Speakers Checklist

by Chris Widener

Prior to the Speech

Preparing your speech: Topic – If at all possible speak only on what you know well. Time limit – This gives you a guide for what you can include.

Speakers ChecklistStructure: Introduction – STRONG introduction! Body – Simple, understandable, and memorable. Conclusion – Bring them to where you want them to be. Anecdotes/ stories – Appropriate, not too many, carefully placed. Facts/ information – Not too much, enough to convince.

Style: Formal – College graduation, staunch. Informal – Small classroom, interactive. Informational – To inform only. Selling/ Persuading – To move the listener to action. Motivational/ Inspirational – To move the listener to believe.

Presentation: Transcript – Boring, few can pull it off. Notes – The best, especially if you know your material well. Without notes – Too much room for TROUBLE. Powerpoint etc. – Just know the pro’s and cons. Backup! Goals – What, exactly, do you want to accomplish with this speech?

Understand your audience: Size – Will determine style. Age(s) – May determine style. Background – Determines understanding, bias, etc. Profession(s) – May determine understanding, bias, etc. Why they are there – May affect receptivity, level of response. What will have happened just before your speech? – Atmosphere. What will be happening right after your speech? – Expectations. Level of expertise in the subject – Know how exact you must be. Formality of dress – Don’t be underdressed or overdressed. Decision-makers – Are they? Can this group of people act on information?

Other notes: Rest – Get enough. Eat – Very light. Dress – Always be dressed in the top 10%

During the Speech

Introduction: Get their attention – Make them think they should listen.

Language: “Insider-eese” – Make sure they understand. Education – Don’t speak on a different level. Slang – Only for effect, the rest MUST go. Pronunciation – Work on clear pronunciation. Clarity – They need to hear you. Speed – Delicate balance, don’t slur words. Pace – Change it up, it keeps them listening. Volume – See pace. Ums and ahs – Ummm, it’s best to eliminate them. Pet words – Brings diversity if used selectively.

Body: Keep it simple – best to move too little than too much.

Mouth: Relax – People are looking at your face, relax. Drink water – Dry-mouth can ruin a speech. Eyes – Keep them moving, like you’re checking your mirrors. Face – Smile! Except at a funeral.

Hands: Where to put them – Podium, pockets, folded. Don’t move them too much – Distracting. Gestures – Make sure they match your words. Feet – Steady, purposeful movement. Shoulders – Good posture helps confidence and breathing.

Style: Formal/ Informal – Affects the way you go about the speech.


Participation: Questions – Best to hold them until the end. Feedback – Controlled, call on hands. Activities – Always takes longer than you count on.

Reading them: It’s all in the eyes – Where are they looking? Not you? Bored. Changing midstream – If you’ve lost them, improvise a bit.


What do you want from it? End powerfully. Call for something.

After the Speech

Questions: Written – Best. Controlled. From the floor – Risky. Be sure you are good.

Follow-up: Individuals – If you can, talk to as many as possible. Future clients. Exchange numbers – Always get the contact information! Follow-up – Call, write, email. Don’t just think about them. Company/ group that hired or sponsored you Pleased? – Ask how you might improve. Not-pleased? – Make it up to them. Ask about improvement. Sales – Ask for the sale. Follow-up – Same as with individuals. Letter of recommendation – Get one for your records.

If you found these tips from Chris Widener of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.


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