Presentation skills success is
based on following a practical presentation strategy and learning the techniques for delivering superior
presentations. This website includes the important presentation fundamentals you need to build your
From there you can learn and
practise the presentation techniques - because a superior presentation is about
To make you an even better
presenter we offer you presentation tips, ideas and examples.
Presentations Skills: If you already know how
important it is to be a better communicator, presenter or speaker - then this website is the resource for you. This
website will show you how to be a better presenter. If you are only looking for a magic presentation pill then this
site is not for you. This is a "how to be a better presenter" website.
·Where do you start your
Start with the "Why?"
How can you get more done? By being a superior communicator. The secret of managing people is
to master the art and science of communication. Superior communication skills are a combination of listening,
negotiating and speaking. So the first question you should ask youself before your speak is "Why you?" Why were
you chosen to deliver this presentation and why are you qualified to deliver this speech? Be clear on the
why before you move to the how and what.
Public Speaking, Presentation or Speech?
Deliver your message with impact. It is not just a speech or presentation. I use the
words speech, public speaking and presentation interchangeably in this article. It is your key message that is most
important. Your presentation is the vehicle for delivering your message and to create results. A successful
presentation is one that moves people to action. You know your presentation was a success if after you
speak, your listeners buy, work or follow. To do that requires skill. Devour this article. You will
capture the essence of superior presentation skills.
First Rule of Great Presentations
A great presentation does not just happen. It is planned, rehearsed then delivered with flair.
A good presenter is one who learns the skills of presentations - not one who hopes for talent to carry them. Public
speaking is a set of skills not a talent. You can be a good presenter if you learn the skills for presentation
success. You will be a great speaker if you learn from every presentation you deliver. Great presenters start as
poor speakers – then they get better.
Learn from other Great Presenters
Who are the presenters that you admire? Ask yourself why you admire them. What techniques
do they use in their speeches that you can use? What principles can you adapt to your presentations? It could be a
great political leader, business executive or innovator. Whether it is a Churchill, Henry Ford or Einstein – ask
yourself, “Why does their delivery work so well? How can I use that technique or principle in my speech?” Look for
the skills they used and adapt them for yourself.
·Preparing your Presentation
Purpose of your presentation
Imagine that you have been scheduled to speak to a group. An important question for you to
review is “Why am I delivering this presentation?” Don’t answer,
“Because I was asked.” Instead ask why does this group need to hear from you? What
message is so important that you must take their time to speak to them? You must be clear on the purpose of your
speech before you can write it. Please don’t give a speech just because you are the boss. Don’t waste your
listeners' time and embarrass yourself. Have something worthwhile to say. If you start by knowing what you
want to happen then you will create an more effective presentation.
Your audience is the reason you are there
Understand your audience. What do they want? Why would they listen to you? If you want to
reach them with your presentation you must reach them through their needs. While you are talking they are asking
themselves, “What’s in it for us?” If you have not spoken to this group before, interview a few of them before your
presentation. Mention the names of some audience members during your presentation. It will help you connect with
The most common way to write your speech is to start at the beginning and write to the end.
That is not an effective way to write a speech. Instead you should write the speech backwards. Start with the
destination and work back to the opening. You will write your speech faster and clearer if you start with the end
in mind. Know your purpose. Write the closing line that hammers home your message. Then write the points to support
that close. Then write your opening that launches you into that presentation. Designing a good speech
is a set of critical communication skills.
There are many presentation structures that you can choose from. When you speak to a business
group the most effective approach is to state your conclusions first, the actions required then follow with
supporting information. That would be an effective business speech.
The most boring and ineffectual presentation style to use with a business group is the
scientific method that many of us learned in school. The scientific method starts with a problem, followed by a
hypothesis, a method, results and conclusion. That sounds logical but most people in business today do not have the
patience to listen to that litany. We want the answer first. Speak – don’t lecture.
Another simple presentation structure that works is to tell your audience that you will answer
the most common questions you have heard. Then you state the question and answer it. This is one of the easiest
ways to give a speech. It sounds like a conversation and you will find it easier to remember. All you need to
remember are the questions because you already know the answers. The best speech feels like a conversation.
Presentation Pain and Relief
An effective sales technique is to first reveal or describe their pain, fear or problem. Then
you offer the relief to the pain. The relief from pain and desire for pleasure are powerful motivators. Just don’t
dwell on the pain too long. Think ‘plop, plop fizz, fizz.’
Illustrating your main points
We need images to understand. A good image for the accountant and numbers type is a chart.
Bankers, financial planners and money folk love charts and graphs. Use pie charts, bar graphs and piles of coins to
illustrate and emphasize your points when talking to financial types. Images can contribute more to the success of
your presentation then words.
