One of the best ways to become a better presenter is to spend time listening to great speeches. While you shouldn’t aim to mimic someone else’s style, you can pick up tips from watching other speakers.
When watching presentations to learn from them, it helps to have a strategy in mind by which to evaluate them. We’d suggest breaking the presentation down into the following four categories: content, organization, delivery, and effectiveness. These categories form the C.O.D.E. of a great presentation.
The following four resources are great places to start perusing some of the best content from some of the best public speakers. As you learn from and explore great speeches using the C.O.D.E., you might be surprised at how much this practice elevates your own abilities as a speaker.
The TED organization promotes presentations as an effective platform for spreading ideas. While many speech bank resources consist of mostly historical speeches, the TED website features great presentations about present-day issues. You can sign up for an account and select the topics that interest you most and have them delivered to your email regularly.
When you have speeches sitting in your inbox, you increase your chance of actually watching them.
American Rhetoric boasts a “database of and index to 5000+ full text, audio and video versions of public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, other recorded media events, and a declaration or two.” Check out their list of the top 100 speeches. Most of these top speeches include linked mp3 files and pdf transcripts, as well.
Whatever type of presentation you have coming up, you can reference a database of examples for that specific occasion. You can also subscribe to their Vital Speech of the Week email for free.
Finally, we suggest History.com as a great speech resource. This database includes many video links as well as audio. In addition, the page offers some of the most popular speeches with the length clearly displayed. That means you can choose which speech to listen to based on the time you have available.
If making time to listen to speeches seems too complicated, consider it as personal development. After all, learning from great speeches can be just as helpful as reading that new book everyone is talking about.
Find ways to creatively squeeze speech-watching into your schedule. Maybe you watch one during your lunch break once a week. Or you could swap out listening to a speech for the music you normally listen to on your commute a few times. If you have team meetings, consider focusing on one presentation a month that informs both your field or company as well as your team’s presentation skills. You could even let members of your team choose the featured presentations on rotation.
However you choose to do it, just make sure to find ways to listen to great presentations. It’s a vital part of becoming a better presenter.
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