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How to Get Gravel Delivered
Planning an outdoor landscaping or paving project will often involve laying down gravel. While you can buy gravel in small amounts in bags, it’s more economical to buy it in bulk, especially if you need a lot. Local retailers may even deliver gravel for you.
Gravel for Projects
Your outdoor project will dictate the type of gravel you should buy. Gravel comes in many different shapes, colors and sizes. Gravel makes an affordable and appealing ground cover in landscaping projects, and it’s also ideal because it enhances natural drainage over the soil.
If you’re laying pavers for a patio or walkway, finely crushed gravel makes an ideal base. A gravel driveway is relatively easy to install, and it’s also less expensive than other driveway materials. Crushed gravel would be one of the best gravel types for driveways. When digging holes for fence posts, use pea gravel mixed with sand for the best results.
Types of Gravel
You’ll find three basic types of gravel available for your outdoor projects.
- Pea gravel contains small and round stones. Pea gravel comes in various colors, and it’s widely used as loose fill as well as for driveways.
- Crushed stone contains rocks that are about three-quarters of an inch across. Crushed stone usually comes in gray and white colors. It’s suitable for landscaping purposes and for fill projects.
- When you need a highly compacted fill, quarry process gravel is ideal. Quarry process gravel is usually gray, and it contains a mixture of crushed stones and dust.
Gravel Driveway Contractors
If you’re planning a gravel driveway, you have various gravels and colors from which to choose to create an appealing focal point for your home. Gone are the days when a gravel driveway was merely an afterthought for homeowners who couldn’t afford to pave their driveways. Instead, choosing gravel is not only beautiful but the many color options also make it exciting. Hiring a gravel driveway contractor in your area is one option for installation, especially if you prefer to have a professional take care of the heavy lifting.
Where to Get Driveway Gravel
If you do opt to install your own gravel driveway, you’ll need to have a large amount of gravel delivered. Search for local sand and gravel companies near you that stock various types of gravel and that will deliver. You might ask for recommendations from family and friends to find a company or peruse the internet to find a reputable company. Visit the gravel retailer so you can see the gravel options. Arrange delivery after you make the purchase.
Calculating the Gravel You Need
The amount gravel you need depends on the dimensions of your driveway and the depth you plan to spread the gravel. Most companies charge by the cubic yard. To arrive at the number of cubic yards you’ll need, multiply the width by the length by the depth. If you’re unsure about your calculations, many gravel companies have gravel calculators on their websites that make it easy to figure out how much gravel you need. Or, sales representatives at the gravel company will help you calculate your gravel needs.
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Northern Illinois University Effective Presentation Skills Tutorial
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- Delivering the Presentation
Once you have rehearsed the presentation well, here are some simple suggestions to consider in delivering the presentation effectively:
Dress appropriately for the presentation, based on the context, disciplinary protocols, formality of the occasion and the type of audience (faculty, students, clients, etc.). Do not wear inappropriate clothing, jewelry, hats or footwear that distract.
Arrive early for the presentation, and do not arrive just in time or late.
Meet the moderator
If there is a presentation moderator who will introduce you, meet that person well in advance of the presentation so he or she knows you are in the room on time and that you will be ready.
Decide how to handle audience questions
Decide how you will handle questions during the presentation, and either request the audience to wait until you are finished with your presentation or make sure you will have time to answer the question in the middle of your presentation.
Have a plan if the technology fails
Similarly, decide how you will continue your presentation if the presentation technology fails or freezes in the middle of your presentation.
Smoothly Handling Difficulty with Technology
This video clip is an example of a presenter encountering difficulty with technology but handling it smoothly with a backup plan.
Poorly Handling Difficulty with Technology
This video clip is an example of a presenter encountering difficulty with technology but handling it poorly without a backup plan.
Greet the audience
If you have some free time before the presentation starts, walk up to some members of the audience, introduce yourself, and thank them for being there. This may put you at ease during the presentation.
Load your visuals before your allotted presentation time
If you plan to use presentation tools, load your presentation or connect your presentation device to the projector before you are asked to present so you do not use up your presentation time to load your files and make the audience wait.
Be pleasant and smile when you stand in front of an audience so it makes the audience feel comfortable listening to you.
Don't eat or chew gum
Do not chew gum or eat during your presentation. You may drink water or other allowed beverages during the presentation.
Take a deep breath
Before you begin to speak, take a few deep breaths and calm yourself.
Speak slowly and clearly, and do not rush through sentences, as some do when they get nervous.
Speak at an even pace
Pay attention to the pace in which you speak, to avoid your pace of delivery being either too fast or too slow for the audience to follow.
Pace Too Slow
This video clip is an example of a presentation pace that is too slow.
Pace Too Fast
This video clip is an example of a presentation pace that is too fast.
This video clip is an example of the presenter's pace of delivery being appropriate for the audience to follow.
Change the inflection of your voice to gain audience attention or to emphasize content
If you are trying to make a point about a particular idea, enunciate or pronounce the words clearly and distinctly. At this point, you can slow down and raise the volume of your voice to clearly express what you have to say. Speak with authority, confidence and enthusiasm.
Effective Voice Quality & Emphasis
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating effective voice quality and emphasis on significant words.
Ineffective Voice Quality & Emphasis
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating ineffective voice quality and emphasis on significant words.
Use appropriate gestures
Use appropriate gestures to emphasize appropriate points, and do not make wild gestures or pace back and forth in front of the screen in a distracting manner.
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating effective hand gestures and body language.
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating ineffective hand gestures and body language.
Make proper eye contact
Make proper eye contact: that is, look at the audience from one side of the room to the other side, and from the front row to the last row. Do not look down the whole time, and do not focus on just one side of the room or just the front row of the audience.
Effective Eye Contact
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating effective eye contact.
Ineffective Eye Contact
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating ineffective eye contact.
Stand beside the screen
If you plan to use projected visuals on a screen, stand to one side of the screen. Ideally, you should be facing your audience at all times and just glance at the screen to look at cues from the slides.
Effective Position Near Screen
This video clip is an example of a presenter standing by the side of the screen during a PowerPoint presentation so the audience view of the screen is unobstructed, and glances at the screen only occasionally.
Ineffective Position Near Screen
This video clip is an example of a presenter standing in front of the screen during PowerPoint presentation, obstructing the audience view of the screen.
Do not talk to the screen or board
Do not talk to the screen or the presentation device; look at the audience and talk. It is alright to look at the screen occasionally and point to something important on the screen as you present.
Looking at Screen
This video clip is an example of a presenter looking mostly at the screen (instead of the audience).
Writing on the Board
This video clip is an example of a presenter writing on the board while talking and the writing is difficult to read.
Do not read line-by-line
Do not read presentation materials line-by-line unless there is someone in the audience who is visually-impaired and cannot see the slide, or if it is a quote that you have to read verbatim to emphasize.
Reading Each Word
This video clip is an example of a presenter reading word by word from an overly dense slide that is difficult to read.
Talking from a Slide
This video clip is an example of a presenter talking from a slide with easily readable bullet points, using them as cues.
If you get stuck, look at your notes
If you get stuck on a point and do not know what to say, feel free to look at your notes to continue.
Use the microphone effectively
If you are presenting in a large room where a handheld microphone is needed, hold the microphone near your mouth and speak directly into it.
Using Microphone Effectively
This video clip is an example of a presenter using the microphone effectively.
Using Microphone Ineffectively
This video clip is an example of a presenter using the microphone ineffectively.
Do not curse or use inappropriate language
Do not curse or use inappropriate language if you forget a point during the presentation or if the presentation technology fails.
Be considerate of your team
If you are part of a team and giving a group presentation, be considerate to other team members by not using up their time or dominating the presentation. Smoothly transition from one presenter to another.
This video clip is an example of transitioning from one presenter to another in a polished manner.
This video clip is an example of awkward or unpolished transitions from one presenter to another.
Do not conclude abruptly
Do not conclude the presentation abruptly by saying "This is it" or "I'm done." Conclude properly by summarizing the topic and thanking the audience for listening.
This video clip is an example of the presenter concluding a presentation properly by summarizing the important points and thanking the audience.
This video clip is an example of the presenter abruptly concluding a presentation.
Be considerate of the next presenter
After your presentation and the question and answer part are over, remove your presentation materials from the desk or the podium, and close any open presentation software so the next presenter can get ready quickly.
Thank your moderator
Remember to thank your moderator (if there is one) and the audience, and if you were part of a panel presentation, make sure to thank the panel members.
Participate in the audience
If there are other presentations scheduled after yours, do not leave the room, but stay and listen to their presentations.
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Once you have created your presentation and your visual aids, and you have prepared for the presentation, you can deliver it to your audience. This module will help you learn how to confidently deliver your presentation.
Strategies for Your Presentation
How to deliver an effective presentation.
Watch this video or read the tips below to learn some techniques for delivering a presentation.
- Video Transcript - How to Deliver an Effective Presentation
Tips for Delivering a Good Presentation
- Have good posture
- Smile and act relaxed. It will make you look and feel more confident.
- Make eye contact with your audience instead of reading off your notes the entire time.
- Avoid distracting behaviours, like chewing gum or fidgeting.
