material, your speaking situation, and to some extent your skill.



Sometimes known as speaking "off the cuff" or "off the top of your head", impromptu speaking involves deciding what you are going to say just before you say it. Speakers who are very familiar with their material, are speaking on very informal occasions, or want to convey as sense of spontaneity will often use the impromptu style. Although there is no formal organization involved, the impromptu speech should be organized clearly and listener friendly. The "tell 'em what you are going to say, say it, tell 'em what you said" pattern can still apply. The speaker should organize his or her main points in her head and try as best as she can to stay on track. Sticking to two or three points and articulating those points at the very beginning of the address will help both the speaker and the audience remember what the speaker plans to cover.

The benefits of the impromptu delivery style are mainly the sense of rapport with the audience and flexibility with the material a speaker has. An impromptu speaker can maintain continuous eye contact with the audience and can chose to include or exclude material depending upon the feedback from the audience.



The formal (sometimes called manuscript) delivery style involves preparing the speech material word for word. The speech is then delivered either from memory or by reading from a script or teleprompter. A speaker using the formal delivery style must be careful to maintain eye contact and vocal variety so as not to bore his or her listeners by appearing to read to them.

The benefits of a formal style of delivery are primarily that the speaker has the maximum amount of control over what he or she is going to say. The formal style is most appropriate when a speaker has to be very precise or the wording of a speech must be chosen very carefully.



Extemporaneous speaking requires the speaker to prepare an outline of the speech but come up with the specific wording at the time of delivery. Notes brought to the podium will remind the speaker which point is next. An extemporaneous speaker will practice his or her speech many slightly different ways within the same overall framework. It is best to have your introduction and conclusion worked out precisely to maximize control of the beginning and end of the speech

Extemporaneous speaking combines some of the benefits of both the formal and impromptu styles. Like the formal style, the speaker has some control over the material; he or she can gather material, organize it and practice it before the speech. Like the impromptu style, the speaker has some flexibility. Because the specific words used to express ideas are being chosen at the time of the speech, the speaker can more easily adapt to feedback and create a sense of connection with the audience. For the same reason, the extemporaneous speaker will appear conversational and sincere.



Guest book /Public Speaking / Student Bulletin / Home Page / Hot list / About Alisa Shubb /

Copyright Alisa M. Shubb, 1999

This page hosted by Get you ownFree Home Page