Well, in listening to speeches, you've likely encountered two types of individuals:
(1) The Content-Focused Speaker
These guys are the intellectual, cognitive types that put days into speech preparation, and for whom content is king. Their speeches usually reflect the many painstaking hours they've put into its content.
They couldn't care less about how content is presented, they don't have time to waste on presentation techniques, cultivating a stage personality and adding charisma to the mix - their sole purpose is to get ideas across - they're happy as long as what is being said has been thoroughly researched and has enough solid and meaningful data.
At the risk of serious oversimplification and stereotyping, speakers like university professors, politicians and many preachers would probably fall into this category.
(2) The Delivery-Focused Speaker
This speaker has mastered a different shade of the same principles of public speaking: He excels in the art of saying the same thing in a thousand different ways. He'll likely keep you interested, not because of the thoughtful and deeply enriching content of his speech, but because he's entertaining to listen to and often funny and humorous.
His entire speech might revolve around a single, often insignificant point, but he'll laugh about it, joke about it, cry about it and (if the host will allow it) scream about it. He'll PRESENT it, exploring every nuance that word might have.
Speakers like these are often naturally sociable and charismatic people who know how to pack the punches and keep audience's eyes on them. You might leave this speaker's lecture in a good mood, commenting on what a great talk that was, only to later realize that you haven't actually LEARNED anything!
I'm sure all of us have occasionally encountered speakers like these (though, admittedly, the content-focused guys are much more common). Again, stereotyping is risky, but sales-people and motivational speakers may occasionally fall into this category.
What are some principles of public speaking, that great speakers understand and use to their advantage? Are all kinds of public speaking the same, or does content and delivery have a balanced role to play?
The delivery guys realize that boring presentation nullifies great content. It doesnt matter how super relevant your topics and how deep the revelations in your speech may be, if half the audience is sleeping with the rest tapping away on their laptops and smart-phones - your message is not getting across and nobody is benefitting from it.
So, a nugget among principles of public speaking: Combine the high points of these two approaches into a balanced and efficient approach.
There's no reason why you can't have solid, great speeches with stunning content, and a great presentation style that drives your messages home through complimentary speaking techniques and stage persona.
Both of these areas have their own set of skills that you, as a public speaker, need to hone and fine tune to ensure smooth sailing on this, the "Golden Highway" of public speaking. For further reading on speech writing and coming up with informative and responsible content, see the speech writing section of this site.
Looking for ideas and topics? I have an entire section devoted to particular speech topics for speakers across all boards - from humorous, to persuasive to controversial - have a look at the persuasive speech topics section.
Regarding delivery and presentation, the public speaking tips section teach you what you need to know to improve your presentation style, get your audience interested in what you have you style, and add some substance to your stage personality.
Principles of Public Speaking and The Golden Highway
Our aim is of course to blend the best of both of these worlds, recognizing the strong points of both of these approaches while trying to avoid their one-sidedness.
The content guys realize the importance of delivering speeches and talks that have substance to it. This is especially important when people have to fork over some of their hard earned cash to pay to listen to your speeches (when, for example, you're speaking at a conference or some event), but is equally significant for any other pro bono speaker as well.