- Watch for nervous gestures, such as rocking, or tapping.
- Make sure to dress appropriately for your profession.
- Take time to think during your presentation! People have a tendency to speak more quickly under pressure. Make an effort to slow your pace and include pauses. Speaking slower will also help you avoid excessive verbal fillers like “ummm” or “ahhhh”.
- Pay attention to your volume. Think about projecting your voice to the back of the classroom so that everyone can hear what you have to say.
- Try to speak clearly so that your audience can easily understand your words.
- Avoid the ‘lecture’. By incorporation more than a speech into your presentation, you’ll be better able to hold your audience’s attention. Try using visuals, asking questions, or doing activities.
How to Rehearse Your Presentation
Review this checklist before you present to make you that you are ready to deliver your presentation. It will help you rehearse your presentation so that it will go smoothly when you deliver it in class.
- Presentation Rehearsal Checklist - Word
- Presentation Rehearsal Checklist - PDF
Presenting online involves many of the same skills as presenting in person, but there are a few additional considerations. Watch the video below to learn more about how to successfully present online.
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Home / Blog / Colleges / 11 Tips for Delivering an Effective Presentation
11 Tips for Delivering an Effective Presentation
In high school, college, in your career, or all three, you will likely be tasked with giving a presentation to a class, group of managers or teachers, or fellow co-workers. The thought of standing up and giving a presentation in front of your peers can send many of us into a full-blown panic attack. The fear of public speaking is extremely common and affects many of us. To combat this fear, use the following tips to effectively deliver your next presentation:
Know Your Topic
Practice, practice, practice, incorporate an attention-grabbing introduction, make eye contact, speak clearly and audibly, move around, breathe deeply, use natural hand gestures, speak with feeling, allow some time for a question-and-answer period, use a visual aid or handout when needed.
RELATED: Speak Easy: The Advantages of Majoring in Communications
With the proper amount of planning, and by applying the above techniques, you can successfully deliver an effective and memorable presentation.
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Eight tips for delivering a great presentation.
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Ira M. Gostin, MBA, APR is the chief strategist at G8 Strategies LLC , helping global companies tell their stories & move the needle.
In the corporate world, the PowerPoint, or pitch deck, is still a relevant communications tool. CEOs, COOs and CFOs, as well as their teams, use these decks to communicate to investors, analysts, shareholders, the media and others.
There are articles that state the “slide deck is dead,” but people still use it effectively in daily practice. The slide deck is not dead if you create a great storytelling deck with visual impact—and rehearse and present it with authority.
The core of the pitch deck is the combination of the oral presentation with a visual one. However, a failure to excel in either domain can create a situation where the merged program is less effective than the combination of the two.
The following are eight critical points that can help you ensure that your presentations are as effective as possible and deliver on your presentation goals.
1. Control Your Modulation
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Your voice leads your presentation and is one of the most overlooked aspects of the presentation world. If your goal is to present at a level (loudness, excitement and authority) of an eight, you should actually project your voice at a nine or 10. Many times people fail to rehearse and come across as flat, lifeless or not committed to the story.
2. Practice, Rehearse And Practice Again
Many CEOs hate to practice or rehearse, but I believe it’s imperative. No matter how many talks they have given, put them in a staged room, videotape it and make them go through the presentation. Look for traps in the slide deck or areas where they might stumble. Count the “ums” and “ahs” they use to help eliminate these unnecessary fillers.
3. Work On Your Posture
Stand with authority. Rehearsing and videotaping will help with this, but a good speaker will stand up straight, have their microphone pre-positioned and make sure they’re not swaying back and forth or hanging onto the podium. I saw one CEO at an event who was draped over the podium and mumbled through his entire presentation. That’s not a company I want to invest in.
4. Make Sure Your Slides Visually Represent Your Company
Your brand should be prominent. Use colors purposefully. Graphics should be clean and vibrant and not pixelated and hard to read. Buy stock photos; don’t clip other people’s photos from the internet.
5. Don’t Overuse Bullets
Slide after slide of numerous bullets will put your audience in a trance. To create a dynamic visual storytelling deck, you can insert a slide or two with bullets, but keep them simple. I recommend using odd numbers of bullets and using no more than five per slide. Three is better if you insist on using bullets.
6. Don’t Read The Slides
Your script should augment the slides. If you have bullets, pick one bulleted item to expand on, but never read the slides. Give additional information that supports the information on the slide.
7. Find Your Cadence
When you rehearse a program, you build a sort of muscle memory. Your cadence keeps people engaged in the audio part of the story. A weak cadence and soft voice can lead to “drone on” symptoms, something you never want to be associated with.
8. Tell A Story
The most important part of any presentation is telling a story. It should always have a beginning, middle and end, and the end should wrap up your entire presentation.
The brain captures information in a variety of ways, and in many cases, it does so in different ways at the same time. Your visuals, tone, emphasis, authority, expertise and passion for the subject should all come across when you’re presenting your subject.
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Deliver your presentation
Get a feel for what Presenter view will look like when it comes time to delivering your presentation to an audience.
Give the presentation
Notice that you won't see animations or transitions in the Presenter view, but don't worry, they'll look fine on the audience's screen.
If you want to go back, press the back arrow or the Backspace key.
If you want to jump to a slide, click the See all slides button and click a thumbnail.
If you know the slide number, you can type it and press Enter.
View your speaker notes as you deliver your slide show
Draw on or highlight slides during a presentation
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Add speaker notes to each slide in a presentation
The audience is settled in and you are ready to begin the presentation.
The current slide shows on the big monitor and over here, you can see what is coming up.
When you are ready, advance to the next slide or animation, and begin your talk.
You can click either monitor, click the forward arrow, or press the Spacebar.
This slide starts with a title.
The preview monitor shows that the next time we advance the slides, the first bullet will animate on, then the second bullet, and so on.
If you want to jump to a slide, click the See All slides button and click a thumbnail.
And if you want to run a Custom show that you created in PowerPoint, click the Options button, and then, select a show.
Your notes are over here.
To change the size of the text, click these buttons.
Use the mouse to scroll the text, or press Ctrl and the down or up arrow.
Underneath the big monitor, you have your tools and options.
Click the Pen to select a Laser Pointer , Pen or Highlighter .
You can also change pen colors and Erase All Ink on Slide .
Click this button to select an area on the slide to zoom in to.
Click it again to zoom to normal size.
Finally, this button blacks out the screen.
You can do that if you need to focus the audience's attention away from the screen.
Up here, you have a timer that starts when you begin the slide show.
You can Pause it or reset it. And over here, there's a clock.
So, these are the controls that you are most likely to use during a show.
Way up here, kind of out of the way, you have some other options that you'll use less often.
Click here to show your taskbar, if you want to switch to a different program.
Click here to end the slide show at any time. You can also press Esc.
There is one last thing. Go to the Options button and click Help to see all the keyboard shortcuts available in the Presenter view.
So that is the Presenter view. Press ALT+F5 any time to give it a try.
For more information about using PowerPoint during a presentation, check out the links in the course summary.
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'Delivery' refers to the way in which you actually deliver or perform or give your presentation. Delivery is a vital aspect of all presentations. Delivery is at least as important as content, especially in a multi-cultural context.
Most speakers are a little nervous at the beginning of a presentation. So it is normal if you are nervous. The answer is to pay special attention to the beginning of your presentation. First impressions count. This is the time when you establish a rapport with your audience. During this time, try to speak slowly and calmly. You should perhaps learn your introduction by heart. After a few moments, you will relax and gain confidence.
You need to build a warm and friendly relationship with your audience. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you are enthusiastic your audience will be enthusiastic too. And be careful to establish eye contact with each member of your audience. Each person should feel that you are speaking directly to him or her. This means that you must look at each person in turn - in as natural a way as possible. This will also give you the opportunity to detect signs of boredom, disinterest or even disagreement, allowing you to modify your presentation as appropriate.
What you do not say is at least as important as what you do say. Your body is speaking to your audience even before you open your mouth. Your clothes, your walk, your glasses, your haircut, your expression - it is from these that your audience forms its first impression as you enter the room. Generally speaking, it is better to stand rather than sit when making a presentation. Be aware of and avoid any repetitive and irritating gestures. Be aware, too, that the movement of your body is one of your methods of control. When you move to or from the whiteboard, for example, you can move fast or slowly, raising or reducing the dynamism within the audience. You can stand very still while talking or you can stroll from side to side. What effect do you think these two different approaches would have on an audience?
Because English is so widely used around the world, it is quite possible that many members of your audience will not be native English-speakers. In other words, they will not have an Anglo-Saxon culture. Even within the Anglo-Saxon world, there are many differences in culture. If we hypothetically imagine a German working for an Israeli company making a presentation in English to a Japanese audience in Korea, we can see that there are even more possibilities for cultural misunderstanding. You should try to learn about any particular cultural matters that may affect your audience. This is one reason why preparation for your presentation is so important. Cultural differences can also be seen in body language, which we have just discussed. To a Latin from Southern France or Italy, a presenter who uses his hands and arms when speaking may seem dynamic and friendly. To an Englishman, the same presenter may seem unsure of his words and lacking in self-confidence.
