Unless you’re a former business executive who became a monk after having a middle-age crisis and took a lifetime vow of silence…there will hardly be a time in your life where you won’t have to utilize public speaking and presentation skills.
There will also hardly be a time where a business executive has a midlife epiphany and becomes a monk, but hey…we figured having extreme ends of the spectrum would help us make our point.
This ultimate guide may not help you reach nirvana, but it will certainly help provide you with valuable presentation skills and public speaking skills.
Throughout this article, we’re going to break down the who, what, when, how and why’s of public speaking and presenting.
We’ll cover key presentation tips on how to master your public speaking ability, improve your communication skills, and control your emotions and environment so that it doesn’t control you!
If you’re a leading professional with consistent speaking or presentation engagements, check out our Presentation Skills Courses for our coaching services and workshops that will help you and your team’s captivate your audience and speak with Moxie.
The Best Public Speakers Had to Practice to Overcome Glossophobia
It might be one of the most fascinating, universal threads that tie us all together and assures us of our humanity – glossophobia.
That’s just the fancy scientific term for the “fear of public speaking.” In fact, studies show that 73% of the population are all afraid of the same thing – each other.
The key to overcoming the anxiety that overwhelms 73% of Americans is to pursue speaker coaching or presentation skills training and consistently practice the techniques and tools you learn.
Practice, practice, PRACTICE with a coach.
That’s the name of the “presenting-like-a-pro” game.
Public speaking gurus like Winston Churchill weren’t natural born speakers.
To be honest, that’s technically not even a thing.
Even if an individual is comfortable speaking in front of others, it does not negate the need to be equipped with presentation skills best practices and techniques.
Becoming a great orator like Churchill takes intentionality and, you got it, practice.
In fact, when Churchill was first elected as a representative within the British government, he froze for three entire minutes.
That’s right. CHURCHILL HAD STAGE FRIGHT.
After that failed attempt at public speaking, Churchill vowed to become a refined presenter and spent years practicing his technique, meticulously outlining his speeches and being deliberate about his diction.
It wasn’t until hundreds of speeches later when Churchill became Prime Minister in arguably the darkest time in modern day history, that he went back on that platform in the House of Commons and earned his title as one of the greatest public speakers of all time.
Well, we think if Winston Churchill had to practice for all those years to become the greatest, then why not you?
What’s preventing you from being a dynamic orator?
All it takes is passion, perseverance, time, preparation, and intentionality.
A great coach or master trainer is a HUGE plus on your journey to giving masterful presentations and here at Moxie Institute, we have a dedicated team that is purpose-driven to empower you to achieve your Churchill-sized public speaking goals.
The question you have to answer is, “When are you ready to make ‘memorable moments’ in front of any audience?”
Presentation Skills Are Crucial to Professional Development
Delivering great presentations and speaking with authority is a key business tool for virtually any professional whose career involves human interaction but especially those who are leaders in their profession.
That is of course, unless you are Mr. CEO-Gone-Monk.
It may be as significant as volunteering to be the host for your company’s annual conference or as routine as directing client inquiries and questions to the appropriate personnel.
Regardless of your field, presentation skills will always be necessary in order to effectively present your content.
Look no further than the recent LinkedIn Report highlighting the #1 soft skill most employees are lacking are presentation skills by CEO, Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn.
If you are in a position where you are constantly presenting in front of clients, colleagues and customers, this guide is packed with valuable public speaking tips to WOW your audience.
We’re talking executives, consultants, leading professionals, sales representatives, etc.
Your role requires you to be able to convey a product, a concept or an idea.
This is why developing your presentation skills will be an asset in being able to fulfill your professional responsibilities effectively and gain the influence and impact you deserve.
Think of the increase in sales you could achieve by becoming a more dynamic communicator.
How about landing those crucial contracts by confidently presenting your proposals and communicating the value of your services with authority.
Consider sleeping well the night before you present to your peers and colleagues.
See, you don’t have to be the keynote speaker of a seminar to find a reason to establish foundational presentation skills.
But…if you do happen to be a keynote speaker or have an important public speaking engagement coming up, let us help you command the stage with our one-one-one Speaker Coaching services or Virtual Speak with Moxie Masterclass.
Either way, you’re in the right place to gain insightful presentation tips that will get you going on the fear(less) path of public speaking.
6 Effective Presentation Skills Tips That Are Guaranteed To Improve Your Presentation
Well, quite frankly, there is a LOT that you should know about becoming a great public speaker.
We have plenty of resources and talented coaches at Moxie Institute who can guide you through this process but for the purposes of this article, we’ve curated some of our fundamental presentation tips to get you started!
