Glossary | Common Terminology for Public Speaking, Presentation, & Communication Skills
Public Speaking Glossary:
Audience: The group of people who will be listening to the speaker’s presentation.
Body language: The nonverbal communication that conveys the speaker’s emotions, attitude, and confidence.
Delivery: The way the speaker delivers their speech, including the tone, pace, and inflection.
Eye contact: Making direct eye contact with members of the audience to establish a connection and convey confidence.
Feedback: Response or reaction from the audience after the speaker’s presentation.
Gesture: A physical movement of the speaker’s body that communicates emphasis or emotion.
Memorization: Learning and delivering a speech from memory.
Outline: A brief summary of the speech’s main points and supporting evidence.
Vocal variety: The way the speaker uses their voice to convey meaning and emotion.
Non-verbal communication: using the bodily features (from gestures to facial contortions) to convey messages
High power poses: gestures or postures that increase the surface area that a speaker occupies with his/ her body; said to aid the boost in feel-good hormones in one’s body, thus amplifies one’s speaking confidence
Low power poses: closed-up postures or stances (smaller surface area being occupied), making speaker feel and look tentative
High-stakes presentation: make or break, “do-or-die” presentations; presentations that are linked to substantial commercial benefits or personal/ career advancements
Fleeting/ Panning eye contact: most of the time, such eye contact either portray tentativeness/ anxiety and shyness, or gives off the impression that the speaker is only patronizing the audience by panning the eye contact about (doing for the sake of doing it)
Sustained eye contact: intentional and strategic as it conveys genuine interest in driving home a point to a particular audience member
Ethos: refers to a speaker’s credibility, whether the audience sees him/ her as a subject matter expert and confers significance and recognition to what he/ she has to say
Pathos: refers to the emotional investment that a speaker has placed in his/ her speech, thus able to connect with his/ her audience at the psychological/ emotional level
Logos: refers to the logical flow of the speech/ the speaker’s speech content, whether it is coherent and based on logic and facts instead of hearsay and falsehoods
Internalization/ internalize: this is different from memorize/ memorization, it means that stage where a speaker is able to deeply understand the crux of the content and will be able to ditch a verbatim regurgitation of the script/ content during the presentation; instead, able to coherently put across the substantive and pivotal pieces of information even though it may differ slightly from the script
Hand gestures: Gestures are a form of nonverbal communication in which visible bodily actions are used to communicate important messages. For example, numbering gesture, palm-in-air (open) gesture, circular gesture, finger-pointing gesture
Stage positioning: Stage positions are used to help keep track of how performers and set pieces move during rehearsal and performance
Eye contact: the state in which two people are aware of looking directly into one another’s eyes.
Bridging: using a smile (to build rapport with audience) to bridge the distance between you and your audience, bring their barriers down
Pace: verbal speech at a particular rate or speed; for example, 2-3 words/ sec (moderate pace formula)
Rehearse: to practise a play, a piece of music, etc. in order to prepare it for public performance
Vocal projection: Voice projection is the strength of speaking or singing whereby the human voice is used powerfully and clearly.
Body language leakage (example – swaying left to right) – the accidental admission or escape of nervous cues
Pause fillers: a filler word is an apparently meaningless word, phrase, or sound that marks a pause or hesitation in speech (example – ‘erm’, ‘actually’, ‘you know…’)
Audience interaction: ask questions to engage audience, post a survey – ‘show of hands, how many of you…’, elicit a response and speak on that
Acronyms: an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word, so as to make it memorable and receptive to the audience (e.g. the “A.C.E” method to lose weight)
Quotations: a group of words taken from a text or speech and repeated by someone other than the original author or speaker.
Pause (for impact): a deliberate, temporary stop in action or speech to refocus attention of the speaker
Presentation Skills Glossary:
Timing: The ability to manage the length of a presentation, ensuring that it fits within the allotted time frame.
Organisational flow: The structure and flow of a presentation, including the introduction, body, and conclusion.
Persuasion: The act of convincing the audience to adopt a particular point of view or take action.
Engagement: The ability to capture and maintain the audience’s attention and interest throughout the presentation.
Preparation: The process of researching, organizing, and practicing a presentation prior to delivery.