It is, of course, important that your audience be able to hear you clearly throughout your presentation. Remember that if you turn away from your audience, for example towards the whiteboard, you need to speak a little more loudly. In general, you should try to vary your voice. Your voice will then be more interesting for your audience. You can vary your voice in at least three ways:
- speed: you can speak at normal speed, you can speak faster, you can speak more slowly - and you can stop completely! You can pause. This is a very good technique for gaining your audience's attention.
- intonation: you can change the pitch of your voice. You can speak in a high tone. You can speak in a low tone.
- volume: you can speak at normal volume, you can speak loudly and you can speak quietly. Lowering your voice and speaking quietly can again attract your audience's interest.
The important point is not to speak in the same, flat, monotonous voice throughout your presentation - this is the voice that hypnotists use to put their patients' into trance!
Of all the information that enters our brains, the vast majority of it enters through the eyes. 80% of what your audience learn during your presentation is learned visually (what they see) and only 20% is learned aurally (what they hear). The significance of this is obvious:
- visual aids are an extremely effective means of communication
- non-native English speakers need not worry so much about spoken English - they can rely more heavily on visual aids
It is well worth spending time in the creation of good visual aids. But it is equally important not to overload your audience's brains. Keep the information on each visual aid to a minimum - and give your audience time to look at and absorb this information. Remember, your audience have never seen these visual aids before. They need time to study and to understand them. Without understanding there is no communication.
Apart from photographs and drawings, some of the most useful visual aids are charts and graphs, like the 3-dimensional ones shown here:
Remain calm and polite if you receive difficult or even hostile questions during your presentation. If you receive particularly awkward questions, you might suggest that the questioners ask their questions after your presentation.
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How to deliver a good presentation
Not everyone is comfortable with standing in front of large numbers of people and delivering a presentation in the spotlight. It can be a nerve wracking experience.
But trust us, presentations become easier over time, and after reading our guide to delivering a good presentation you’ll feel more equipped. Follow our advice to better prepare, stay calm, and keep your audience hooked from start to finish. Here’s our tips on giving a great presentation.
Choosing topics for your presentation
The first step in planning your presentation is choosing your presentation topic. What you choose to talk about can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your audience engaged.
When thinking about what to do a presentation on, you need to select a topic that you know inside and out, but you can speak about in a concise way. Consider:
- Does it match the theme of the event?
- Can you clearly explore your topic in a short amount of time?
- Is it something your audience will be interested in?
It’s always worth spending some time researching your audience. You’re doing your presentation for them, so they deserve to listen to something they’ll enjoy. What are their interests? How much do they know about your chosen topic? What can you share that will provide unique value?
Spend some time in the lead up to your presentation getting to know your audience. Reach out on social media, attend networking events, and find out more about the challenges they face. In doing so, you’re more likely to create a presentation that’s truly engaging.
Prepare your presentation
Preparing your presentation can seem like one long, daunting task and can make the overall process more stressful. Luckily, there’s a few things you can do to navigate the workload and tick things off your to-do list.
- Firstly, give yourself enough time. Putting together a presentation is a lot of work, so you’ll need plenty of time to create slides, write speaker notes, rehearse and more.
- Write speaker notes, but keep them short and sweet. If you read from your notes word for word, you’re more likely to sound robotic, and will spend more time looking at your notes than the audience. Restricting your notes to just a handful of words per slide will help you speak in a conversational way.
- Prepare for the worst, especially if you’re feeling nervous. Think about the worst that can happen, and then plan for those scenarios. For example, if you’re worried about a potential tech issue that prevents your slides from being shown, then bring a print out of your presentation with you. That way, you can still deliver your talk.
How to make your presentation interesting
Research showed that 79% of people feel that “most presentations are boring.” So, how do you make a presentation fun and interesting for your audience?
The trick here is to think of the story you’re telling. That’s what gets the audience hooked. How did it start? Where did your idea come from? How did you solve the problem? How does it end?
You don’t need to tell your story in a simple narrative structure, however. If you want to keep your audience engaged throughout your presentation, present the information in a non-linear way. Try starting at the beginning, state how it ends, and then explain how you got there. This structure will ensure that your audience sits up and listens, as they’ll want to know how exactly you solved the problem.
To make your presentation interesting, you should also consider adding different types of media to keep your audience engaged. See if you can add:
- Introductory music, if appropriate
- A live poll which starts when your presentation does, and the results are revealed at the end.
The above are just some ways to help keep your presentation interesting for your audience. We’ll explore how you can add these to your slides in more detail below.
How to make good presentation slides
When making a presentation, try to remember that your slides are not the focus point – you are. Slides are there to support what you’re saying, not steal the show. Here’s a few tips to help you make good presentation slides.
Apple’s Guy Kawasaki uses a 10/20/30 rule when it comes to presentations:
- No more than ten slides
- The presentation should be no longer than 20 minutes, if possible
- Font size should be 30 point
Following this rule is a great way to keep your presentation short and concise, with just the right amount of information on your slides. A larger font size leaves you with less room on the slide, so less chance of going overboard with the text. Anything that doesn’t make it onto your presentation slides can be added to your speaker notes or included in a ‘Further Reading’ section at the end.
When adding visuals to your slides, make sure they’re high quality and accurately capture what you’re trying to say. Try to change text into a visual element, such as an image for every bullet point, or a graph instead of statistics. It’ll make the slides appealing for your audience, and there’s less text for you to read from.
Another thing to note is that you don’t have to use PowerPoint when making presentations. There’s a variety of alternative presentation software available, such as:
- Google Slides
Choose a software that you’re comfortable with and works for your presentation – this will help make the presentation a little easier and you can have some fun creating your slides.
Creative presentation ideas without a Powerpoint
Alternatively, you can deliver a presentation without slides. The thought of standing in front of a group of people with nothing but you on the stage may sound like a nightmare, but people can give fantastic presentations without slides. The pressure means you have to speak well, so you’ll be more memorable for your audience, too. A number of the best Ted Talks don’t use slides.
A few creative presentation ideas without Powerpoint are:
- Make a video or interactive infographic, or use a photo slideshow
- Utilise props
- Use music, if appropriate. If you’re creative enough, you could even write your own song!
- Ask the audience to participate throughout the presentation. For example, you could ask them to write down what they think of when you say a particular word, and then can discuss the results throughout the presentation.
- Use rhetorical devices when speaking to hook your audience. These can transform a simple talk to a mesmerising experience, as you’ll paint a picture and win your audience over. See how Steve Jobs used rhetorical language in his presentations here.
How to deliver a great presentation
While the slides themselves are important, the way you deliver your presentation carries more weight. It’s not about what you say and do, but about how you make your audience feel by the end of your presentation.
Keep reading for our tips for delivering an effective presentation.
Rehearse your presentation over and over again
This is one tip you’ll hear repeatedly, but that’s because it’s one of the most important. Hopefully, you should have given yourself enough time to rehearse your presentation, both on your own and in front of people you trust. This is how you’ll get valuable feedback to help improve your presentation in time for the day.
One of the main reasons for practising is because of timing. You will have a specific amount of time to give your presentation and need to keep to it. You also don’t have a lot of time to engage your audience before their minds start wandering elsewhere.
Here’s a few timing tips when rehearsing your presentation:
- Time yourself each time you practice
- Write a time schedule for each section of your presentation
- Make note of slides you spend too long on, so you know where you need to cut down
- Remember to leave some time at the end for questions
- Keep in mind that, on the day, time may run over slightly. This could be because of tech issues, or your audience asks more questions than anticipated. The best way to prepare for this is to select one or two slides you can afford to skip if running out of time.
If possible, try to go to your presentation venue before the day for a practice session. This way, you can get to grips with technology, the size of the room, what your slides look like on their screen, and the feeling of standing on the stage. This can give you a better idea of how your presentation may go, if you need any tech amendments, and how loud you need to speak.
Presentation anxiety tips
It’s normal to feel nervous before presenting, especially if you’re new to it. Here’s a few ways to overcome your fear of public speaking:
- Start by remembering that the audience is on your side. They want you to do well and impress them with your presentation. They’re not there to poke holes in your talk.
- Remember that you’ve prepared for the worst. You’ve thought about the worst-case scenarios and planned for each one (If you haven’t done this yet, make sure you do!). Also, your topic is one that you know really well – you’re the expert.
- Have everything on-hand before the presentation. You’ll need your speaker notes, props, and a bottle of water at least.
- Before you begin presenting, take a few minutes to yourself. Grab a drink, breathe, and remember, you’ve got this.
- If you’re still worried about forgetting your lines, you need a quick sip of water, or you just feel like you need to slow down, you can pause throughout your presentation. It may feel like a long time for you to not speak, but to your audience, it will be a few seconds max. It’s not as painful as you think!
Start your presentation in a strong way
As mentioned earlier, your presentation needs to tell a story. So you need to captivate your audience quickly.
Think about the best way to start your presentation, not just with your slides but how you’re going to begin speaking. You don’t want to spend too much time on an introduction and should get to the first point of your presentation quickly, so think of one or two quick lines you can use to grab your audience’s attention from the start.
