Preparation is one of the most important factors in determining the success of your presentation! Every professional in the world must practise to standout in their field, from athletes to doctors, preparation is key, and your presentation should not be the exception.

Below are 20 useful public speaking tips we provide clients trying to improve their presentation skills.

1.  Know your material

Know more about it than you include in your speech. You must know your material in a way that you understand it inside and out, you know how the audience will relate and receive it and are able to portray why it is important.

2.  Do not have notes 

Do not bring cue cards or any kind of notes to the front of the room.  Notes may tempt you to read instead of speak to the audience. No one likes to listen to someone who is reading.

3.  Do not memorize your speech

Use conversational language and change your language every time you practice – that way you won’t easily forget what you are trying to say.  Know the “jest” of your content, but do not memorize.

4.  6 x 6 rule

If you use a slideshow (PowerPoint/Prezi), use a maximum of 6 words per point, 6 points per slide.

5.  Dress appropriately 

Wear suitable clothing appropriate for the audience and venue.  Make sure the clothing does not draw unwanted attention on you.  You want them focusing on your speech, not your clothes.

6.  Remember the 4 P’s in Public Speaking – watch your power, pace, pitch and pause
  • Power is the volume of delivery;
  • The pace is the rate of delivery;
  • Pitch is the tone of sounds ranging from high to low;
  • Pause is a temporary stop, which can be an effective tool to maintain attention, gives the presenter time to breathe and the audience time to think about what was said.
7.  Practice, practice, practice! 

Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Arrive early, and test out the audiovisual equipment first prior to starting your presentations.

8.  Work to control filler words such as uhm’s and ah’s 

Practice, pause and breathe. Practice with a friend, and/or record yourself to catch all of your filler words prior to your presentation day.

9.  Relax

Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. (“One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.”) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.

10. Don’t apologize

Don’t apologize for any nervousness, problem, or mistake – the audience probably never noticed it.  When you apologize, you just draw more attention to the error.

11.  When it comes to visuals – less is more

Visual aids are most appealing with impactful images and less words.  When you have too many words on your visuals, it can be used as a crutch, and the presenter may be tempted to read off the screen/slide rather than looking at the audience.

Consider this quote from Robert Frost, Instructor and Flight Controller at NASA “A presentation should not be just a data dump. If our goal is just to provide data, then we would be better off cancelling the presentation and just sending out the data. The presenter is providing a perspective that the data cannot provide, by itself.”

12.  Watch your body language 

Only 7% of what people hear are your actual words.  55% of what people hear is what they see or feel, which includes: gestures, posture, facial expressions, dress and grooming, eye contact, and touches and gestures.  38% is what people hear is your tone of voice, vocal clarity, verbal expressiveness.  Watch what your body and tone is actually saying to the audience.

13.  Eye contact 

Make sure you look into the eyes of your audience.  Have good eye contact and scan the room.  Hold one person’s eyes for a complete thought and then move to someone else.  Imagine you are having a one-on-one conversation with that person. Do this in a zigzag fashion to connect with as many people as possible.

14.  Concentrate on the message – not the medium 

Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.  It’s never about you; it’s all about your audience.

15.  Know your purpose 

What do you want to say in your speech, and what do you want the audience to leave with; what do you want the audience to think, say or do after listening to your presentation.

16.  Three main components of a speech 

Make sure you have the main three components in your speech – opening/introduction, body (usually three points), and conclusion/closing.

17.  Smile and the world smiles at you 

One of the simple social pleasures of life, which goes almost unnoticed because it’s automatic, is when you smile at someone and they smile back.  Smiling can relax your nerves, and when the audience is smiling back at you, it boosts your confidence.  Smiling is something that is understood by everyone despite culture, race, or religion; it is internationally known.

18.  Watch your gestures

Keep your hands out of your pockets.  Do not fidget with hair, glasses, clothing, pens, etc.

19.  Use professional language

Do not use slang and casual language such as ”you guys” ”like” ”cause”.  This is a business presentation, so please be business-like.

20.  Think positive and visualize yourself giving an impactful speech

Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They’re rooting for you.

Need more tips? Get in contact with the EI Experience team to see how we can help your public speaking today.