Although, I’ve not been conducting any presentations off-late there was a time during our schooling days when we used to enjoy our regular presentation sessions. Conversation Gurus C.B. Whittemore and Becky Carroll have shared great tips for effective public speaking. Here’s a consolidation of tips from their posts and the follow-up comments, I’ve added my own towards the end.
From C.B. Whittemore’s Blog
1. Never eat a banana immediately before a speech. For that matter, avoid dairy products, too. Both contribute to a distracting need to clear one’s throat during a presentation.
2. Drink lots of water, ideally with lots of lemon [I avoid ice]. Have water with you at the podium. This helps minimize dry mouth.
3. It’s okay to feel nervous. Even the most experienced speakers get nervous. Anticipate it and be prepared. Yes, you’ll be aware of it, but the audience won’t. No one but you will feel your knees shake. If you’re worried about tripping on stage, then don’t wear high-heels…
4. In the few minutes before the presentation, clench and unclench all of the muscles in your body. Do that again and again. It will help dissipate excess energy. Remember to breathe. If you tend to race at the beginning of a presentation, then consciously make plans to slow yourself down and breathe.
5. Practice, practice, practice. Videotape yourself speaking. Practice some more, especially the parts of the presentation when you feel most vulnerable. If it’s at the beginning, then learn the beginning by heart. Understand the rhythm of your material.
6. Project your voice and your presence. If you’re not sure what that means, then go into an empty church or auditorium and practice projecting both without a microphone. Try singing, too. Fill the entire space with your voice. That will really help things click.
7. Make eye contact, with every part of the room. Hold contact for a few seconds. If you forget, place boldly dressed friends in strategic places and look at them!
8. Do not read your presentation.
9. Do not clutch the podium. If possible, stay as far away from a podium as you can [except for when you need to drink water].
10. Remember that you are the expert. Express that energy and passion and have fun. You will be contagious. Guaranteed!
From Becky’s Blog
11. Find a friendly face in the audience. You should “work the room”, of course, but in so doing you might find a face or two that are frowning. Don’t take it personally! Find a friendly face and keep coming back to that person for encouragement.
12. Always keep a mint or hard candy with you at the podium. Sometimes a sip of water doesn’t clear the “frog” in your throat!
13. Minimize the number of bullets on each slide. No one can read a slide with too many words on it! Three bullets of short phrases are all that is necessary.
14. Include something humorous at strategic points during your speech. A light laugh is always good to keep people focused!
15. If you are comfortable in front of the crowd, get out from behind the podium! A bit of wandering makes your presentation more visually interesting. (I know, C. B. had this one, too, but I think it is worth mentioning again.)
16. Turn off your lavaliere microphone if you go to the bathroom before your speech.‘Nuff said.
17. One small tip is to pause to highlight something.
18. Also — SMILE when you connect with those people scattered throughout the audience..
19. Look into the eyes of your audience. Do not focus towards only section of the crowd.
20. Do not rely heavily on the content of slides.
21. Move with your audience. If you feel your audience is unclear, politely ask them ‘Are you with me?’ or something which stresses on the clarity of point.
Feel free to add more, in comments :)