You could start by immediately stating the audience’s problem, or ask a rhetorical question, such as a ‘What if….’’. You can also use a hard-hitting statistic. Another idea is to start in the past or future, before jumping into the main body of the presentation. Think about how the presentation links back to lessons we’ve learned (or haven’t), or how it affects the future, and forecast that image to the audience.
This technique would also create a nice way to circle back at the end of the presentation – what does the future look like now you’ve presented your solution?
How to speak during a presentation
As we’ve mentioned before, your slides are secondary in your presentation. You need to speak well to give a memorable talk for your audience. However, this is also where your nerves can show.
If you’re feeling nervous and want to give a confident presentation, you’ll need to fake it till you make it. Here’s a few tips to help get you through:
Presentation Speaking Tips
- Make eye contact as you speak. This will help you connect with your audience. However, if you’re too nervous to do this, try looking slightly above the audience at the wall behind them, or look at their shoulders instead. You’ll look like you’re looking directly at your audience, giving a good impression but making it easier for you.
- Try not to talk too fast – this can happen a lot when you’re nervous. Remember, you can stop for a breather or a sip of water if need be. If you find that you’re speaking quickly when rehearsing your presentation, try and plan in strategic pauses, such as at the end of a memorable sentence.
- Avoid going off on a tangent – always keep it short and sweet.
- Also, end the occasional section with a teaser of what’s to come. This will help break your presentation down, give you a great opportunity to pause, and your audience is excited to learn more.
Think about your body language while presenting
Body language can make a big difference when giving a presentation. Your body language will engage the audience and present you in a confident way. If you’re slouching, keeping your arms folded or not smiling, you may alienate your audience and make them less interested in what you’re saying.
Amy Cuddy gives a fantastic TedTalk on the importance of body language and what your posture communicates here.
Now, here are our tips for using good body language while presenting:
- Remember to smile!
- Stand with a good posture, so no slouching and relax your body, so you don’t appear tense.
- Use hand gestures if it helps you explain points easily
- Move around the stage. Standing in one spot can make you appear rigid and closed off. By moving around, you’ll seem naturally at ease. You’ll also act as another visual element for your audience.
- Be as open as possible. Don’t fold your arms or hunch over, as doing so will make you appear smaller on the stage.
It can be hard to keep track of your posture during a presentation, especially when you’re focusing on how you are speaking. One way of keeping yourself in check is, when you’ve given yourself time to pause, use that moment to relax your shoulders. You’ll feel more comfortable for the rest of your presentation.
Ending a presentation on a high
Your audience will remember the beginning and end of your presentation more clearly than any other part, so the end of your presentation is important – you don’t want to undermine a powerful presentation with a poor conclusion.
Make sure you summarise your key points at the end – these can be listed as bullet points on the last slide of your presentation. But you also want to leave the audience with an image in their heads.
We mentioned earlier the idea of starting your presentation by looking to the future, so now is the best time to circle back to this. How has your idea solved the problem? Why is this better for everyone? Get your audience imagining a world with the knowledge you’ve provided, and leave them clinging on to that image.
Hopefully, you will have left some time for a Q&A session with your audience, but don’t forget to hang around afterward for those who’d like to speak with you one on one.
Collect presentation feedback
Collecting presentation feedback is a great way to evaluate the success of your presentation and improve on your skills. The key is to obtain valuable feedback, so you can actually act on people’s suggestions and take something from your overall presentation experience.
You want to collect a range of feedback from both your audience and event organisers. But it’s not just a case of collecting a few comment cards at the end – there are several ways you can gauge the success of your presentation.
Non-verbal feedback is how your audience reacted throughout your presentation. So try and think about the following questions:
- Did your audience look bored, confused, or uninterested during the presentation?
- Did they ask questions? What kind? Were more questions asked about one section than any others?
- Did they laugh at any jokes you included?
If there was little to no engagement from your audience, then there’s a chance that your presentation didn’t hold their attention for long enough.
You should also collect verbal feedback. Collecting presentation comments from the audience is a chance to hear from them directly, and can provide you with some excellent suggestions. Send out a survey to attendees the day after the presentation, which includes questions like the below:
- Did they understand the point of the presentation?
- What have they learned?
- Was the structure clear?
- How was your delivery?
It’s also worth asking the event organisers what they thought of your presentation. Did you utilise the resources available? Did they pick up anything from the audience? Did it add to the conference theme?
Combine all feedback you’ve received and you’ll see how well you did.
Presentation Tips – summary
Here’s a quick summary of our tips for effective presentations:
- Choose a topic you’re passionate about
- Keep your presentation short and sweet
- Remember, it’s all about how you make your audience feel
- Don’t overload your slides
- Make it interactive
- Prepare for the worst
- Start strongly to grab your audience’s attention
- Remember to breathe!
- End on a high note – leave the audience with an image in their minds
- Collect non-verbal feedback as well as verbal
Deliver an effective presentation at 20 Bedford Way
At 20 Bedford Way, we have the space you need to deliver an amazing presentation. Our range of stylish event venues have flexible layouts, so we’re confident that our selection of event spaces will suit your needs.
Each venue comes with state-of-the-art facilities, with the latest tech equipment available to create a smooth presentation experience for you. We also provide a range of excellent catering services and breakout rooms, ideal for both networking sessions and celebrating the success of your presentation, of course!
To find out more about our conference and event venues, contact us today . You can speak to our team on 020 7612 6143 or send us an email at [email protected] .
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- Education and Communications
How to Deliver Effective Presentations
Last Updated: January 24, 2023 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Maureen Taylor . Maureen Taylor is the CEO and Founder of SNP Communications, a leadership communications company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been helping leaders, founders, and innovators in all sectors hone their messaging and delivery for almost 30 years, and has worked with leaders and teams at Google, Facebook, Airbnb, SAP, Salesforce, and Spotify. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 19 testimonials and 89% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 568,695 times.
Delivering presentations is an everyday art form that anyone can master. To capture your audience's attention, present your information with ease and confidence. Act as if you are in a conversation with your audience, and they will pay attention to you. To get this level of fluency, write an engaging narrative, use more visuals than text in your slides, and practice, practice, practice.
Rehearsing Your Presentation
- Deliver your summary to them in friendly, direct language, as if you were telling the story to a friend in a bar.
- In fact, you can tell the story to a friend in a bar. However, telling a colleague over coffee can work just as well.
- Get them to tell you what their takeaway was. If they can summarize your message accurately, that's a good sign.
- Ask them to be your coach.
- Give them your presentation once or twice and let them ask you questions and give feedback.
- Ask them to point out moments that are dull or confusing.
- Write down what you're afraid of. What exactly worries you when you give a speech? Looking foolish? Being asked a hard question? Write down your exact fears, and then consider them each individually.
- Think about what you will do in each situation. For instance, if your fear is, "I'll forget what I'm saying," you can prepare a plan like, "If I forget what I'm saying, I'll pause, scan my notes, and find the next important point I need to make."
- Catch your negative thoughts, and calm them. If you think, "I'm going to get nervous and sweaty," replace it with, "I have important information to deliver and everyone is going to pay attention to that."
- Give yourself extra time if you plan to take questions, or if you anticipate lots of digressions.
- This doesn't mean sticking to a strict script every time. Instead, when you rehearse, improvise freely. Deliver your main points, but include quips and anecdotes that occur to you as you go. You'll remember the best ones when you actually deliver the presentation.
Delivering Your Presentation with Confidence
- Remind yourself that your audience likely can't see your nerves.
- Take a deep breath and exhale before you go on stage.
- If there are too many people to really see faces, just look boldly into the crowd.
- Move your hands as you speak. Don't wave them, as this will make you look nervous. Instead, try calmly gesturing with your palm out when you make a point. If you describe a shape, draw it in the air with your hands.
Crafting a Compelling Presentation
- Have a clear through line that runs through all parts of your presentation, leading to your main point.
- Include stories that put your listeners into a situation. Get their energy with tactile details (sound, sight, smell, taste, touch) and descriptions of an emotional state.
- Include moments of reflection in which you share how you felt or feel.
- As always with humor in a work setting, remember that humor varies widely between cultures. Avoid making any jokes that make fun of anybody's sex, gender, race, class, or ability. Remember to "punch up"—if your jokes take someone on, take on someone with more power than you, rather than less.
- If you get nervous, try starting your presentation with a simple joke or a funny story. It will put you and your audience at ease.
- Ask the crowd to consider something or imagine something, and hold a moment of quiet while they do.
- Interactive moments make great pivots from one section of your talk to another.
- Will these be experts, or newcomers to your ideas? If they're experts, you'll need to present them with specific, technical, and new ideas. If they're newcomers, plan to introduce them more generally to your topic, and avoid technical terms.
- Will audience members be on your side from the start, or will they need persuading?
- Will you have a large, faceless crowd, or a small group? If you're working with a small group, you can include them in parts of your presentation through questions, personal digressions, and conversations.