Powerpoint Presentation slides: A PowerPoint presentation slide is similar to a poster presentation, only the information is on computer slides rather than actual posters. They are usually used to accompany an oral presentation
Adaptability: The ability to adjust and modify the presentation based on audience feedback or unexpected circumstances.
Storytelling: Using narrative techniques to engage the audience and communicate a message.
Clarity: The ability to communicate ideas and information clearly and effectively.
Rehearsal: Practicing the presentation in advance to ensure fluency and confidence.
Verbal communication: The use of spoken or written words to convey a message.
Non-verbal communication: Communication without words, such as body language or facial expressions.
Interpersonal communication: Communication between two or more people (Interpersonal communication tips)
Constructive Feedback: The meaningful and beneficial response or reaction to a message or communication.
Perception: The way individuals interpret and understand the message.
Tone: The attitude or emotion conveyed through the speaker’s voice or written message.
Active listening: The act of actively engaging with the speaker and demonstrating understanding.
Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.
Communication barriers: Anything that impedes effective communication, such as language barriers, physical barriers, or distractions.
Oratory – the art of public speaking (road to 2016 World Champion)
Rhetoric – the use of language to persuade or influence
Address – a formal speech given on a particular occasion
Keynote – the main speech given at an event
Monologue – a long speech given by one person
Eulogy – a speech given at a funeral or memorial service
Commencement – a speech given at a graduation ceremony
Argument – a statement put forward to support or oppose a claim
Proposition – a statement or idea that is being debated
Rebuttal – an argument that opposes or refutes a previous statement
Cross-examination – a questioning process in a debate or trial
Moderator – the person who leads or oversees a debate
Point of Order/ information – a procedural request or objection made during a debate
Adjudication – the process of deciding a winner or outcome of a debate
Influence – the ability to change someone’s mind or behavior
Appeal – a persuasive message designed to evoke a particular emotion or response
Credibility – the believability or trustworthiness of a source or message
Call-to-action – a request or demand for the audience to take a specific action
Propaganda – information that is spread to promote a particular viewpoint or agenda
Manipulation – the use of deceptive tactics to influence or control someone
Negotiation – a process of discussion and compromise to reach an agreement or resolution
Interpersonal Conversation Glossary:
Dialogue – a conversation between two or more people
Active listening – the process of fully engaging and responding to what someone is saying
Paraphrasing – restating what someone said in your own words to show understanding
Non-verbal communication – communication through body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice
‘Feel the room/ vibe’ – being aware of someone’s communication that provides information on how they are coming across
Empathy – the ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings
Conflict resolution – the process of resolving disagreements or differences in a conversation or relationship
Small Talk Glossary:
Chit-chat – informal conversation about non-serious topics
Icebreaker – a topic or question used to initiate a conversation
Small talk etiquette – rules or norms that govern how small talk is conducted
Filler – a phrase or word used to avoid silence or awkwardness in conversation
Common ground – shared interests or experiences that form the basis of small talk
Open-ended question – a question that requires more than a yes or no answer
Banter – playful and humorous conversation between two or more people
Narrative – a spoken or written account of events or experiences
Plot – the sequence of events in a story
Character – a person or animal that appears in a story
Setting – the time and place in which a story takes place
Conflict – a struggle or problem that a character must overcome
Climax – the turning point or highest point of tension in a story
Resolution – the outcome or ending of a story
Speech Craft/ Script Writing Glossary:
Dialogue – the spoken lines between characters in a script
Action – descriptions of physical actions or movements in a script
Character description – details about a character’s appearance, personality, and background
Scene – a specific location or setting in a script (using any of the five senses to ‘set the scene’)
Plot – the sequence of events that make up the story in a script
Screenplay – a script specifically written for a film or television show
Stage directions – instructions for actors and directors on how to perform a scene in a script
