This is How to Read a Speech


To Read a Speech or not to Read a Speech is a question many people ask themselves when facing the task of presenting information to any group large or small, business, professional, academic or pleasure. 

If you’ve followed this website for any length of time you know that my opinion on the matter is that only under very special circumstances should you read a speech.

There are times when critical information must be delivered precisely and Reading a Speech guarantees that outcome, usually. On the other hand, frequently the decision to Read a Speech is made based on your fear of embarrassing yourself…for any number of a hundred reasons. But,

In this demanding environment… it is TED after all, Bran Ferren does a terrific job of Reading his Speech. He’s comfortable up on the stage and that’s evident as is his obvious preparedness with the text of the speech. He occassionally looks away from his text for long periods of time, directly addressing the audience. Eye contact…important!

His demeanor is relaxed, his voice is steady, his delivery pace is pleasant, his slides are dynamic. OK, that said, the typical complaints that I have with Reading a Speech are still evident. Here are a few:

  • He never moves about the stage because he can’t or won’t leave his Speech which is sitting on top of the lectern. Stage movement is a plus when delivering your message it keeps the audience focused on You. 
  • Although his Reading is good, it still sounds like “Reading.” One result is that it can easily let the audience drift away from you & your message. Disconnection is not a desirable result.
  • His demeanor appears quite calm, but frankly I like a bit more tension in a Speaker, and that comes from stage movement, and grabbing words “on demand” rather then on paper. One more point,
  • Those BIG, beautiful images projected on the Giant TED screen above & behind him…well don’t count on having that available to you unless of course, you’re speaking at TED. Prepare any Keynote or Powerpoint presentation for the size of the room, the size of the audience, and the type of equipment available to you.

My best advice is to work with a Speaking Teacher or Coach that you’re comfortable with, someone you trust. Get past the “Need to Read a Speech” and you’ll become more effective in presenting your message, developing more support and followers along your Goal-seeking journey.

Now, as another clear example of an acceptable Reading a Speech, visit this TED Presentation at least momentarily. His personal style is very pleasant, personable, even comfortable to listen to, and yet I feel that the same comments stated above, also apply here. The applause at the end, which is light but polite is, I feel, more a reflection of the Audience interest in the Subject itself, not the Speaker.

My new e-course at can give you a solid foundation for a lifetime of confident and effective Speaking. Check it out here.

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