You Might Also Like
- ↑ http://firstround.com/review/This-Advice-From-IDEOs-Nicole-Kahn-Will-Transform-the-Way-You-Give-Presentations/
- ↑ https://www.student.unsw.edu.au/rehearse-your-presentation
- ↑ https://www.comm.pitt.edu/speech-anxiety
- ↑ https://www.unr.edu/writing-speaking-center/student-resources/writing-speaking-resources/speech-anxiety
- ↑ https://www.student.unsw.edu.au/speaking-audience
- ↑ https://www.toastmasters.org/resources/public-speaking-tips/gestures-and-body-language
About This Article
If you're worried about delivering an effective presentation, go over your notes again and make sure your presentation is telling a story with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. This type of structure will make it easier for people to follow along, and when you finish your presentation, they'll be more likely to remember what it was about! If you're still unsure, try practicing in front of other people before the big day. By rehearsing your presentation in advance, you'll not only feel more comfortable when you present it in front of an audience, but you can also get helpful feedback from your peers to make your presentation even better. Alternatively, if you're feeling a little nervous, identify what exactly you're afraid of happening during your presentation, and then come up with a plan for each scenario so you're less stressed about it. For example, if you're worried about forgetting what to say next, you could make a list of all the important points you need to make and have it with you during your presentation. For tips from our Communications co-author, like how to appear confident during a presentation, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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How to Give a Killer Presentation
- Chris Anderson
For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED’s curator, shares five keys to great presentations:
- Frame your story (figure out where to start and where to end).
- Plan your delivery (decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it—over and over).
- Work on stage presence (but remember that your story matters more than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous).
- Plan the multimedia (whatever you do, don’t read from PowerPoint slides).
- Put it together (play to your strengths and be authentic).
According to Anderson, presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance—not style. In fact, it’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. So if your thinking is not there yet, he advises, decline that invitation to speak. Instead, keep working until you have an idea that’s worth sharing.
Lessons from TED
A little more than a year ago, on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, some colleagues and I met a 12-year-old Masai boy named Richard Turere, who told us a fascinating story. His family raises livestock on the edge of a vast national park, and one of the biggest challenges is protecting the animals from lions—especially at night. Richard had noticed that placing lamps in a field didn’t deter lion attacks, but when he walked the field with a torch, the lions stayed away. From a young age, he’d been interested in electronics, teaching himself by, for example, taking apart his parents’ radio. He used that experience to devise a system of lights that would turn on and off in sequence—using solar panels, a car battery, and a motorcycle indicator box—and thereby create a sense of movement that he hoped would scare off the lions. He installed the lights, and the lions stopped attacking. Soon villages elsewhere in Kenya began installing Richard’s “lion lights.”
The story was inspiring and worthy of the broader audience that our TED conference could offer, but on the surface, Richard seemed an unlikely candidate to give a TED Talk. He was painfully shy. His English was halting. When he tried to describe his invention, the sentences tumbled out incoherently. And frankly, it was hard to imagine a preteenager standing on a stage in front of 1,400 people accustomed to hearing from polished speakers such as Bill Gates, Sir Ken Robinson, and Jill Bolte Taylor.
But Richard’s story was so compelling that we invited him to speak. In the months before the 2013 conference, we worked with him to frame his story—to find the right place to begin and to develop a succinct and logical arc of events. On the back of his invention Richard had won a scholarship to one of Kenya’s best schools, and there he had the chance to practice the talk several times in front of a live audience. It was critical that he build his confidence to the point where his personality could shine through. When he finally gave his talk at TED , in Long Beach, you could tell he was nervous, but that only made him more engaging— people were hanging on his every word . The confidence was there, and every time Richard smiled, the audience melted. When he finished, the response was instantaneous: a sustained standing ovation.
Since the first TED conference, 30 years ago, speakers have run the gamut from political figures, musicians, and TV personalities who are completely at ease before a crowd to lesser-known academics, scientists, and writers—some of whom feel deeply uncomfortable giving presentations. Over the years, we’ve sought to develop a process for helping inexperienced presenters to frame, practice, and deliver talks that people enjoy watching. It typically begins six to nine months before the event, and involves cycles of devising (and revising) a script, repeated rehearsals, and plenty of fine-tuning. We’re continually tweaking our approach—because the art of public speaking is evolving in real time—but judging by public response, our basic regimen works well: Since we began putting TED Talks online, in 2006, they’ve been viewed more than one billion times.
On the basis of this experience, I’m convinced that giving a good talk is highly coachable. In a matter of hours, a speaker’s content and delivery can be transformed from muddled to mesmerizing. And while my team’s experience has focused on TED’s 18-minutes-or-shorter format, the lessons we’ve learned are surely useful to other presenters—whether it’s a CEO doing an IPO road show, a brand manager unveiling a new product, or a start-up pitching to VCs.
Frame Your Story
There’s no way you can give a good talk unless you have something worth talking about . Conceptualizing and framing what you want to say is the most vital part of preparation.
Find the Perfect Mix of Data and Narrative
by Nancy Duarte
Most presentations lie somewhere on the continuum between a report and a story. A report is data-rich, exhaustive, and informative—but not very engaging. Stories help a speaker connect with an audience, but listeners often want facts and information, too. Great presenters layer story and information like a cake and understand that different types of talks require differing ingredients.
From Report . . .
(literal, informational, factual, exhaustive).
Research findings. If your goal is to communicate information from a written report, send the full document to the audience in advance, and limit the presentation to key takeaways. Don’t do a long slide show that repeats all your findings. Anyone who’s really interested can read the report; everyone else will appreciate brevity.
Financial presentation. Financial audiences love data, and they’ll want the details. Satisfy their analytical appetite with facts, but add a thread of narrative to appeal to their emotional side. Then present the key takeaways visually, to help them find meaning in the numbers.
Product launch. Instead of covering only specs and features, focus on the value your product brings to the world. Tell stories that show how real people will use it and why it will change their lives.
VC pitch. For 30 minutes with a VC, prepare a crisp, well-structured story arc that conveys your idea compellingly in 10 minutes or less; then let Q&A drive the rest of the meeting. Anticipate questions and rehearse clear and concise answers.
Keynote address. Formal talks at big events are high-stakes, high-impact opportunities to take your listeners on a transformative journey. Use a clear story framework and aim to engage them emotionally.
. . . to Story
(dramatic, experiential, evocative, persuasive).
Nancy Duarte is the author of HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations , Slide:ology , and Resonate . She is the CEO of Duarte, Inc., which designs presentations and teaches presentation development.
We all know that humans are wired to listen to stories, and metaphors abound for the narrative structures that work best to engage people. When I think about compelling presentations, I think about taking an audience on a journey. A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
If you frame the talk as a journey, the biggest decisions are figuring out where to start and where to end. To find the right place to start, consider what people in the audience already know about your subject—and how much they care about it. If you assume they have more knowledge or interest than they do, or if you start using jargon or get too technical, you’ll lose them. The most engaging speakers do a superb job of very quickly introducing the topic, explaining why they care so deeply about it, and convincing the audience members that they should, too.
The biggest problem I see in first drafts of presentations is that they try to cover too much ground. You can’t summarize an entire career in a single talk. If you try to cram in everything you know, you won’t have time to include key details, and your talk will disappear into abstract language that may make sense if your listeners are familiar with the subject matter but will be completely opaque if they’re new to it. You need specific examples to flesh out your ideas. So limit the scope of your talk to that which can be explained, and brought to life with examples, in the available time. Much of the early feedback we give aims to correct the impulse to sweep too broadly. Instead, go deeper. Give more detail. Don’t tell us about your entire field of study—tell us about your unique contribution.
A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
Of course, it can be just as damaging to overexplain or painstakingly draw out the implications of a talk. And there the remedy is different: Remember that the people in the audience are intelligent. Let them figure some things out for themselves. Let them draw their own conclusions.
Many of the best talks have a narrative structure that loosely follows a detective story. The speaker starts out by presenting a problem and then describes the search for a solution. There’s an “aha” moment, and the audience’s perspective shifts in a meaningful way.
If a talk fails, it’s almost always because the speaker didn’t frame it correctly, misjudged the audience’s level of interest, or neglected to tell a story. Even if the topic is important, random pontification without narrative is always deeply unsatisfying. There’s no progression, and you don’t feel that you’re learning.
I was at an energy conference recently where two people—a city mayor and a former governor—gave back-to-back talks. The mayor’s talk was essentially a list of impressive projects his city had undertaken. It came off as boasting, like a report card or an advertisement for his reelection. It quickly got boring. When the governor spoke, she didn’t list achievements; instead, she shared an idea. Yes, she recounted anecdotes from her time in office, but the idea was central—and the stories explanatory or illustrative (and also funny). It was so much more interesting. The mayor’s underlying point seemed to be how great he was, while the governor’s message was “Here’s a compelling idea that would benefit us all.”
Storytelling That Moves People
As a general rule, people are not very interested in talks about organizations or institutions (unless they’re members of them). Ideas and stories fascinate us; organizations bore us—they’re much harder to relate to. (Businesspeople especially take note: Don’t boast about your company; rather, tell us about the problem you’re solving.)
Plan Your Delivery
Once you’ve got the framing down, it’s time to focus on your delivery . There are three main ways to deliver a talk. You can read it directly off a script or a teleprompter. You can develop a set of bullet points that map out what you’re going to say in each section rather than scripting the whole thing word for word. Or you can memorize your talk, which entails rehearsing it to the point where you internalize every word—verbatim.
