CLARITY of speech is important. In our modern times, multiculturalism and dialectic emphasis can make speech hard to understand. While individualism and grammatical uniqueness should be respected, that does not wave the need for presenters to deliver in a way that allows the audience to fully comprehend and understand what is being said. This need will offer challenges to some presenters but the matter is one they must strive to master. Without making necessary changes in order to make speech ‘legible’ they will become inconsequential as presenters.



  • Video clips and playback can be useful monitoring devices. Ask a colleague to video you delivering a talk and then play it back. A great deal will be revealed in terms of gesture and body language. Included will be elements of visual performance about which you as a presenter were totally unconscious. These might include scratching your arm or bum, picking your nose, sniffing audible, offering inappropriate eye contact and so on. These revelations will help you as a presenter to be more conscious of visual elements (of presentation) about which you had no idea.



  • Look at people. Don’t look over them, under them or around them.
  • Engage people individually and collectively through eye contact. Rest on individuals and cover the audience.
  • Make your eyes friendly, encouraging and inviting.
  • Avoid flat or hostile eyes.
  • Eyes are the most important parts of the anatomy when it comes to gesture.


The syndrome ‘boring voice’, associated with monotone expression is a habit into which it can be easy to lapse. Keeping one’s voice interesting, vibrant and in resonation territory is important,. This is especially the case when topics are seriously challenging. Monotonish voice is a sure fire shut off, negatively impacting the comprehension of listeners.

Nasalisation, that is speaking through one’s nose, can be equally off-putting to listeners. While cultural; and dialectic differences impact on nasal speech, aiming for enunciation to be as clear as possible is important.

Facing the audience can be easily overlooked. When speakers move, speaking side on or even back on to the audience can happen. This is a presentation characteristic that must be avoided.


When speaking, insert punctuation so that the audience ‘hears’ commas, semi colons, and full stops. This is achieved through pause which adds the emphasis punctuation is about.

Pause is a way of emphasising important points that have been made. To pause gives listeners a brief reflective space. In that context ‘pause’ is a way of emphasising elements of speech.

‘Inflection’ is a way of building emphasis and highlighting points that are being made. This adds to the vibrancy of speech and triggers listening reception that helps to make points ‘stand out’ in audience comprehension.


Keep speeches and presentations short. Ideally, no more than 25 minutes. Long and ongoing presentations turn into rambles. Audiences turn off and begin clock watching.

Choose words carefully. They need to fit the audience profile. Presenters should avoid talking up and talking down to audience groups. This will happen if the audience type or group is researched and that is a hallmark of respect for listeners.

When speaking, make whole sentences impactive. Don’t fade away toward the end of sentences and don’t clip statements in a way that reduces their impact and meaning.


My concern is more with the qualities of speaking and LISTENING than with the mere speaking of words. There is speaking and speaking. Listening as a part of the speech platform seems to have gone by the bye. Too often people listen for pause, so they can begin speaking. They listen but don’t hear or comprehend.


When speaking, offer audience members a chance if possible to interact by way of asking questions and sharing their opinions. This kind of workshopping engagement is often far more appealing than audience being subject to an ongoing non-participative presentation.

Consider KEY WORDS on palm size prompt cards to guide in speech presentation. Those speaking without notes and visible paper aids are often more convincing than those dependent on ‘paper’ speeches.


Michael Kingston’s column (“Classrooms no place for phones” Sunday Territorian 10/10) is one of the best and most pertinently relevant pieces on education that has been published in the media on education this year. Mr Kingston is absolutely right in calling for Education Minister Lauren Moss to oversee banning of mobiles in schools for because they distract and detract from teaching and learning activities. Phones have been banned by education departments in most states and the NT should follow suit. The vast majority of territory classroom teachers will applaud Mr Kingston for speaking up on an issue that has dogged and disrupted our classrooms for far too many years.


All the very best to students and teachers returning to schools for the commencement of term four. May the final term of the year be one of great teaching and learning satisfaction. All the very best to our year 12 students who are preparing for their entrance examinations in a few short weeks.


. The school Based Constable program was the best of support programs from its inception in the early 1980’s, until ‘authorities’ started changing the operational model from around 2006. It has never been the same since; it has been totally skewed and rendered almost useless by unnecessary tampering.


The proof of the message imparted by a good presenter is the life changing impact that can happen in and for the lives of others. Words are powerful artefacts of social and cultural expression.


It matters not if your audience is big or small. All those who come to hear you are paying you respect. Respect them in turn by offering the best delivery possible.

Should the development of speech and speaking programs be part of the curriculum available to children and students of all ages? Is ‘speaking and listening’ becoming an extinct form of expression?