“5 Ways to Make Your Presentations Sizzle”

    July 24, 2003

1. If you’re currently using visual aids, stop for a while. It’s really easy to try and let the slides give the presentation, which just doesn’t work well. Try giving a speech without them; it forces you to focus on your technique.

2. Tape yourself giving your presentation. Listen carefully to any part of the speech where you hesitate, stumble, or use word whiskers like “Ahhh” or “Umm”. Practice these parts until you can present them smoothly.

3. Trim your notes heavily. The less notes you bring, the better. Notes are memory aids; however, you shouldn’t have to remember the exact words you are going to say. You should strive to remember the points you want to present, and let the words come naturally. You will wind up as a much more natural, relaxed speaker.

4. Become adept at controlling your speed. Practice your speech while speaking as slowly as you can. Now, practice it as quick as you can. Repeat until you get a feel for how different speeds of presentations effect how you sound. Once you’ve done that, think about how you can use differing speeds to bring out important points in your presentation. For example, it’s a common pattern to speak quickly while building to a crescendo, and then suddenly slow down. The sudden contrast will cause the audience to pay attention.

5. Learn to resist the temptation to use every minute of available time. If you are running ahead of schedule and try to stretch the material to fill the time, your audience will be able to tell. Just a few minutes can mean the difference between a great presentation and a marginal one. Better to leave the audience wanting more than to leave them wishing they had less.

David Berube is a writer, software developer, and speaker.
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