Colonel’s Fifty Rules for Public Speaking

11 Apr
April 11, 2016

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Over the years I’ve taken a few public speaking and/or preaching classes; in Bible school, Gordon College, most recently as part of my course of study through Liberty’s seminary. But my all time favorite class? The one I took back in ’92 or ’93 while I was a junior or senior in high school, taught by Tom Jenkins III, or as we all knew him, the Colonel. I loved the class and the way he taught it. He centered it around fifty rules that he put together that we needed to memorize and were graded by; over the years I’ve thought of them often and wished I still had them … and the other week I found my copy going through an old box of papers! Here they are in all of their early nineties glory:

  1. The speaker should always be in the most dominant place in a room.
  2. Never apologize for the speaking situation.
  3. Do not interrupt a group by saying, “May I have your attention, please?”
  4. The most important aspect of public speaking is that there must be a message.
  5. Minimize distractions.
  6. Your voice is your major instrument but you should use all your instruments.
  7. Maximize your assets – first find what they are, and then use them.
  8. Don’t avoid personal illustrations.
  9. Don’t admit any weaknesses; i.e., “I didn’t have enough time,” “I didn’t have enough education.”
  10. Physical rules for delivery:
    1. The outsides of your feet should be even with the outsides of your shoulders.
    2. Back should be relaxed.
    3. Hands should be comfortably by your side.
    4. Head up with eye contact.
    5. Don’t lock your knees.
    6. Put your belt slightly below your navel.
    7. Your weight should be evenly distributed.
  11. Avoid “stupid” truisms.
  12. Don’t violate time limits.
  13. Avoid vocalized pauses at all costs.
  14. Use as few scriptural references as possible and then major on a few words or ideas.
  15. Never say, “I would like to …” Just do it!
  16. “Suit the action to the word and the word to the action.” –Hamlet, Shakespeare.
  17. “Speak the speech … trippingly on the tongue.” –Hamlet, Shakespeare. ARTICULATION!
  18. “Make your deliverance smooth. You must acquire and beget a temperance which gives it smoothness.” –Hamlet, Shakespeare.
  19. “Don’t out Herod Herod.” –Hamlet, Shakespeare. Don’t overplay anything.
  20. When you get finished, quit.
  21. Organization of a speech is the most important factor in planning a speech.
  22. “Nothing comes from nothing.” –King Lear, Shakespeare. Choose a good topic.
  23. Research until you find something interesting.
  24. Information must be valid, pertinent, reliable, and current.
  25. Don’t change topics in the middle of your research.
  26. Audiences have no toleration for bragging. Don’t be the hero of your own story.
  27. Do not say, “thank you,” except when it is expected and when you can mean it!
  28. The show must go on. Nothing should stop you from delivering and/or completing your speech.
  29. Develop a style. It must include articulation, projection, and message.
  30. Don’t be afraid of emotion.
  31. A crowd is comprised of individuals. Initiate strong eye contact with the key individuals.
  32. Eye contact opens doors.
  33. Handle problems while you’re speaking as if they were planned and you enjoy them.
  34. Try not to laugh at your own jokes.
  35. Don’t major on the minors – get organized.
  36. Reading long passages from other people is dull. Don’t use (carry with you) any books other than the Bible.
  37. Spend a lot of time preparing beginnings and endings – make them effective, then stick to what you’ve planned.
  38. Enthusiasm must show.
  39. Learn or practice using ad-lib.
  40. Organization must be apparent. It necessitates an outline and the outline forces organization.
  41. Different types of organization:
    1. Sequential or chronological.
    2. Logical.
    3. Authoritative – scriptural.
    4. Exemplary.
    5. Function.
  42. Quotes and references must be specific. Use quotes especially to goose ending.
  43. Use specific detail and exact numbers.
  44. Every audience is different.
  45. Every audience requires adaptation. Don’t try to adapt the audience to you, but adapt yourself to the audience.
  46. Performance enhances skills more than rehearsal. Practice in front of someone.
  47. Imitation is no substitute for motivation. Feel it. Never be content with imitations.
  48. Plan for overreaction of the audience.
  49. Anticipate every possible reaction from the audience.
  50. The audience is more important than the speaker – you must believe it!
1 reply
  1. Betty Draper says:

    Thanks for posting this Matthew. I teach a women’s bible study and can say all of the points in one way or another run true. But the last one is a must, a total must. It’s important to me that the ladies get the core of what ever I am teaching about. Of course the core is Jesus, for when we teach about Him we have taught the Father. It thrills my heart to see these ladies grow. We are gone a lot so recently I opened it up for others to teach while I am gone instead just one lady. I just got a report yesterday how good it has been. We all need to be able to give an answer for the hope that lives within us no matter our personality or gifts. God has open doors for me to do ladies retreats occasionally, I love it. Again, thanks brother, you were a treat to have in the dorm and I am thankful to call myself your dorm Mom.

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