Presentation: Telling Stories
Tell stories. Paint word-pictures that create images in the listeners’ minds. If they can see
it they are more likely to understand and remember your message. The best public speakers are storytellers. Use
stories and anecdotes to illustrate and reinforce the main points of your presentation. Learn to master the skill
of storytelling. Listen to newscasters, entertainers and other speakers.
The best stories are personal. Because they are yours - they are easier to remember and they
make your presentation unique. We listen to stories. We hate lectures. If you forgot that lesson - just ask your
kids. The way to find personal stories that can be used in your presentations is to write them down. Make a list of
significant things that happened to you and those around you; the first time… the best, the worst, the biggest
mistake, the best break, the greatest ah-ha, the funniest moment, the most frustrating incident, the dumbest thing
you did, the most embarrassing moment…
The things that hurt you the most make the best stories to tell in your presentations.
Rehearse your stories to edit them down into a short story that is easy to listen to. The hardest thing for you
might be to leave out details. The hardest thing for your audience is listening to you describe unnecessary
details. Just make the point.
Researching your presentation
Get your facts straight. Don’t stand there saying, “I think so” or “I’m not
sure.” Don’t lie and pretend to know something you do not. So
spend time collecting and confirming your information. Too many public speakers are quick to present their
opinions without providing clear substance. Avoid that trap. Research your presentation facts before you
Be careful of presenting hearsay as evidence – unless you preface it as that. You might
interview customers for their comments or check with the front lines for their unofficial feedback. That is ok –
but present it honestly. Do a quick search on one or a few of the Internet search engines to find some new insights
on the topic of your presentation. These Internet ‘facts’ might not be confirmable so present them as what you
found – ‘Stuff from the Internet’.
Test your presentation for relevance
Review your speech for relevance to your audience. After every statement that you plan to make
ask yourself, “So what?” Because that is what your audience will be asking. If you cannot answer this question
clearly and succinctly – then rework it or remove it from your speech. What do you want them thinking, “Yeah right
on!” or “So what?”
Remembering your speech
The best public speakers do not memorize their presentation. Instead know your topic and the
issues. Then make notes for yourself. But don’t read your speech. That is so boring. Instead write key words that
remind you of your messages. Write your speech notes on index cards. That is much easier to handle instead of
fumbling with a sheet of paper. Develop the skills of working with index cards and keywords.
Rehearsing your presentation
Rehearse your speech on your feet at least three times. It is okay to rehearse parts of it in
your car or sitting at your desk. But because you will deliver in on your feet – you rehearse the speech on your
feet. It feels different when you speak on your feet. Get used to the feel of delivering your presentation. The
best way to reinforce a set of skills is by repeating the pattern the way you plan to deliver. Golfers and
musicians rehearse their patterns so the skills of the big day are natural to them.
The fear of public speaking
Studies show that our number one fear is the fear of public speaking. Hard to believe but it
is more prevalent than the fear of death. If you have a fear of public speaking or feel some anxiety you are not
alone. Even great speakers like Churchill experienced this fear. But he worked on his delivery skills so he could
deliver even when he was nervous. I am a professional speaker who has spoken to audiences all over North
America yet I also experience speech anxiety. The fear of public speaking might be with you forever. But your
audience does not need to know.
Overcoming presentation anxiety
In most cases the symptoms of the fear are not noticeable to your audience. You might feel
terrified but your audience doesn’t know. There are several ways to get past speech anxiety. Focus on the success
of your presentation. Before you step up to speak, take a couple of slow deep breaths. Speak slowly. Don’t let the
presentation anxiety run away from you.
·Delivering your Presentation
Last minute details before you begin speaking
Get into the room before your audience arrives to check the setup and get the feel of the
room. This helps to make it your room. Walk around the room and sit in a few different chairs to take
in the feel of your room and how your audience will see you. Check your equipment and put on your busiest slide to
check for readability. Drink one or two glasses of warm water to both lubricate your vocal cords and hydrate
yourself. Public speaking dehydrates you.
Check the exit doors and paths from the building. If an emergency occurs the audience will
look to you, the speaker, for leadership and maybe their lives. Be prepared to tell people how to leave the room
and building. If it becomes necessary - do it in a calm, commanding and confident voice. Public speaking carries
the responsibility of leadership. Everything you do while speaking will be better if you prepare the skills to
Always have at least one confederate. This is a simple yet important secret to presentation
success. Your confederate should sit near the back of the room so they can survey the room, help late arrivers and
do things without disturbing the audience. They will take care of the lights, handouts, ushering people to their
seats and even asking a planted question. It is their job to head off problems before they erupt. They should know
how to work the lights and who to call when problems arise.
