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Communication Skills

Communication Skills

This section hosts articles related to public speaking, writing articles/webcopy & presentation skill development. 

Enjoy the articles!


I wouldn’t answer this question as an either or response. I would say yes to both and then some.

I have never taken a class on speech skills offered by a college. Nor have I ever seen one offered in my local college and/or university. There can be advantages to taking the course, as well as disadvantages.

I would expect that the program would only be as good as the instructor’s ability and passion for the subject. I have seen far too many adult educators that aren’t a good fit for what they are teaching. Classroom speaking training sessions often have a reputation of being rather stilted or stale. You would learn the mechanics, which is good, but you may be restricted in the advice and recommendations you get to be help you move to the next level.

Thursday, 18 August 2016 03:07

Should I join speech and debate in highschool?

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 I am involved in other things and don't know if I can find time.  

I think it would be a useful experience, but I am also trying to make nationals for biology Olympiad and do scientific research. Also I'm involved with violin/orchestra and 3 other clubs. The time management dilemma is killing me.


I’ve never liked questions that start with the word ‘should.’ You don’t need our permissionto make your choice.

All things being equal, there could be great value in participating in a speech & debate club. It will help you develop skills and self-confidence that will go a long way in helping you in your journey through life.

Thursday, 18 August 2016 02:54

How can I overcome my fear of public speaking?

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How can I overcome my fear of public speaking?Your question focuses on the fear that you and many people have about public speaking, not how to be a better public speaker. Yet, there lays the answer. As you become a better public speaker, your fear will reduce.

Many people use the acronym FEAR as follows: False Expectations Appearing Real. Fear is only in our minds. What one person fears, another may not. I work in psychiatry. A fellow worker named Mary was absolutely terrified of dealing with patients that got confrontational or aggressive. She would lock herself in the restroom until other staff had dealt with the situation.

Yet at the same time, Mary’s hobby was skydiving! I would certainly be fearful of jumping out of a perfectly good plane, but not Mary.

We aren’t born being afraid of public speaking, its something we develop. If we can become afraid, it is within us to become unafraid. The cure for fear is self-confidence.

So how do you overcome the fear of public speaking? It probably depends on how much time do you have to devote to overcoming the fear; if you are able to financially afford it and do you need to be unafraid by a certain date i.e. you have an upcoming event that you are required to speak at.

Thursday, 18 August 2016 02:29

What are humorous topics to give a speech on?

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What are humorous topics to give a speech on, answered by Rae StonehouseI don’t believe that there is a master list of topics that would be considered humorous. The challenge is that humour is not universal. What is funny in one part of the world may be offensive in another. Even among people that know each other, one person may find something funny, while another may not.

I try to use humour whenever I can in my presentations. My humour tends to be spontaneous. I find something funny to share in situations as they occur. You might consider it to be situational humour. I find it very difficult to craft a humorous speech.

A formula that I learned long ago for creating humorous speeches is as follows: PMF+T=H. Personal Misfortune + Time =Humour. These are stories about disasters in our lives, situations that were out of our control and were likely quite stressful at the time. As time passes, our memories evolve and we tend to forget the pain and other emotions that we experienced at the time. These are the stories that we often tell when our families get together, or perhaps at work over coffee. Sometimes we even start to embellish our story so that in time they become quite humorous and may even contain a grain of truth.

Some advise that I learned from a fellow Toastmaster many years ago was “Never let the truth get in the way of telling a good story!”

Thursday, 18 August 2016 02:12

What is a non technical presentation?

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 As far as I know, a non technical presentation is one where you create it for delivery to a non technical audience.

It could be a presentation about a subject that is quite technical and only easily understood by someone with a background in that particular topic. The task is to take the technical content and recreate it for the so-called layman i.e. someone who doesn’t have a background in the particular subject.

Nothing prevents you from using modern technology such as a data projector, lap top and a PowerPoint presentation. However, they shouldn’t be the focus of your presentation, the content should be.

as originally answered on

 Its interesting that you refer to the art of public speaking. There really is art involved in being an effective, dynamic public speaker.

Like any other endeavour in life, one has to learn to walk before they run. The same thing applies to becoming an effective public speaker. You need to spend time with the fundamentals of public speaking. These include: speech organization; how to create a speech that people will want to listen to; how to paint pictures with words; developing your vocal variety, stage management and many more. All these lead to developing your self-confidence.

 How to Say It? Good question! The number four project is designed to help you experience the difference between crafting your speech for the spoken work verses the written word. Is there really a difference? Most certainly!

When you write prose, you use punctuation marks in your story to let your reader know extra information that they need to understand the written material. A ? lets the reader know that a question is being asked. An ! at the end of a sentence would indicate that the preceding sentence has some importance. As readers, if we aren’t clear or are confused about something we have just read, we can usually easily go back and reread the previous section for clarification.

Monday, 15 August 2016 01:51

What distinguishes a good speech?

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 What distinguishes a good speech? Article by Rae Stonehouse.Simply put, a good speech is one that achieves its purpose. I will add the caveat that it is one that has been received by the majority of your listening audience as being good.

As a speaker, we have quite a bit of control as to the preparation, the organization and the delivery of the speech. We strive to be present and in the moment to deliver the best speech that we can, or at least we should be.

We don’t have any control as to how the audience, specifically individual members of the audience, receive and perceive our message. From our perspective as speakers from the stage, we may see lots of smiling faces that seem to be hanging on every word we say. However, in any audience, there will be people who are not ‘in the moment.” They may be focussing on something all together different. Perhaps a personal crisis going on in their life.

They may even have taken offense at a point or a comment that you made and are turning it over and over in their head. The final decision is up to them as to whether they believe that you delivered a great speech, or not.

Sunday, 14 August 2016 01:20

How do I deliver a good impromptu speech?

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How do I deliver a good impromptu speech. Article by Rae StonehouseFirstly, you need to develop your all-round public speaking skills so that when the opportunity arises, you have the ability and the self-confidence to deliver an impromptu speech. Secondly, you need to say something that is worth your audience’s time to listen to.

Let me clarify impromptu speaking scenarios for anyone reading this response. Here are some examples of impromptu speaking opportunities:

· The scheduled speaker is unavailable

· You are sitting on a panel answering questions from the audience

· You are fielding questions after your own talk

· You are being interviewed on television, radio, webinar, or telephone

· You are invited (at the last moment) to say a few words at a company gathering

· You are asked to provide a brief status report for your project at a department meeting

· You are motivated to join the debate at the parent association meeting for your child’s school

· You decide to give an unplanned toast at an event with family or friends


Accountants & Public Speaking: Article by Rae Stonehouse.It doesn’t really matter if you are a funeral director, a tow truck driver, a cosmetician or even an accountant, the same rules apply to becoming an engaging speaker.

The first two caveats are likely that you have to something worthwhile talking about and secondly you need an audience i.e. somebody who is interested or could benefit from your message.

The secret to becoming an engaging speaker is to be confident in your speaking. Darren Lacroix, the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking, often says that the secret to becoming confident in your speaking is “stagetime, stagetime, stagetime” which can also be interpreted as “practice, practice, practice!”

Any local Toastmasters club will give you ample opportunities to hone your speaking skills and in turn increase your self-confidence. Fellow club members will provide constructive feedback that will help hone your skills. As a 22 year member of Toastmasters, so far, I have certainly benefitted from the opportunities that my club membership has provided. I have also accepted many speaking opportunities out in the public that also continue to help me hone my speaking skills.

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