My advice: Don’t read it, and don’t use a teleprompter. It’s usually just too distancing—people will know you’re reading. And as soon as they sense it, the way they receive your talk will shift. Suddenly your intimate connection evaporates, and everything feels a lot more formal. We generally outlaw reading approaches of any kind at TED, though we made an exception a few years ago for a man who insisted on using a monitor. We set up a screen at the back of the auditorium, in the hope that the audience wouldn’t notice it. At first he spoke naturally. But soon he stiffened up, and you could see this horrible sinking feeling pass through the audience as people realized, “Oh, no, he’s reading to us!” The words were great, but the talk got poor ratings.
Many of our best and most popular TED Talks have been memorized word for word. If you’re giving an important talk and you have the time to do this, it’s the best way to go. But don’t underestimate the work involved. One of our most memorable speakers was Jill Bolte Taylor , a brain researcher who had suffered a stroke. She talked about what she learned during the eight years it took her to recover. After crafting her story and undertaking many hours of solo practice, she rehearsed her talk dozens of times in front of an audience to be sure she had it down.
Obviously, not every presentation is worth that kind of investment of time. But if you do decide to memorize your talk, be aware that there’s a predictable arc to the learning curve. Most people go through what I call the “valley of awkwardness,” where they haven’t quite memorized the talk. If they give the talk while stuck in that valley, the audience will sense it. Their words will sound recited, or there will be painful moments where they stare into the middle distance, or cast their eyes upward, as they struggle to remember their lines. This creates distance between the speaker and the audience .
Getting past this point is simple, fortunately. It’s just a matter of rehearsing enough times that the flow of words becomes second nature. Then you can focus on delivering the talk with meaning and authenticity. Don’t worry—you’ll get there.
But if you don’t have time to learn a speech thoroughly and get past that awkward valley, don’t try. Go with bullet points on note cards. As long as you know what you want to say for each one, you’ll be fine. Focus on remembering the transitions from one bullet point to the next.
Also pay attention to your tone. Some speakers may want to come across as authoritative or wise or powerful or passionate, but it’s usually much better to just sound conversational. Don’t force it. Don’t orate. Just be you.
If a successful talk is a journey, make sure you don’t start to annoy your travel companions along the way. Some speakers project too much ego. They sound condescending or full of themselves, and the audience shuts down. Don’t let that happen.
Develop Stage Presence
For inexperienced speakers, the physical act of being onstage can be the most difficult part of giving a presentation—but people tend to overestimate its importance. Getting the words, story, and substance right is a much bigger determinant of success or failure than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous. And when it comes to stage presence, a little coaching can go a long way.
The biggest mistake we see in early rehearsals is that people move their bodies too much. They sway from side to side, or shift their weight from one leg to the other. People do this naturally when they’re nervous, but it’s distracting and makes the speaker seem weak. Simply getting a person to keep his or her lower body motionless can dramatically improve stage presence. There are some people who are able to walk around a stage during a presentation, and that’s fine if it comes naturally. But the vast majority are better off standing still and relying on hand gestures for emphasis.
How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea
Perhaps the most important physical act onstage is making eye contact. Find five or six friendly-looking people in different parts of the audience and look them in the eye as you speak. Think of them as friends you haven’t seen in a year, whom you’re bringing up to date on your work. That eye contact is incredibly powerful, and it will do more than anything else to help your talk land. Even if you don’t have time to prepare fully and have to read from a script, looking up and making eye contact will make a huge difference.
Another big hurdle for inexperienced speakers is nervousness—both in advance of the talk and while they’re onstage. People deal with this in different ways. Many speakers stay out in the audience until the moment they go on; this can work well, because keeping your mind engaged in the earlier speakers can distract you and limit nervousness. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor who studies how certain body poses can affect power, utilized one of the more unusual preparation techniques I’ve seen. She recommends that people spend time before a talk striding around, standing tall, and extending their bodies; these poses make you feel more powerful. It’s what she did before going onstage, and she delivered a phenomenal talk. But I think the single best advice is simply to breathe deeply before you go onstage. It works.
Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous.
In general, people worry too much about nervousness. Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous. It’s a natural body response that can actually improve your performance: It gives you energy to perform and keeps your mind sharp. Just keep breathing, and you’ll be fine.
Acknowledging nervousness can also create engagement. Showing your vulnerability, whether through nerves or tone of voice, is one of the most powerful ways to win over an audience, provided it is authentic. Susan Cain , who wrote a book about introverts and spoke at our 2012 conference, was terrified about giving her talk. You could feel her fragility onstage, and it created this dynamic where the audience was rooting for her—everybody wanted to hug her afterward. The fact that we knew she was fighting to keep herself up there made it beautiful, and it was the most popular talk that year.
Plan the Multimedia
With so much technology at our disposal, it may feel almost mandatory to use, at a minimum, presentation slides. By now most people have heard the advice about PowerPoint: Keep it simple; don’t use a slide deck as a substitute for notes (by, say, listing the bullet points you’ll discuss—those are best put on note cards); and don’t repeat out loud words that are on the slide. Not only is reciting slides a variation of the teleprompter problem—“Oh, no, she’s reading to us, too!”—but information is interesting only once, and hearing and seeing the same words feels repetitive. That advice may seem universal by now, but go into any company and you’ll see presenters violating it every day.
Many of the best TED speakers don’t use slides at all, and many talks don’t require them. If you have photographs or illustrations that make the topic come alive, then yes, show them. If not, consider doing without, at least for some parts of the presentation. And if you’re going to use slides, it’s worth exploring alternatives to PowerPoint. For instance, TED has invested in the company Prezi, which makes presentation software that offers a camera’s-eye view of a two-dimensional landscape. Instead of a flat sequence of images, you can move around the landscape and zoom in to it if need be. Used properly, such techniques can dramatically boost the visual punch of a talk and enhance its meaning.
Artists, architects, photographers, and designers have the best opportunity to use visuals. Slides can help frame and pace a talk and help speakers avoid getting lost in jargon or overly intellectual language. (Art can be hard to talk about—better to experience it visually.) I’ve seen great presentations in which the artist or designer put slides on an automatic timer so that the image changed every 15 seconds. I’ve also seen presenters give a talk accompanied by video, speaking along to it. That can help sustain momentum. The industrial designer Ross Lovegrove’s highly visual TED Talk , for instance, used this technique to bring the audience along on a remarkable creative journey .
Another approach creative types might consider is to build silence into their talks, and just let the work speak for itself. The kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin used that approach to powerful effect. The idea is not to think “I’m giving a talk.” Instead, think “I want to give this audience a powerful experience of my work.” The single worst thing artists and architects can do is to retreat into abstract or conceptual language.
Video has obvious uses for many speakers. In a TED Talk about the intelligence of crows, for instance, the scientist showed a clip of a crow bending a hook to fish a piece of food out of a tube—essentially creating a tool. It illustrated his point far better than anything he could have said.
Used well, video can be very effective, but there are common mistakes that should be avoided. A clip needs to be short—if it’s more than 60 seconds, you risk losing people. Don’t use videos—particularly corporate ones—that sound self-promotional or like infomercials; people are conditioned to tune those out. Anything with a soundtrack can be dangerously off-putting. And whatever you do, don’t show a clip of yourself being interviewed on, say, CNN. I’ve seen speakers do this, and it’s a really bad idea—no one wants to go along with you on your ego trip. The people in your audience are already listening to you live; why would they want to simultaneously watch your talking-head clip on a screen?
Putting It Together
We start helping speakers prepare their talks six months (or more) in advance so that they’ll have plenty of time to practice. We want people’s talks to be in final form at least a month before the event. The more practice they can do in the final weeks, the better off they’ll be. Ideally, they’ll practice the talk on their own and in front of an audience.
The tricky part about rehearsing a presentation in front of other people is that they will feel obligated to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Often the feedback from different people will vary or directly conflict. This can be confusing or even paralyzing, which is why it’s important to be choosy about the people you use as a test audience, and whom you invite to offer feedback. In general, the more experience a person has as a presenter, the better the criticism he or she can offer.
I learned many of these lessons myself in 2011. My colleague Bruno Giussani, who curates our TEDGlobal event, pointed out that although I’d worked at TED for nine years, served as the emcee at our conferences, and introduced many of the speakers, I’d never actually given a TED Talk myself. So he invited me to give one, and I accepted.
It was more stressful than I’d expected. Even though I spend time helping others frame their stories, framing my own in a way that felt compelling was difficult. I decided to memorize my presentation, which was about how web video powers global innovation, and that was really hard: Even though I was putting in a lot of hours, and getting sound advice from my colleagues, I definitely hit a point where I didn’t quite have it down and began to doubt I ever would. I really thought I might bomb. I was nervous right up until the moment I took the stage. But it ended up going fine. It’s definitely not one of the all-time great TED Talks, but it got a positive reaction—and I survived the stress of going through it.
10 Ways to Ruin a Presentation
As hard as it may be to give a great talk, it’s really easy to blow it. Here are some common mistakes that TED advises its speakers to avoid.
- Take a really long time to explain what your talk is about.
- Speak slowly and dramatically. Why talk when you can orate?
- Make sure you subtly let everyone know how important you are.