Talk directly to people. The best presentation is delivered as a conversation to
each person in your audience one person at a time. If you want to be believed – talk to every individual –
looking him or her in the eye.Don’t make the big mistake committed by
many novice public speakers - staring at the spot on the back wall.
This one technique is a powerful element to successful presentation skills.
Emphasizing key points
If you want people to remember something – repeat it at least three times during your speech.
The first time they might hear it. The second time they might mull it over. The third time it might stick. “I have
a dream”. Do you know how many times Martin Luthur King repeated that phrase in his famous speech?
Talk about things to which your audience can relate. Don’t talk down and don’t baby
them. To build rapport with your audience they must relate to you.
Don’t pretend to be something you are not. Show how you are like them. Be human. Expose a flaw. Show that you
are not perfect. If you pretend to be perfect they will hate you – and not listen. A successful presentation
is built on convincing the audience to listen to you.
Start your presentation on time and finish on time. If you start all your meetings and
presentations on time people will learn to show up on time. Do not repeat yourself for late comers. If there is a
small group at starting time then be prepared to ‘start’ with a discussion instead of your speech. Those that are
there will believe that you started on time and those arriving late will seat themselves quickly feeling a bit
guilty for being late.
Finish on time – even if it means leaving something out. For that reason – always get your
important message out early. Never keep the key message till the end of your speech. The audience might be
asleep by that time. Position a small clock where you can see it so you know where you are in your presentation.
Don’t commit the sin of asking, “How are we doing for time?” You should know – you are the speaker.
Deliver your speech with credibility
If you are the CEO, President or the boss – you have credibility because of the position.
You might lose your credibility by committing presentation sins. You can enhance your credibility by the sources of
information you quote. You can quote from a publication your listeners read and respect. You can quote
from a well-known and respected person. You can quote from some members of your audience. Remember your
You can also imply credibility by waving a source document or book as you speak. Notice how
preachers use this technique by holding the bible.
Repeat the points you want them to remember. Use an anecdote or story to illustrate the point.
Pause just before and after you state the key points.
We find it easier to remember images and feelings. If you want your audience to remember the
key points of your presentation attach those points to images or emotions. Men tend to connect visuals with memory
while women tend to connect emotions for memory. Be sure to address both needs in your presentations.
Smile. You look your best when you smile. You look most trustworthy, friendly and confident
when you smile. We do not want to listen to a speaker who is frowning. Don’t grin like a fool all the way through
your speech. Instead smile before you start. Smile when you say something important. Smile when you end. Make it a
warm friendly smile. When you smile you look confident and help to improve the confidence of your audience.
Sounding your best
Improve the sound of your presentation. Drink water before you speak to lubricate your vocal
chords. Breathe deeply and slowly to allow you to project your voice and pause when you want to – not when you
need to. Speak slower that you normally speak. The audience needs to hear you, think about it and internalize
Try these simple exercises to get your voice in shape before you speak. Yawn. Yes, yawning
relaxes your vocal chords and opens the voice channel. The second trick is to hum. Humming seems to set up a
resonance within your vocal cavity.
Using equipment and technology
If you are using a computer projector and PowerPoint in your presentation then avoid the
mistakes committed by many presenters. Ensure that your slides enhance your points. Don’t make the common mistake
of designing your presentation around the slides. Instead, first create your presentation then decide how to
illustrate your points. You might have sat through some horrible PowerPoint Presentations. That happens when
speakers with poor presentation skills attempt to hide their lack of skills behind a PowerPoint
Your audience does not know your script. Be ready to adapt your presentation to the audience
and conditions. Be prepared to leave something out. It might be tough on you but your audience does not know what
you left out or forgot. Instead focus on them and your message. If they get it and scream, "Yes we want to buy."
take their orders and forget the rest of your speech.
Correcting things that go wrong
Things will go wrong during your presentation. Don't take it personal. If you look and sound
calm while presenting the audience will not know that anything is wrong. They might even think that you
planned the interruption. When things go wrong, smile, pause, breathe and sound confident. Adapt your
presentation.Never appear to panic. Instead focus on your message and
what you want them to do.
At some point during your presentation you might offer to answer questions from the audience.
Never do this as an afterthought. Don’t make the mistake of delivering and finishing a spectacular speech then
opening to questions. That is a weak way to close. Instead before you
finish your speech, announce that you will take questions for x minutes. Then close off the questions and finish
with your closing statement. That way you get the strong close you planned – not the answer to a lame question.
How do you handle hecklers? Prepare yourself for the worst possible questions. Write down all
the possible objections and your answer to each. Rehearse the answers when you rehearse your speech. Answering
questions well is a crucial part of your presentation skills. No matter what happens – remain calm. The worst thing
for you to do is to react. Instead, respond and guide the audience back to your message. If you have established
rapport with your audience they will be on side with you. Don’t alienate your audience by appearing angry or out of
control. Of course this is more difficult to do than it sounds. That's why it is important to prepare. It is a
powerful leadership skill to be able to calmly handle the naysayers and attackers.
