I think the best speeches were the ones during which it was obvious the speaker had prepared and practiced their presentation. They talked smoothly and more confidently, and took less time to stop and bury their face in their note cards. The most impressive deliveries were the ones where presenters looked up and made eye contact with the audience. They used their hands and walked around as they talked, often gesturing to their visual aid. The spoke loud enough for everyone to hear them and for the most part didn’t trip over their words.
The most useful visual aids in my opinion were the powerpoints, in which the presenter was able to change the image every so often as they were speaking. This kept the audience more engaged–an alternating image is more interesting than one which never changes. Switching through images also provided the audience with more information and visual reference, depending on what the speaker used them for, and made him/her appear more thoughtful in their presentation.
One of the common problems I noticed was that some people didn’t understand the civic artifact assignment. They would bring in an artifact, but instead of analyzing how it promoted civic engagement, they would explain why whatever the artifact was promoting was civic. While these speeches weren’t necessarily bad, their content wasn’t what the assignment was calling for. When it came to presentations involving interviews, a common snag people ran into was spending too much time giving background information on the person they interviewed. In the end, they were only able to talk for about a minute on what that person thought it meant to be a good citizen–which should have been the meat of their speech. In fact, many people had issues where they over- or underestimated the amount of time they had–myself included.