- Refer to your book repeatedly. Even better, quote yourself from it.
- Cram your slides with numerous text bullet points and multiple fonts.
- Use lots of unexplained technical jargon to make yourself sound smart.
- Speak at great length about the history of your organization and its glorious achievements.
- Don’t bother rehearsing to check how long your talk is running.
- Sound as if you’re reciting your talk from memory.
- Never, ever make eye contact with anyone in the audience.
Ultimately I learned firsthand what our speakers have been discovering for three decades: Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing.
The single most important thing to remember is that there is no one good way to do a talk . The most memorable talks offer something fresh, something no one has seen before. The worst ones are those that feel formulaic. So do not on any account try to emulate every piece of advice I’ve offered here. Take the bulk of it on board, sure. But make the talk your own. You know what’s distinctive about you and your idea. Play to your strengths and give a talk that is truly authentic to you.
- CA Chris Anderson is the curator of TED.
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Chapter 11 Presentation Skills
11.4 Delivering the Presentation
This section focuses on what to do when presentation day finally arrives. You should be well-prepared and well-poised to communicate interpersonally with a live audience.
You will first learn about how to prepare to present by taking a deeper look at what you should be doing during rehearsals, and considering how you’ll dress comfortably and professionally and how your setup will keep you prepared for what is ahead.
You will learn effective approaches to managing anxiety, such as how to cope with your body’s reaction as well as how to cope with mistakes or surprises that may pop up in the speech, with the technology or through some other external distraction.
Having an understanding of how to read your audience for positive or negative cues is important during and after the presentation. You will learn about interpreting these cues by scanning the audience’s body language during the presentation and during the Q&A.
Finally, you will have a chance to critically reflect on the delivery of a presentation by learning about how to do a self-analysis, as well as give and receive constructive verbal and non-verbal feedback.
Preparing to Present
To deliver your presentation to the best of your ability, and to reduce your nerves once you take the stage, you need to practise by rehearsing . As you do, try to identify the weaknesses in your delivery to improve on them. For example, do you often mis-speak the same words (e.g. pacific for specific ; ax for ask ) or do your hands or feet fidget? Use your practice time to focus on correcting these issues. These sessions should help you get comfortable and help you remember what you want to say without having to constantly refer to notes.
Try practising in front of a mirror, or even recording yourself speaking to a camera and playing it back. It’s also helpful to get feedback from a supportive audience at this stage. Perhaps a few family members or friends could watch you give your presentation and provide some feedback.
If at all possible, access the room where you will be presenting. This way you can get a feel for its setup and decide how you will stand or move during your presentation.
Dress for Success
While there are no definitive guidelines for how you should dress for your presentation, your appearance is an important part of your audience’s first impression. If you want them to take you seriously, you’ll need to look the part. While you don’t have to wear a suit each time you present, there are some scenarios where this would be expected; for example, if you are presenting to a corporate audience who wear suits to work, you should do the same. You should dress one step above your audience. If your audience is going to be dressed casually in shorts and jeans, then wear nice casual clothing such as a pair of pressed slacks and a collared shirt or blouse. If your audience is going to be wearing business casual attire, then you should wear a dress or a suit. If you are presenting to your instructor and classmates, dress better than you normally would in class, to demonstrate you are taking this seriously and you are adding a level of formality.
Another general rule is to avoid distractions in your appearance. Clothing with loud colours and bold patterns, overly tight or revealing garments, or big jangling jewellery can distract your audience’s attention from your message.
Setting Up Your Environment
Depending on the circumstances of your speech or presentation, you may have some choices to make about the environment. Perhaps you have a choice of meeting rooms that you can use, or perhaps you have only one option.
If you have some flexibility, it is helpful to think about what sort of environment would best help you get your message across. For example, if you are running a workshop, you might want to assemble participants in a circle to encourage collaboration and discussion. If you are holding a webinar, you’ll need a quiet location with a strong internet connection and a computer system. It is imperative that you think about what facilities you need well before the day of your presentation arrives. You may have to book equipment or classrooms. Arriving to find that the equipment you expected isn’t available is not a nice surprise for even the most experienced speaker!
If you have access to the location beforehand, you may need to move tables or chairs around to get things just the way you want them. You might choose to have a podium brought in, if you are aiming for a formal feel, for example, or you may need to position your flip chart. Double check that you have all the equipment you need, from whiteboard markers to speakers. It is far better if you can get comfortable with the room before your audience arrives, as this will make you feel more prepared and less nervous.
If you are using technology to support your presentation (i.e. PowerPoint slides or a projector), test everything before you begin. Do a microphone check and test its volume, view your slides on the computer you will be using, check any web links, play videos to test their sound, or make a call to test the phone connection prior to your teleconference. Your audience will get restless quickly if they arrive and are expected to wait while you fix a technical problem. This will also make you seem disorganized and hurt your credibility as an authoritative speaker.
Well before the day of your presentation, ask yourself, What could go wrong? This might sound like a way for a novice presenter to stress oneself out, but it can actually be very helpful. If you anticipate the worst-case scenario and are prepared for it, problems on the day of your presentation are less likely to bother you.
Many of the possible problems can be avoided with preparation . Make sure you have notes with you in case you need them. Dress professionally so that you feel good about how you are presenting yourself. Getting there early to set up and test the equipment will prevent many technical issues, but having a handout with you will make you feel even more comfortable in case you have problems with your slides. Bring a bottle of water in case your throat becomes dry or you need a moment to pause.
Most other problems can be prevented with practice. Rehearse so that you are not reliant on your notes. This way, if a note card goes missing, it’s no big deal. During your rehearsals you’ll get used to pacing yourself, pausing for breath, and monitoring the timing of your speech so that this comes more naturally once you get onstage.
During the Presentation
Studies show that presenters’ nervousness usually peaks at the anticipation stage that occurs one minute before the presentation. They further found that as the speech progresses, nervousness tends to go down. Here are some things you can do to help you manage your anxiety before the presentation:
- Practice/rehearse in similar conditions/setting as your speech
- Be organized
- Think positively
- Analyze your audience
- Adapt your language to speaking style
During the presentation itself, there are four main areas where you can focus attention in order to manage your anxiety:
- Your body’s reaction
- Attention to the audience
- Keeping a sense of humour
- Common stress management techniques
Your Body’s Reaction
Physical movement helps to channel some of the excess energy that your body produces in response to anxiety. If at all possible, move around the front of the room rather than remaining imprisoned behind the lectern or gripping it for dear life (avoid pacing nervously from side to side, however). Move closer to the audience and then stop for a moment. If you are afraid that moving away from the lectern will reveal your shaking hands, use note cards rather than a sheet of paper for your outline. Note cards do not quiver like paper, and they provide you with something to do with your hands. Other options include vocal warm-ups right before your speech, having water (preferably in a non-spillable bottle with a spout) nearby for a dry mouth, and doing a few stretches before going on stage.
Deep breathing will help to counteract the effects of excess adrenaline. You can place cues or symbols in your notes, such as “slow down” or ☺, that remind you to pause and breathe during points in your speech. It is also a good idea to pause a moment before you get started, to set an appropriate pace from the onset. Look at your audience and smile. It is a reflex for some of your audience members to smile back. Those smiles will reassure you that your audience members are friendly.
Attention to the Audience
During your speech, make a point of establishing direct eye contact with your audience members. By looking at individuals, you establish a series of one-to-one contacts similar to interpersonal communication. An audience becomes much less threatening when you think of them not as an anonymous mass but as a collection of individuals.
A gentleman once shared his worst speaking experience: Right before the start of his speech, he reached the front of the room and forgot everything he was supposed to say. When asked what he saw when he was in the front of the room, he gave a quizzical look and responded, “I didn’t see anything. All I remember is a mental image of me up there in the front of the room blowing it.” Speaking anxiety becomes more intense if you focus on yourself rather than concentrate on your audience and your material.
Keeping a Sense of Humour
No matter how well we plan, unexpected things happen. That fact is what makes the public speaking situation so interesting. When the unexpected happens to you, do not let it rattle you. At the end of a class period late in the afternoon of a long day, a student raised her hand and asked the professor if he knew that he was wearing two different-coloured shoes, one black and one blue. He looked down and saw that she was right; his shoes did not match. He laughed at himself, complimented the student on her observational abilities, and moved on with the important thing, the material he had to deliver. People who can laugh at themselves often endear themselves to their audience.
Stress Management Techniques
Even when we use positive thinking and are well prepared, some of us still feel a great deal of anxiety about public speaking. When that is the case, it can be more helpful to use stress management than to try to make the anxiety go away.
Here are two main tools that can help:
- Visualization : Imagine the details of what a successful speech would look and sound like from beginning to end; a way of hypnotizing yourself into positive thinking by using your mind’s eye to make success real.
- Systematic desensitization : Gradual exposure to the thing that causes fear—in this case, giving a speech—can ultimately lead to decreased anxiety. Basically, the more practice you get speaking in front of people, the less fear and anxiety you’ll have about public speaking. Organizations like Toastmasters, that help people confront their fears by providing a supportive environment to learn and practise, are a good option if you have a true phobia around presenting or public speaking.