Story Curve Glossary:
Exposition – the beginning of a story where the setting, characters, and conflict are introduced
Rising Action / Building the tension – the series of events that build tension and lead to the climax of the story
Climax – the turning point or moment of highest tension in a story
Falling Action – the events that occur after the climax, leading to the resolution of the story
Resolution / Conclusion – the end of the story where the conflict is resolved and loose ends are tied up/ / laying out the learning point, moral of the story
Plot – the sequence of events that make up a story
Narration – the act of telling a story
Delivery – the manner in which a speech or oration is given
Intonation – the rise and fall of pitch and tone in speech
Articulation – the clarity and pronunciation of words in speech
Inflection – the change in pitch or tone to convey meaning or emotion
Gesticulate – the physical movements or expressions used to emphasize or convey meaning in speech
Diction – the choice and use of words in speech
Pace – the speed at which a speech is delivered
Hosting / Emceeing / Compere Glossary:
Master of Ceremonies (MC) – the person who hosts and leads an event or ceremony
Hospitality – the friendly and welcoming treatment of guests or attendees
Etiquette – the rules and customs governing behavior in a social setting
Protocol – the prescribed order or sequence of events in a formal setting
Agenda – the schedule or plan for an event or meeting
Warm-up – the introductory remarks or activities used to set the tone and engage the audience
Closing remarks – the final comments made by the host to wrap up an event
Introductory Remarks – the initial comments made by the emcee to introduce the event or speakers
Stage Presence – the way in which the emcee presents themselves on stage
Ad-Lib – the ability to improvise or speak spontaneously without a script
Crowd Control – the ability to manage and direct the audience during an event
Timing – the ability to keep the event running on schedule and to pace the program appropriately
Transitions – the smooth and seamless movement between different parts of the event
Intermission – the break or pause in an event for refreshments, rest or other activities
Impromptu Speaking Glossary:
Extemporaneous speaking – speaking without preparation or notes
Spontaneity – the quality of being impulsive or spontaneous in speech
Quick-wittedness – the ability to think and respond quickly
On-the-spot – a situation that requires an immediate response or improvisation
Think on your feet – the ability to improvise and come up with ideas quickly
Off-the-cuff speech – a speech given without preparation or advance notice
Charm – the ability to attract or influence others with one’s personality or character
Magnetism – the quality of being attractive or captivating
Presence – the quality of being engaging or compelling in person
Enthusiasm – intense and passionate interest or excitement
Charismatic communication – communication that is engaging, persuasive, and inspiring
Audience Engagement Glossary:
Interaction – the act of engaging with the audience, often through questions or discussion
Participation – the involvement of the audience in the speech or presentation
Call-to-action – a request or demand for the audience to take a specific action
Storytelling – the use of narrative to engage and connect with the audience
Visual aids – graphics, images, or videos used to enhance the audience’s understanding and engagement
Humor – the use of comedy or wit to engage and entertain the audience
Personalization / Tailored – customising the speech or presentation to the specific audience to increase engagement
Connection – a feeling of understanding or connection between two or more people
Trust – the belief that someone is reliable, honest, and sincere
Bonding – the act of creating a close relationship or connection with someone
Empathy – the ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings
Mutual respect – the recognition of each other’s worth and value
Communication – the exchange of information and ideas between two or more people
Building rapport – the process of establishing a relationship or connection with someone, often through shared interests or experiences.
Oral Assessment Glossary:
Oral exam – a test where a student is required to speak and answer questions verbally
Stimulus-based conversation – the stimulus based oral (SBO)conversation at the PSLE Oral Examination requires your child to have a conversation with the examiner, using the picture (stimulus) as a conversation starter.
Reading aloud – reading aloud is an instructional practice where the reader incorporates variations in pitch, tone, pace, volume, pauses, eye contact, questions, and comments to produce a fluent and enjoyable delivery of a text
Spoken interaction (for Cambridge O-level English) – Spoken interaction assessment refers to the testing of a student’s ability to actually hold, maintain and continue a conversation.
