Consider giving presentations as a form of performing in a theater performance. You want to entertain your audience and capture their attention in the same manner.
Complement your words with hand gestures. Keeping your hands by your side will make you appear stiff and the audience will likely have trouble paying attention throughout your presentation. Use your hand gestures to clarify your thoughts and to emphasize important points. Don’t plan out your hand gestures to the point that they look rehearsed when you speak, and instead, be authentic. It will not be helpful to focus on matching another person’s style. Practice your presentation many times and be aware of your body language. The non-verbal cues during a presentation can make a huge difference. Nonverbal cues can be equally or more important than the actual words spoken. Don’t be afraid of moving your hands and walking around the stage or perhaps even walking through the audience.
Add some drama, and build up anticipation by including well-placed pauses in your presentation. Carefully rehearse your presentation so you can include pauses so that you don’t have to rush through the content. Most presenters do not spend enough time rehearsing their speech and end up rushing through it. When you rehearse until mastery, then you can also plan to add in pauses that effectively add to your presentation. As you present, you can follow your plan to add in pauses or you can improvise based off the reactions and feedback you receive from the audience during the presentation.
Change up your tone/rate/volume
Keep your audience lively by changing up the delivery of your presentation. Change your tone of voice and rate of speaking depending on what you are talking about. Slow down your speech when you reveal a key message, but you can quicken your pace as you lead up to the reveal. Change the inflection of your voice as you ask questions and switch to different points in your presentation.
All of these examples listed in this article are ways you can add some flair and style to your presentation. You don’t want to look like you are reading a transcript in a monotone voice. You need to add some variability, movement, and pauses to engage your audience and keep their attention. It can be helpful to record one of your rehearsals and as you watch it, focus on your speech delivery as well as your body language.
Image courtesy of Kevin Dooley
Reference: Gallo, C. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.
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