Using a Microphone
Conditions such as the size of the room and how far away your audience will be sitting should determine whether or not you need a microphone. Many people make the mistake of thinking they don’t need a mic because they can talk loud enough for everyone to hear. They are usually wrong. Unless the crowd is very small, it benefits you to use a microphone. If is very frustrating for people to be watching a presentation that they can’t hear.
If you are using a microphone during your speech, there are a few cautions to be aware of. First, make sure you do a sound check and that you know how the microphone works—how to turn it on and off, how to mute it, and how to raise or lower it. If possible, have it positioned to the height you need before you go onstage. Make sure the microphone does not block your face.
Make sure to find the optimum distance from the microphone to your mouth. This will vary with different sound equipment. For some, the mic needs to be right up against the mouth to get good sound quality. For others, this will cause screeching feedback or will pick up your breathing noises. If you will be using a clip-on microphone (called a lavaliere mic), you’ll need to wear something with a lapel or collar that it can be clipped to. Make sure your hair and jewelery are out of the way to avoid rustling noises, and place the lavaliere microphone 8 to 10 inches below your chin.
If the microphone is on a stand, make sure it is set to the appropriate height. If it is set too high, it is distracting to the audience and if it’s too short, it will cause you to hunch over it, creating bad posture and an uncomfortable position. Often you can take the mic off the stand and use it as a handheld model, which allows you to move around a little more. Doing a sound check and getting comfortable with the equipment before you go onstage will prevent the majority of errors when using a microphone.
Coping with Mistakes and Surprises
Even the most prepared speaker will encounter unexpected challenges from time to time. Here are a few strategies for combating the unexpected in your own presentations.
Speech Content Issues
What if a note card goes missing or you skip important information from the beginning of your speech? While situations like these might seem like the worst nightmare of a novice public speaker, they can be overcome easily. Pause for a moment to think about what to do. Is it important to include the missing information, or can it be omitted without hindering the audience’s ability to understand your speech? If it needs to be included, does the information fit better now or in a later segment? If you can move on without the missing element, that is often the best choice, but pausing for a few seconds to decide will be less distracting to the audience than sputtering through a few “ums” and “uhs.” Situations like these demonstrate why it’s a good idea to have a glass of water with you when you speak. Pausing for a moment to take a sip of water is a perfectly natural movement, so the audience may not even notice that anything is amiss.
Technology has become a very useful aid in public speaking, allowing us to use audio or video clips, presentation software, or direct links to websites. But it does break down occasionally! Web servers go offline, files will not download, or media contents are incompatible with the computer in the presentation room. Always have a backup plan in case of technical difficulties . As you develop your speech and visual aids, think through what you will do if you cannot show a particular graph or if your presentation slides are garbled. Your beautifully prepared chart may be superior to the verbal description you can provide; however, your ability to provide a succinct verbal description when technology fails will give your audience the information they need and keep your speech moving forward.
Unfortunately, one thing that you can’t control during your speech is audience etiquette , but you can decide how to react to it. Inevitably, an audience member will walk in late, a cell phone will ring, or a car alarm will go off outside. If you are interrupted by external events like these, it is often useful and sometimes necessary to pause and wait so that you can regain the audience’s attention.
Whatever the event, maintain your composure . Do not get upset or angry about these glitches . If you keep your cool and quickly implement a “plan B” for moving forward, your audience will be impressed.
Reading Your Audience
Recognizing your audience’s mood by observing their body language can help you adjust your message and see who agrees with you, who doesn’t, and who is still deciding. With this information, you can direct your attention—including eye contact and questions—to the areas of the room where they can have the most impact.
As the speaker, you are conscious that you are being observed. But your audience members probably don’t think of themselves as being observed, so their body language will be easy to read.
Questions and Discussion
As a presenter, it’s a good idea to allow a little time at the end of your presentation to invite questions from the audience and to facilitate a little discussion about the topic. If possible and applicable you can include a bit of interactivity with the audience during the presentation. This goes a long way to getting the audience engaged and interested in the topic.
There are three important elements to think about when incorporating Q&A’s as part of your presentation:
At the beginning of your speech, give the audience a little bit of information about who you are and what your expertise on the subject is. Once they know what you do (and what you know), it will be easier for the audience to align their questions with your area of expertise—and for you to bow out of answering questions that are outside of your area.
Timing of Q&A’s
Questions are easier to manage when you are expecting them. Unless you are part of a panel, meeting, or teleconference, it is probably easier to let the audience know that you will take questions at the end of your presentation. This way you can avoid interruptions to your speech that can distract you and cause you to lose time. If audience members interrupt during your talk, you can then ask them politely to hold on to their question until the Q&A session at the end.
Knowing How to Respond
Never pretend that you know the answer to a question if you don’t. The audience will pick up on it! Instead, calmly apologize and say that the question is outside of the scope of your knowledge but that you’d be happy to find out after the presentation (or, suggest some resources where the person could find out for themselves).
If you are uncertain about how to answer a question, say something like “That’s really interesting. Could you elaborate on that?” This will make the audience member feel good because they have asked an interesting question, and it will give you a moment to comprehend what they are asking.
Sometimes presenters rush to answer a question because they are nervous or want to impress. Pause for a moment, before you begin your answer, to think about what you want to say. This will help you to avoid misinterpreting the question, or taking offense to a question that is not intended that way.
A final tip is to be cautious about how you answer, so that you don’t offend your audience. You are presenting on a topic because you are knowledgeable about it, but your audience is not. It is important not to make the audience feel inferior because there are things that they don’t know. Avoid comments such as “Oh, yes, it’s really easy to do that…” Instead, say something like “Yes, that can be tricky. I would recommend…” Also, avoid a bossy tone. For example, phrase your response with “What I find helpful is…” rather than “What you should do is…”
Critiquing a Presentation
It is often said that we are our own worst critic. Many people are hard on themselves and may exaggerate how poorly a speech or presentation went. Other times, there’s not much exaggeration. In both cases it helps to examine your performance as presenter after the presentation.
You may want to ask yourself:
- Did you make the most of your unique voice? Did the audience seem to understand you?
- Did you make the most of using body language? Did your body confidently support what you were saying?
- Did you use a coherent structure? Did the audience seem to make sense of your presentation? Was it logical?
- Did you show enthusiasm? Did you show the audience you cared about your presentation?
- Did you demonstrate expertise? Did you show your credibility by citing reliable sources and making a distinction between facts and your opinion?
- Did you show that you practised and prepared? Did your confidence show because you implemented a plan that included sufficient rehearsal, contingency plans, and other success strategies?
Honestly asking yourself these questions with the intention of uncovering your strengths and weaknesses should help you to become a better presenter. While it is important to review other kinds of feedback, whether from the audience, your peers, or an instructor, it is also useful to have a realistic understanding of your own performance. This understanding is part of gaining experience and improving as a presenter.
Feedback from Others
As well as doing some self-analysis, it is a good idea to get feedback from others. If your presentation was for your class, you will likely get feedback from your instructor who is marking you. You may also get some feedback from classmates. It would also be wise to ask someone that you trust, who was in the audience, to give you feedback. You can learn a lot from what others tell you. They may have noticed a distracting habit such as twirling your hair, or putting your hands in your pockets, or a lot of ummms. They may also have noticed some real strengths of your presentation that you may not have considered. Whether the comments are positive or constructive criticism, they can be helpful for focusing on, in your next presentation.
Being open to receiving feedback is the only way to have a better picture of your performance as a presenter or speaker. Combining self-analysis with the feedback of your audience or peers is your opportunity to better understand your strengths as a presenter and what resonated well with your audience.
When receiving and making sense of feedback, it is very important to be self-aware and honest with yourself. This honesty will help you distinguish between an environmental situation, a situation that lies with the audience member, or a situation with the presenter.
In this section you learned about useful tools, such as rehearsing, dressing appropriately, and having a contingency plan, that helps you prepare to present to a live audience. You examined approaches that would be useful during the presentation itself, such as keeping a good sense of humour and focusing your attention on your audience to manage anxiety, and what steps to take for a critical review afterwards to close the feedback loop.
- Preparing to present includes rehearsing, deciding what to wear, how to set up the environment, and making an appropriate contingency plan.
- Keeping attention on your audience, a good sense of humour, and knowing stress management techniques are good ways of managing anxiety.
- Mistakes or surprises can happen with the speech, the technology, or through external distractions.
- To effectively critique a presentation, it’s good to balance self-analysis with constructive feedback from others.
Exercise: Check Your Understanding – Presentation Delivery
- To give the audience confidence in your abilities
- To show that you are easy-going and approachable
- To play up your physical attractiveness
- All of the above
- Improvise and make up an answer
- Commit to provide a more thorough answer at a later time
- Spend significant time on the question before responding
- Become hostile and defensive
Further Reading and Links
If you would like to read more tips for great presentations see:
- Presentation Skills (http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/DeafStudiesTeaching/dissert/Presentation%20Skills.htm)
- “Presenting in a Professional Context” in Professional Communication OER by Olds College OER Development Team. Adapted by Mary Shier. CC BY .
- Presentation Skills © Marnie Landon is licensed under a CC BY (Attribution) license
Student Success by Mary Shier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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