If a heckler makes a negative comment you can respond with, “Thank you for your opinion” and move
on. Don’t let yourself get dragged into a dirty argument. Don’t
give the heckler credibility.
Finish Your Presentation Strong
End your presentation with a strong message. You can choose from several techniques. A call to
action is one of the best endings to get your audience into action immediately after your speech. Other endings you
can use include a rhetorical question; a positive statement; or a famous quotation. But never end with, “Well
that’s all folks.” That is an extremely weak ending. Instead end on a positive action-generating note.
Review your presentation and grow
Ask a trusted colleague to attend your presentation and give you constructive feedback. Be
specific in what you ask from them; e.g. “How well was my point illustrated? Did my humor work well? Did I connect
with them?” When you ask specific questions you will get specific answers. The most important question you can ask
yourself is, “Did I make happen what I wanted to happen?” If the answer is yes – it was a successful presentation.
Did they buy, were they convinced, did they march in the direction you pointed? That is the measure of a successful
speech. That is the purpose of your presentation skills in action. Also look at where you might still improve your
skills. And plan to work on this before your next presentation.
When someone compliments you on the presentation be gracious and ask him or her, “What was the
best idea or strongest message that you will take away and use?” You
might be surprised at what they ‘heard’ versus what you ‘said’. The fastest way to improve your presentation skills
is to review every presentation you deliver. What worked well? What could you change?
Leverage your presentation
Make your presentation more than an event and part of the process. Summarize key points and
questions from the presentation in your newsletter and send a note to everyone. Perhaps the speech would make a
good article with some editing. Speaking is only one part of your overall set of communication and leadership
skills. These skills are meant to help you get done what you need to get done – by you and by others.
Your next presentation
File your notes from the presentation so you can refer to them next time you present. Include
in the file your comments about what you thought worked well and what you need to improve. Include suggestions to
yourself on what to try differently next time. Remember the great masters of golf and music are continually
improving their skills. They never sit back and rely on talent alone.
Toastmasters International is the largest organization that
successful teaches presentation skills.
· Final Words of Encouragement
Public Speaking is a set of skills. It is not about talent. It is a set of techniques
practiced, rehearsed and delivered. You will never deliver the perfect speech. But you might deliver a powerful and
effective speech. I know many wonderful presenters – but I do not know one who has ever delivered a perfect
presentation. The skill of public speaking is both an art and a science. The more you learn and practice the
science the easier the art will work for you. You can be a powerful and skillful presenter. But it will take time,
practice and energy. And those are the elements of greatness. Develop your presentation skills.
For more success with your presentations:
Speak with confidence;
Speak to make things happen;
Speak imperfectly – and speak again.
It never really concludes. To be a better public speaker – you must commit to be an ongoing
learner. Communications is a set of skills that can be learned, honed and taught. The ability to communicate is one
of the most sought after success skills. As human beings we have a unique ability to communicate with each
other. And after thousands of years of trying to communicate we have an incredible knack for miscommunication. We
make mistakes when we speak and when we listen. So the brave keep trying to hone that essence of delivering the
perfect speech or amazing presentation.
Remember you will never deliver the perfect presentation –
With study and practice you can deliver more effective
As a public speaker you will improve your skills as long as you
seek to grow.
I suggest that you print this article, and mark it up with a highlighter and pen. It is a
comprehensive article packed with helpful tips for you to improve your presentation
skills.Refer to it before you present to remind youself of these
powerful speaking techniques. Read it between your public speaking assignments to reinforce your presentation
style. And most importantly commit to being a better speaker.
My wish to you…
Best of public speaking success to you
May you continue to develop your presentation skills
Deliver a presentation that has your audience exclaiming,
George Torok is a frequent contributor to Toastmaster Magazine. He has presented at more than a dozen
conferences for Toastmasters plus two international conventions. Toastmasters is the world's leading organization
that teaches presentations skills.
Presentation Skills Success:Presentation skills success is based on following a solid presentation strategy
and learning the techniques for delivering superior presentations. This website includes important
presentation fundamentals that you need to build your presentations. From there you learn and practise
the presentation techniques - because a superior presentation is about technique. You can become
a far better presenter with these presentation tips, ideas and examples. Learn the skills needed to
deliver better presentations.
If you already know how important it is to be a better
communicator, presenter or speaker - then this website is the resource for you. This website will show you
how to be a better presenter. If you don't want to be a better presenter then this site is
not for you. If you are looking for a presentation pill then this site is not for you.. This is a
"how to be a better presenter website".