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Evaluating A Speech

In this article, we will study and learn from Andrea Ghez describing "The Hunt for a Supermassive Black Hole."
I CC'd my speaking colleague Andrew Dlugan from British Columbia who writes a must-read blog on public speaking.
As you review, keep in mind the following ideas:
  • general purpose
  • specific purpose, getting to the point, relevance
  • If the title was "The Hunt for a Supermassive Black Hole" then everything must relate to it
  • Was the reference to difference size telescopes relevant? Was the level of detail and time spent proportionate to the overall presentation time? Adaptive optics? Could these ideas have been covered to make the point about improving Earth-based observation with less time?
  • Opening
  • metaspeaking
    • how often did the speaker refer to speaking about the subject and what is to follow instead of just delivering? Did the thing to follow actually follow? Did you recognize it when it arrived or did you forget that it was to follow? By the time it arrived, if you forgot that it was to follow, then what use was it to earlier say that it was to follow?
    • listen for "... the reason this is interesting..." and ask yourself if the reasons given are interesting to you. To whom are they interesting? To you the listen or to the speaker? In general, avoid phrases like "this is really interesting" and "This is a funny story". Let the audience decide.
  • what affect might adrenaline have on the presentation
  • speaking speed vs word efficiency
    • could the same idea be communicated with fewer words?
  • stomping on audience laughter and thinking
    • Did Andrea allow the audience time to absorb?
  • vocal variety and characteristics
    • Was there vocal variety and what about it?
    • Was there something about the vocal variety or characteristics that worked for you, or not? What worked; what didn't? Was her voice congruent at all times or did it seem to stick out incongruently for you?
    • If there was lots of vocal variety and it still didn't work for you, then how useful is the phrase "use vocal variety"? Let's seek more specific descriptions for the charactistics of the voice. How can we describe how to achieve vocal characteristics that work, in a way that the speaker can internalize and manifest.
    • What characteristic of Andrea's voice stands out from all others?
    • Compare the vocal qualities and authenticity of Andrea and Clifford Stoll. What do you hear? As you listen, do you notice any differences in the rapport you feel with each speaker? Why is it happening for you? How could you provide a speaker feedback so that they could speak in a way that caused you to feel more rapport?

For me, Andrea's delighted curiosity about black holes was infectious. I wound up watching a bunch of YouTube videos about black holes (some of those black holes were ON YouTube, but I leave that for another commentary on valuable content)... For me, that made her presentation a success.

Craig Senior

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