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Public Speaking: Common Mistakes in Delivery


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About this Lesson

  • Type: Video Tutorial
  • Length: 4:09
  • Media: Video/mp4
  • Use: Watch Online & Download
  • Access Period: Unrestricted
  • Download: MP4 (iPod compatible)
  • Size: 44 MB
  • Posted: 07/01/2009

This lesson was selected from a broader, comprehensive course, Public Speaking. This course and others are available from Thinkwell, Inc. The full course can be found at The full course covers getting started, preparing a speech, presenting the speech, audience considerations, types of speeches, small group communication, and more. The course features three renowned professors: Jess K. Alberts of Arizona State University, Brenda J. Allen of the University of Colorado at Denver, and Dan West of Ohio State University.

Jess K. Alberts is a professor of communication at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University, where she was Director from 1995 until 2004. She currently serves as Director of the Conflict Transformation Project and is an associate with Project for Wellness and Work-life. Her research appears regularly in academic journals, and she recently co-authored “Human Communication in Society”. Undergraduates at Arizona State honored her classroom teaching skills with a "Last Lecture Award," and she has twice been a finalist for Professor of the Year at ASU. A nationally known speaker on interpersonal communication, Professor Alberts has given numerous presentations across the country on humor, conflict, and developing and maintaining a passionate life.

Brenda J. Allen is departmental chair and a professor of communication at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, where she teaches organizational communication. She has published numerous articles and book chapters on organizational communication and diversity and she serves on the editorial boards of several communication journals. In 2004, she authored the book “Difference Matters: Communicating Social Identity”. While at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, she has been recognized with the First Annual Award for Outstanding Achievement for Commitment to Diversity and she received the Francine Meritt Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Lives of Women in Communication from the Women’s Caucus of the National Communication Association. Professor Allen is frequently invited to speak at community and professional events.

Dan West is the John A. Cassese Director of Forensics at Ohio University. Previously, he was a distinguished lecturer at Rice University, where he also acted as Director of Forensics. Under his direction, the team consistently placed in the top ten at national debate tournaments. While at Rice, Prof. West won the Outstanding Faculty Associate for Brown College (1999) and the award for Outstanding Teaching in the Humanities and Social Sciences (four times). He is well known for using his engaging speaking style in a variety of settings; his annual presentation of the Rice University Alcohol Policy to the freshman class was always a hit.

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Fortunately, you can avoid most of these and other common mistakes that people make when they deliver a speech. It's interesting to note that most of these are nonverbal. So let's look at some of the most common mistakes people make in delivery.
One mistake is poor use of voice. And this is an extremely vital aspect of public speaking. They make mistakes in the pace of their presentation, the beginning of the speech, the body and the end, long pauses, like you just saw, or misplaced pauses, too slow, or much too fast. Beginning speakers often speak quickly because they want to finish. They don't want to bore or intrude. They begin and end with a drooping kind of fading use of their voice. Remember all good things must come to an end, and all is well that ends well. But those who kind of... And that's it.
There is also volume. Some people speak so soft you can hardly hear what they say. Then others almost shout in your ears. Then, um, well like, you know, um, like, people who, um, use, okay, okay like, okay, well, um vocal interrupters.
In addition, people are guilty of poor eye contact, where they look almost anywhere but at you. Maybe they look at their notes, or they seem to be staring directly at you, and only you.
Then there are those who use their notes in very distracting ways. They are kind of fumbling through, and you're wondering, "Are we going to play cards, or what is going on?" And perhaps they drop their notes, pick them back up, and because they haven't numbered them, shuffle again to try to find their place.
Some people "mispronunciate" words. Then there are those who seem to have lack of focus or enthusiasm. They kind of stand there and talk to you about something they find very interesting and they want to share with you. Then when they have presentation aids, they don't know how to use it. "Where is the power button? Where is the volume level? How do I adjust this overhead, pulling the table back and forward?"
Some of them use too many words to say something that is the one thing that they're trying to say, but they are still using too many words, and you're wondering if they're going to get to the point about using a lot of words in a lengthy statement about the words that they are using.
They also will have cluttered overheads. They put them up, and you are wondering, "Am I supposed to really read that?" Or they have nine million colors and designs for one table. Frequently they are fixated on the presentation aid, rather than on the audience.
Those are just some of the common mistakes in delivery. I am telling you these things not to frighten you, but because hopefully an awareness of the most common mistakes can help you avoid them for yourself.
Presenting the Speech ! Delivering the Speech [page 2 of 2]
Common Mistakes in Delivery
Copyright © 2001, Thinkwell Corp. All Rights Reserved. 82642/18/02
Presenting the Speech ! Delivering the Speech [page 1 of 2]
Common Mistakes in Delivery
Copyright © 2001, Thinkwell Corp. All Rights Reserved. 82642/18/02

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