Speakers Checklist

by Chris Widener

Prior to the Speech


Preparing your speech:
Topic – If at all possible speak only on what you know well.
Time limit – This gives you a guide for what you can include.


Introduction – STRONG introduction!
Body – Simple, understandable, and memorable.
Conclusion – Bring them to where you want them to be.
Anecdotes/ stories – Appropriate, not too many, carefully placed.
Facts/ information – Not too much, enough to convince.


Formal – College graduation, staunch.
Informal – Small classroom, interactive.
Informational – To inform only.
Selling/ Persuading – To move the listener to action.
Motivational/ Inspirational – To move the listener to believe.


Transcript – Boring, few can pull it off.
Notes – The best, especially if you know your material well.
Without notes – Too much room for TROUBLE.
Powerpoint etc. – Just know the pro’s and cons. Backup!
Goals – What, exactly, do you want to accomplish with this speech?


Understand your audience:
Size – Will determine style.
Age(s) – May determine style.
Background – Determines understanding, bias, etc.
Profession(s) – May determine understanding, bias, etc.
Why they are there – May affect receptivity, level of response.
What will have happened just before your speech? – Atmosphere.
What will be happening right after your speech? – Expectations.
Level of expertise in the subject – Know how exact you must be.
Formality of dress – Don’t be underdressed or overdressed.
Decision-makers – Are they? Can this group of people act on information?

Other notes:
Rest – Get enough.
Eat – Very light.
Dress – Always be dressed in the top 10%



During the Speech


Get their attention – Make them think they should listen.


“Insider-eese” – Make sure they understand.
Education – Don’t speak on a different level.
Slang – Only for effect, the rest MUST go.
Pronunciation – Work on clear pronunciation.
Clarity – They need to hear you.
Speed – Delicate balance, don’t slur words.
Pace – Change it up, it keeps them listening.
Volume – See pace.
Ums and ahs – Ummm, it’s best to eliminate them.
Pet words – Brings diversity if used selectively.


Keep it simple – best to move too little than too much.

Relax – People are looking at your face, relax.
Drink water – Dry-mouth can ruin a speech.
Eyes – Keep them moving, like you’re checking your mirrors.
Face – Smile! Except at a funeral.


Where to put them – Podium, pockets, folded.
Don’t move them too much – Distracting.
Gestures – Make sure they match your words.
Feet – Steady, purposeful movement.
Shoulders – Good posture helps confidence and breathing.


Formal/ Informal – Affects the way you go about the speech.




Questions – Best to hold them until the end.
Feedback – Controlled, call on hands.
Activities – Always takes longer than you count on.

Reading them:
It’s all in the eyes – Where are they looking? Not you? Bored.
Changing midstream – If you’ve lost them, improvise a bit.



What do you want from it? End powerfully. Call for something.

After the Speech

Written – Best. Controlled.
From the floor – Risky. Be sure you are good.

Individuals – If you can, talk to as many as possible. Future clients.
Exchange numbers – Always get the contact information!
Follow-up – Call, write, email. Don’t just think about them.
Company/ group that hired or sponsored you
Pleased? – Ask how you might improve.
Not-pleased? – Make it up to them. Ask about improvement.
Sales – Ask for the sale.
Follow-up – Same as with individuals.
Letter of recommendation – Get one for your records.


Chris Widener is a popular speaker and author who has shared the podium with US Presidents, helping individuals and organizations succeed in every area of their lives and achieve their dreams.