10 Presentation Tips to Turn the Presenter’s Enemy into his Ally

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This article shares 10 presentation tips to help you to speak with confidence, clarity and impact.

A presenters enemy is also their greatest ally and asset.

Such is the paradox and challenge of public speaking and presenting

The need to communicate with power and impact can become a significant force in your life and career.

– Suddenly you are called on to present regularly to the senior management team.

– You get promoted and find yourself having to motivate, inspire and enthuse others each time you speak.

– You’re a successful entrepreneur who has single-handedly built a great business and now find yourself in a very big communication pond.

For the many challenged by the idea of presenting and public speaking, the enemy is always.

So is the solution

It’s our inner voice

‘I’m not good enough’

‘Who am I to speak when everyone else is so much more highly qualified?’

‘What if I’m asked a question I can’t answer?’

“What if I freeze?”

There are plenty more where these came from

This is all debilitating self-talk which serves no useful purpose other than confine us to mediocrity.

The Presenters greatest enemy is also their greatest ally; it’s their mind

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”  Henry Ford

Here are 10 presentation tips which will calm your inner voice and reframe your mind:

1. Accept nerves as normal

“There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.” Mark Twain

It really is entirely normal to be nervous while speaking in public.

The intellectual understanding of that statement is of course no comfort when gripped by anxiety.

Accepting the truth is, however, the first step to reducing the fear

You are not alone or in some way inferior to others.

It is entirely normal and something you can learn to manage and dissolve.

Acceptance does not mean liking, wanting, choosing, or supporting.

2. Prepare

Make sure you are crystal clear on what your message is.

Understand exactly how it will benefit your audience.

Do your homework; invest time, thought and energy learning about your audience

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

Prepare for questions.

Shift your focus completely to how you can help your audience, rather than impress them.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  Abraham Lincoln

3. Practice

Don’t memorise your presentation.

Do practice it at every opportunity, in front of friends, family and even the dog.

Internalise your message.

Practice, the way you deliver and express your content vocally.

Practice the way you move too; your hands, face, and entire body all have a role to play.

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”  Aristotle

4. Breathe

Moments before you speak take a few slow, deep breaths through your nose, filling your belly.

As you breathe out, say silently to yourself, ‘Relax.’

Breathe in deeply through your nose to the count of 5.

Hold your breath for a count of 2.

Slowly exhale to the count of 8 or until you’re ready for the next in-breath.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh

5. Talk

Find and value your own voice.

Our voice is something we each use every day but most of us never really hear it for ourselves.

Many of us take the ability to speak for granted

That can mean that our voice operates a little like a thermostat with it’s own default setting. It stays at that setting all of the time, unless and until, we recognise it and stretch it.

Stretch and challenge your own voice by practicing vocal exercises

Take some random paragraphs from one of my favourite books and read them out loud to yourself.

Start with your normal reading voice, then read it loudly.

Switch to reading the same paragraphs with a high level of passion. Read as though you are angry or excited.

“The Human Voice is the most perfect instrument of all”Arvo Pärt

6. Focus

When you focus on how you can help your audience rather than yourself, everything changes.

Abandon the idea of impressing your audience. Focus entirely on connecting with them instead.

Ask yourself, ‘ How can I make a real difference to their professional or personal lives?’

When you are clear on how you can help them focus on

How other great speakers connect with their audience. Don’t copy or try to be them, just learn from them.

Your personal communication strengths. What works for you today that may help your audience,

How you can make the experience enjoyable for both you and your audience.

“Instead of focusing on how much you can accomplish, focus on how much you can absolutely love what you’re doing.” Leo Babauta

7. Simplify

Don’t try to impress your audience with how much you know and how hard you work.

Keep it simple.

Don’t use bullet points.

Don’t drown them in data

Keep text on your slides to a minimum.

Use compelling images and tell them short relevant stories.

Pause every now and then

Let your audience catch up with you and give yourself time to breathe and think.

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” Henry David Thoreau

8. Open

For many presenters the first 60 seconds is often the hardest.

Craft and memorise a compelling opening.

Practise your opening, over and over again, until it becomes a part of you.

Open your presentation with a

Thought provoking question

Bold claim

Striking fact

Call to imagine something


Read: 7 Real Examples of How to Open a Presentation With Impact

9. Remember

You may feel really nervous giving a presentation but most audiences never see even half of what you’re feeling.

The only reason you are speaking is because you have something your audience need to hear.

Your audience want you to succeed.

Everyone in your audience is just the same as you are.

Your job is to help and connect, not to impress.

You’ve come a long way; you’ve got this

Let your personality shine through; lighten up.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

 Maya Angelou

10. Care

Whether it’s the quarterly review, project update or team brief, find something in what you have to say that you really care about.

Focus on that at the exclusion of all other distractions

Once you have found that, care about

How you can make a difference to your audience

Connecting with them emotionally as well as intellectually

Please don’t care about

Being perfect

Impressing your audience

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. ” Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve only shared 10 presentation tips in this article, they are all extremely powerful in their own right.

Please keep in mind that we have many, many more to share.

If you’d like to learn more about these 10 presentation tips and many more:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

Image: Courtesy of flickr.com


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