Although I personally regard polishing your delivery as far less important than working on your content, structure, and maybe even slides—your slides, to a great extent, determine your delivery—I still think delivery is a subject important enough for a separate part. This is simply because delivery is what your audience sees and hears in the end. In the end, they hear a voice that's either confident and strong or weak and crumbling. They see a person whose body language projects either passion or indifference.

It is certainly true that preparation matters a great deal, and I'm not going to take any of my earlier words back here. At the same time, on many occasions, I've witnessed speakers who went onstage unprepared and sometimes without any slides at all and yet gave very powerful talks. Certain people are able to speak with conviction without much preparation and can still shake the audience. How do they do it? It is said that they do it “by the power of their personality,” that they have “charisma” or “chutzpah”—but what does that mean exactly? On the other hand, sometimes the talk seems well prepared and the speaker obviously knows what he or she needs to say. The only problem is that the talk still comes out pointless and boring. Again, the question is, “How do they do it?” (although this time with a slightly different intonation).

NOTE By no means am I alone here in my focus on delivery. Public speaking is, perhaps, one of the oldest ...

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