Through my time at Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) and college, I have had my fair share of public speaking opportunities. These experiences have allowed me to witness great speeches, and not so great speeches. Here are three tips to help make your next speaking event successful.


  1. Know your speaking strengths

Speakers often have a style that works best for them. Knowing which type of public speaking you will be most comfortable with will make the presentation feel more natural. The four types of public speaking are manuscript, memorization, impromptu, and extemporaneous. In a manuscript speech, the presenter is able to read their speech off of a script. In a memorization speech, the presenter delivers their speech verbatim from memory after significant preparation time.  For an impromptu speech, the presenter does not prepare a script in advance. Impromptu speeches are common during competitive debates. Extemporaneous speeches are a mix between memorization and impromptu. This means that the presenter knows and understands the speech material, but left room to adjust their material as they see fit.

  1. Utilize graphics effectively

One of the most common mistakes people make when giving a speech has nothing to do with what the speaker is actually saying, but what images are behind them. PowerPoint, Prezi, and other presenting software are meant to add value to what you are saying – not distract from it. See the two examples below of presentation slides to see the difference between effective and ineffective use of graphics.

An example of a POOR PowerPoint slide:


Unprepared is the first thing that comes to mind when I saw this picture. Not only is this presenter breaking the rule of never turning your back to the audience, but the PowerPoint slide is not engaging. The text is too small, there are too many words on one slide, the background is distracting, and it is not at all aesthetically pleasing. This presenter forgot the golden rule of visual aids, which is that they should add value to what you are saying instead of helping you remember what to say.

An example of a GREAT PowerPoint slide:


iPod revenue growth is the first thing that comes to mind when I saw this picture, and I am sure that was Steve Jobs’ intention.  From this picture, I can tell that the speaker is communicating clearly to his audience. The slide draws your attention and is easy to comprehend. Visual aids like this help speakers more effectively engage and communicate with the audience, which is the whole reason to use them!

  1. Practice makes perfect – almost

The key to practicing is to do it just enough to look and sound prepared. Practicing will help speakers work out any unexpected speech issues. However, don’t overdo it. Over practicing could turn your extemporaneous speech into a memorization speech.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our market research services please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at or by calling 1-866-567-5422.