Chapter 1: How to Prepare for a Presentation
The effort that you put into this preparation phase will make or break your presentation and trust us, your audience will notice.
Think about it — if you were going to be the MC at the Grammys, you probably would take your presentation skills training and preparation very seriously.
Because there’s going to be a lot of important people and a lot of reporters with a lot of high definition cameras.
And let’s not dismiss the inner critic inside all of us.
However, our coaches at Moxie Institute believe you should prepare for each presentation or public speaking engagement with the same dedication and fervor, irrespective of whether they’re Hollywood sized or just a part of your 9-5.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of some practical presentation tips to help you adequately prepare for your big day:
Know Your Audience.
The key to a powerful presentation is delivering on the promise you made to them. You have to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself “what should they walk away with from this presentation?”
Define the Objective for your presentation and do everything within your power to stay on topic.
Each sentence in your speech should be seamlessly woven together to point back to the objective of the presentations.
Relevancy is key here, and like we shared, your audience WILL thank you.
Less is more.
Especially when it comes to covering targeted material.
As you are preparing your speech and presentation, you want to outline enough detail that your audience will find the information useful, insightful, and actionable.
However, you need to spend time sifting through the material that is imperative to your presentation and the material that is expendable.
A practical technique is to start by writing your entire speech without holding anything back.
Just go for it! Once you’ve fleshed it out, you can start with the rigorous editing process and condensing your speech.
Create an outline that includes:
a. A catchy, compelling introduction.
b. A body that effectively expounds on your introduction.
c. A conclusion that circles back to your objective.
Understand your audience.
Are you speaking to a professional group from Los Angeles or a group of youth pastors from the Bronx?
Targeting your speech with your audience in mind will help you curate the appropriate content and save you from making irrelevant statements.
Capture their hearts and they will listen.
Early is on time and on time is late.
We can’t control certain factors so don’t be afraid to schedule a significant amount of time to cushion your arrival in case Mother Nature or Apple Maps decides to act up.
Make sure you arrive at the location early enough to get settled and get comfortable with the speaking space you will soon be dominating with your powerful presentation.
PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE.
This can’t be emphasized enough, even with the repeated all caps.
By practicing your speech, you will alleviate a lot of speaking anxiety (the official term is Glossophobia) and pressure when you’re standing on the stage or in front of anyone speaking.
Practice with your pet!
Practice in the car!
Practice in your sleep! (kidding – please maintain a healthy work-life balance).
The point is, by practicing in different settings, you actually train your mind to become more comfortable with your speech.
“You behold what you become.”
Visualization is a critical piece to successfully preparing for a presentation. Yet, many people don’t take advantage of this very effective tool.
All it takes is a quiet space and a commitment to visualizing yourself giving the presentation of a lifetime.
We easily take the downward spiral route for visualization—picturing yourself getting on the stage, forgetting your introductions, having a panic attack, and never being able to face the audience again.
Why not put a positive spin to a practice we often do so effortlessly?
We recommend practicing positive visualization in the weeks leading up to your presentation to help give you a significant boost of confidence!
It is not a skill that comes naturally.
You have to practice particular power stances, hand gestures, smiles, pauses, and more.
All these non-verbal communication techniques are just as important to your presentation as the verbal component of your speech.
Studies actually show that practicing power stances improve your confidence!
While your physical body is engaging in the confident poses, your mind follows suit by applying the same confidence.
Power stances are especially helpful in giving you a boost of confidence and eliminating those jitters before your presentation!
Join a public speaking group.
Whether it’s Toastmasters or an internal group within your company, being around other individuals who are dedicated to improving their presentation skills is a great advantage to developing your craft.
As the saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Most public speaking groups will afford you the opportunity to present a short speech on a routine basis, giving you consistent feedback and practice in front of other like-minded professionals.
If you’re able to, try and visit the physical location where you will be delivering your presentation so that you can get a feel for your environment and practice in the room, examine the space, etc.
If this is not possible, visualize the space and how you will effortlessly move around to engage the audience.
Chapter 2: How To Start A Speech With A Great Introduction: The Big Bang
Every great presentation has one thing in common — a great introduction known as THE BIG BANG.
A strong beginning to your presentation is the hook that will keep your audience wanting to hear the next great thing you have to say about “xyz” topic.
If your audience loses interest at the beginning of the presentation, you will most likely lose them throughout the body and rarely gain them back in your conclusion.
Imagine this — the speaker craftily aligns just the right phrases and inflexions until they collide into one cosmic sized moment that captivates the audience, maintaining their engagement as they drift in the wonder of the universe her words are creating.
