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5 Tips to Improve Presentations

I am an avid Toastmaster at my company and within our District 31 leadership. At my company, back in the days when we held live, in-person meetings, I watched my colleagues speak and thought, oh, they would benefit from some basics about giving a good presentation.


So I put together a short presentation about 5 best practices to improve your presentations but never got to give it. Giving a quality presentation is not as easy as it seems, even for experienced speakers. I remember watching an Executive at my company make more than 100 speaking errors in a 10-minute span before I stopped counting. Several other top Executives practice poor speaking habits too, and these are people with thousands of hours of public presentations.


Here are my 5 basic tips to improve your presentations:


Tip 1: Face the Audience


DO

  • Always face your audience when you are talking.

DON'T

  • Avoid talking to the screen, especially while you are pointing at something on it.






Tip 2: Use Your Eyes


DO

  • Scan the audience.

  • Make periodic eye contact with different people throughout the audience.

DON'T

  • Avoid staring down and constantly reading from your computer or printed text.


Tip 3: Use a Strong Voice


DO

  • Speak in a strong, clear voice.

  • Use standard speed with clear diction.

  • Use vocal variety.

  • Face and speak to different sections of the audience, depending on audience size.

DON'T

  • Mumble.

  • Talk too fast.

  • Talk with a monotone voice.

  • Talk down to your computer.

  • Talk to the screen.




Tip 4: Incorporate Gestures and Movement


DO

  • Add gestures to reinforce points.

  • Use movement to signal a change of subject or section.

  • Use movement to capture your audience’s attention.

DON'T

  • Avoid constantly pacing back and forth like a caged lion.

  • Avoid talking while walking.



Tip 5: Present More Visual Content

DO

  • Use more images and less text.

  • Explain your points from the images, not by reading the text.

  • Consider whether the audience can read the font size used.

DON'T

  • Overstuff content into slides.

  • Never read the printed text back to the audience. People dislike that.

Summary

If you practice on implementing these 5 tips, your presentations will improve dramatically. For practice in a stress-free environment, I encourage you to attend a Toastmasters meeting. There are over 350,000 clubs in the world and most of them are holding virtual meetings now due to the Covid-19 issue. Go to Toastmasters.org and find a club near you. Good luck with your speaking journey!


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