Oral interpretation – the performance of literature through spoken word
Speech evaluation – the process of assessing and providing feedback on a speaker’s performance
Theatre Performance / Speech and Drama Glossary:
Acting – the profession of performing in plays, movies, or television
Stage directions – instructions given in a script for how actors should move or speak
Blocking – the arrangement and movement of actors on stage
Set design – the creation and arrangement of scenery, props, and backdrops for a play
Dress rehearsal – the final practice run of a play with costumes and props
Monologue – a long speech given by one character in a play or performance
Script analysis – the process of analyzing and interpreting a play script to inform performance choices
Job interview – a formal meeting between an employer and a potential employee to discuss a job opportunity
Informational interview – a meeting with a professional in a field to gain insights and information about a career or industry
Behavioral interview – an interview technique where the interviewer asks about past behaviors to predict future performance
Panel / Group interview – an interview where the candidate is interviewed by a group of people / or a multiple candidates interviewed by one or more assessors at the same time
Technical interview – an interview where the candidate is asked technical questions to assess their skills and knowledge
Case interview – an interview where the candidate is given a hypothetical problem to solve
DSA interview – Direct School Admission is a scheme in Singapore introduced in 2004 for students who are entering secondary school or junior college. The scheme allows education institutions to select and enroll students based on both their academic and non-academic talents and achievements instead of purely academic results. The interview is crucial in securing a seat via DSA.
Sales Pitch Glossary:
Sales presentation / pitch – a persuasive message designed to sell a product or service
Sales script – a written or memorized guide for delivering a sales pitch
Features – the specific characteristics of a product or service
Benefits – the advantages or positive outcomes that a product or service provides
Unique selling proposition (USP) – a factor that sets a product or service apart from competitors
Call-to-action – a request or demand for the listener to take a specific action
Objection handling – the process of addressing and overcoming potential customer concerns or questions
Elevator Pitch Glossary:
Briefing – a short verbal presentation designed to provide a concise overview of a product or service
Concise – clear and to the point, without unnecessary detail or elaboration
Value proposition – a clear statement of the unique value that a product or service provides
Differentiation – a factor that sets a product or service apart from competitors
Memorable – easy to remember and recall after a brief encounter
Tailored – customized to the specific needs and interests of the listener
Hook – a catchy or intriguing opening statement that captures the listener’s attention
Stage Fright Glossary:
Stage anxiety: The fear or apprehension associated with performing in front of an audience.
Glossophobia: The fear of public speaking or performing. (How to conquer stage fright?)
Nervousness: A state of being anxious or worried, especially about something important or uncertain.
Panic Attack: A sudden onset of intense fear or discomfort that often includes physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and shortness of breath.
Freezing: A feeling of being unable to move or speak due to extreme nervousness or anxiety.
Self-Doubt: A lack of confidence in one’s abilities or self-worth.
Perfectionism: The desire to perform flawlessly or to meet an ideal standard, which can lead to excessive stress and anxiety.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The idea that a person’s expectations or beliefs about themselves can become true simply because they believe them to be true.
Rehearsal: A practice session for a performance or presentation, often used to alleviate stage fright.
Coping Strategies / mechanism: Techniques or methods used to manage or reduce feelings of anxiety, such as deep breathing or positive self-talk.
Social Anxiety: A type of anxiety disorder characterized by intense fear or anxiety in social situations.
Phobia: An intense fear or aversion to a specific object or situation, such as heights, spiders, or flying.
Catastrophic Thinking: A type of negative thinking in which a person imagines the worst-case scenario in a situation, often leading to increased anxiety and stress.
Mindfulness: a state of active, open attention to the present moment, characterized by curiosity, acceptance, and non-judgment.
Stress: a physical or emotional response to a demanding situation, often leading to feelings of anxiety, tension, or overwhelm.
Reduction: the act of making something smaller or less intense.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): a structured program designed to help individuals cultivate mindfulness skills as a way of reducing stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions.
Meditation: a practice of focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity, as a way of developing mindfulness and reducing stress.
Body scan: a guided meditation practice in which individuals focus their attention on different parts of the body, noticing physical sensations and learning to release tension.
Being mindful: a practice of moving the body with awareness and intention, paying attention to the sensations, both internal and external stimulations – having your mind on what you are doing/ feeling at the present. It’s the opposite of rushing or doing too many things at once.
If you want to learn more about delivering engaging, presentations and boosting your speaking confidence, check out our weekly public speaking & presentation skills course which covers all you need to know to craft and deliver powerful speeches.
We also hold a 2-day S’Peak Performance (SPP) adult public speaking programme which covers the following five modules:
Speaking Confidence Building Strategy
Effective Presentation Techniques