That’s our version of how the universe of your presentation will begin every time you have a great introduction.
We don’t have the science to back it up…yet.
But we will. Soon.
In the meantime, we do have results-oriented presentation skills training.
Below are some suggestions for hitting the spot with “The Big Bang.”
Hint: Knowing your audience is also a critical precursor to choosing the appropriate method and content for your introduction:
One of the most effective introduction methods is storytelling.
Humans are naturally wired to respond to compelling stories.
Stories are memorable and help keep your audience on their toes, wanting to know what happens next to the little Russian orphan boy who became a KGB operative.
Just make sure your story is relevant to the objective and that you are able to smoothly transition into the body of your presentation afterwards.
This is why understanding your audience is so important.
Speaking to their passions, interests and expertise will get their attention – and keep it.
This handy video about storytelling Structure will have the crowd wanting more!
Historical or Current Event:
Storytelling is one option but you can also start off with the latest update on a current event or talk about a historical occasion.
Either way, make sure the event is relevant to your speech and carries value for the audience.
Look for characteristics of the event that could turn into a transition point into your content.
For example, if you’re presentation is about human rights, you could use the bravery of the men and women that fought for civil rights during the 1960’s and use that as an example of the characteristics needed to fight oppression in today’s day and age before transitioning into the solutions your presentation has to offer.
Start off with a question — the more unconventional the better.
Ask the audience to raise their hands to have them involved in the process of unfolding your reason for asking the question.
You could also reiterate the question at the end of the presentation to prove a point.
For example, if you are the keynote speaker for an annual fundraising gala for autism research, you could ask a question about how many people have family members who were diagnosed with autism.
Quotes by historical figures, quotes based on research, quotes by celebrities and influencers.
Starting off a speech with a significant quote and then expanding on it as you transition into your content is a great alternative for shorter presentations.
Whichever method you choose, the goal is the same – captivate and lead your audience into the wonders of your presentation universe.
You can have all the passion in the world but if you’re not delivering the content in your presentation with accuracy, knowledge, and expertise, you might end up coming off as an enthusiastic speaker that doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Like a used car salesman.
Nailing the technique is one thing, but you’ve got to master the content in order to make your presentation fully come alive.
Conduct thorough research on the topic of your presentation.
We suggest even thinking of some questions the audience may have concerning your presentation so that you can prepare for them in advance.
Internalizing for Confidence:
By internalizing the core of your message, you exude more confidence because you are speaking with confidence, authority and understanding.
This also helps to manage your anxiety since you are presenting within the scope of your knowledge base.
And if you’re passionate about the content, that’s a HUGE bonus because you can speak from a place of authenticity.
Unless you’re delivering a lecture on the latest findings concerning quantum computing with graphene plasmons…
We highly recommend you make your presentation interactive and talk TO the audience, not AT them.
Leverage The Q&A:
Human beings (which your audience is going to be largely composed of) love having their opinions heard.
If your presentation is in a smaller setting where you are able to ask inviting questions, take advantage of it!
It will help keep the audience engaged and will increase your confidence throughout the presentation as you realize that the crowd in front of you has a heart.
If the presentation room is not conducive for Q&A’s, you can have the crowd talk to each other in pairs or small groups by having them share their answers to your questions with each other.
Thanks to technology, you can even set up a virtual, live poll where participants can answer the question with their mobile device.
Everyone feels heard and the introverts will thank you.
When appropriate, adding a little humor here and there is always a great way to keep the presentation light-hearted.
Make sure you understand your audience though, so that you don’t make jokes about Dexter’s Laboratory to a group of Gen X’ers. We know, we miss the 90’s too.
Chapter 4: Visual Aids: Utilizing Visuals to Engage Your Audience
Powerful Introduction. Check.
Relevant and Compelling Content. Check and check!
Congrats – You’re getting the building blocks to a powerful presentation nailed down!
Now, the greatest supplement to a powerful presentation, is, well, a powerful presentation. Guy Kawasaki of Apple suggests the “10-20-30” rule to avoid the “Death By Powerpoint” fatality:
No more than 10 slides:
The slides are meant to be a supplement to the presentation, not the presentation itself.
They should essentially be useless without the partnership of your speech. Each slide should summarize or draw attention to no more than two focal points.
No longer than 20 minutes:
Unless you have a clear instruction from the organization or conference committee, shoot for presentations that are no longer than 20 minutes.
No less than 30 point font:
By setting this font size limit, you also limit the number of words you can fit in one slide which will save you a ton of groans and lost interest.
In general, you want your visuals to be simple and brief.
Be sure to find the perfect balance when creating your presentation – you don’t want to overwhelm the audience with visual information so as to distract them from the purpose of the presentation.
Too many charts and graphs will lose them.
Your visual aids should simply assist with the overall message.
If you are short on time or lack the creative juices to create a memorable slide deck, check out Moxie’s slide design services so you can focus on your delivery.
And you don’t have to stick with the good ol’ .ppt, although we think PowerPoints are a great place to start with.
There are other creative platforms of visual presentation and audience engagement!
Feel free to explore the different options as long as you keep in mind the “10-20-30” rule and AVOID the “Death by PowerPoint” fatality.
Avoid it like your presenting life depended on it.
Chapter 5: Mastering Body Language
Your audience isn’t just listening to you, they’re also watching you. Your visuals are a great addition to your presentation but ultimately, you are the visual focal point of the presentation.
Mastering your body language is not something that happens overnight. It takes practice but with the right guidance, you can develop the non-verbal communication skills that complete the presentation guru package.
In short, body language can be defined as the combination of non-verbal messages that are communicated by your body. Public speaking greats all are able to effectively maneuver their body language to support their message.
When you utilize body language the right way, it is reflected in your presentation as confidence and authority. Body language also helps with audience engagement by subconsciously affirming them of your involvement in the message.
Developing body awareness throughout your presentation will be a competitive advantage to delivering your next speech with authority.
Here are some tips to help you begin mastering the art of body language.
During a presentation, your hands are some of the most noticeable parts which means your gestures are a key component of mastering your body language. But don’t use awkward, jittery hand movements.
Instead, allow them to rest peacefully at your side and incorporate them to make a purposeful point in your speech, emphasize a section or to indicate a transition.
By injecting meaningful, supportive, energetic movement, you capture your audience’s visual attention, while your content captures their auditory attention.
Intentional eye contact helps to build connections with the audience. Spend about 2-3 seconds looking at a particular person in the crowd, then move on.
If locking eyes with others is a sure fire way to ignite your nerves, you can look over the audience’s heads or right in between their eyebrows instead of their directly into their eyes.
However, DO NOT avoid complete eye contact by staring at your PowerPoint the entire time.
Command the Space:
Make meaningful movements around the stage to emphasize a point or to transition into the next section of your presentation.
If you are able to, do a practice run on the stage that you will be speaking on beforehand, to mark certain positions on the stage that you can leverage throughout your speech.
Check out our speaking coaches at Moxie – they specialize in walking you through the ins-and-outs of body language mastery! And don’t take our word for it, hear from our long list of global client testimonials.
Chapter 6: How To End Your Speech With a Bang
The conclusion is the last thing your audience will remember about you – make it count! You started with a bang and now you have to end with bang.
Consider ending with examples that demonstrate the topic of your presentation.
For example, if you are in a sales presentation for a new product, give some testimonials from customers who were able to conduct a trial run.
If you asked a question at the beginning, see if the audience answers the same way after gaining the powerful information you presented them with.
Summarize with A Call to Action (CTA):
Ideally, your conclusion will summarize the key points of your presentations and empower your audience into action with your message.
However, you have to be clear with what that call to action is.
Do you want your audience to be more environmentally friendly?
Then let them know that they are responsible for the decisions they make and summarize the key points in your presentation to help make this call to action practical.
Tie In The Story or Introduction from the Beginning:
If you began your speech with a story, now would be a great time to bring it to remembrance and incorporate the content of your presentation into it.
Call to (Rhetorical) Question:
This concluding method is similar to a direct call to action, except it poses the CTA in the form of a rhetorical question.
The focus is to ask a question that targets the audience’s ability to take what you have delivered in the presentation and make it practical.
Consider asking questions that will capture the essence of the message and phrase it in a way that the audience can internalize and think about afterwards.
Mr. CEO-Gone-Monk’s Presentation Skills
You know, we were thinking about it and we came up with a potential scenario.
What if Mr. CEO-Gone-Monk had a really important public speaking engagement, like a TED talk, that went terribly wrong, initiating a catalytic series of events that led to his monastery lifestyle vow of silence?
It’s a stretch we know, but hey, these things happen.
And we don’t want these things to happen to you. We want your presentation to be an enjoyable experience – for you and your audience. Something you look forward to.
We wish we could have helped Mr. CEO-Gone-Monk with our TED Talk Coaching Service before it was too late.
Looking on the bright side, you still have access to our great speaking and presentation skills training services.
Check us out before your next speaking moment and let us help you make your presentation a delightful experience with a peaceful night’s rest!