45 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Presentation Skills

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Every time you deliver a presentation whether it is at a staff meeting, a sales call to persuade clients, a briefing or a formal presentation at a  conference, everything you do and say is being judged. People will makeup their minds about your competence, intelligence, and overall abilities by how well you come across.  Here are 45 proven and time-tested tips that I have shared with my clients in my keynotes, training and coaching programs to help them transform their presentation skills to boost their credibility, image and personal presence; persuade, motivate and influence others; project poise and professionalism; captivate and engage the audience; develop comfort and confidence and to be clear and concise.

  • Speaker’s commandment #1 – don’t be boring
  • Speaker’s commandment #2 – never wing it.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice – use a video camera of live audience
  • Smile as much as appropriate
  • Turn off your cell phone before arriving
  • Always arrive early — make sure everything works
  • Be prepared to deliver your presentation without slides if something goes wrong
  • Bring backups of anything you may need
  • People are judging you as soon as you walk in the room. Your first impression will be a lasting impression
  • Dress appropriately for your audience
  • Stand by the door and cheerfully greet all attendees as they arrive
  • Never go over the time you’ve been allotted. If possible end early
  • Update your presentation on a regular basis to get the latest trends, thoughts and ideas
  • Always build pauses in your presentations – people need time to absorb your main points
  • Don’t talk down to the audience
  • Be authentic
  • Use vocal variety
  • Be prepared
  • Always pause after laughter
  • Follow the AT&T rule for humor: It needs to be appropriate, timely and tasteful
  • Use relevant stories – this is what people will remember
  • Have a strong opening and a strong closing
  • Always use your own style
  • A presentation is just a conversation
  • Exaggerate your body language and expressions
  • Watch your language —- Be politically correct
  • Avoid talking about sex, politics and religion
  • Be enthusiastic – People are more convinced by your energy, enthusiasm and conviction than by anything else.
  • Every 3 to 5 minutes have a story, anecdote, example, exercise or question
  • Be sensitive to the audience’s wants and needs — Observe body language and words to see if they are into your presentation
  • Always use a remote hand held clicker vs. using the laptop to advance slides
  • Videotape every presentation  and review on a regular basis
  • Know your audience and focus on their needs, challenges and concerns
  • Your presentation is not about you
  • Be careful about topics that may offend your audience
  • Make sure your appearance is appropriate for the group
  • Don’t let negative or critical feedback pull you down. Remember, it’s not personal
  • Always repeat the question and look at everyone when answering
  • Tell people to take out their cell phones during your presentation and twitter ideas, thoughts and best practices.
  • Use new material. Keep up to date with the news, relevant stories, etc.
  • Be prepared if things don’t work. If projector is not working, keep going without it.
  • Stay energized and motivated while presenting your material (unless you are performing a eulogy at a funeral). However don’t get too carried away and speak so quickly that your audience can’t keep up.
  • Make sure all presentations have a combination of interactivity, fun and content.
  • If a couple people give you bad reviews out of a room of 50 ignore them.
  • Be genuine while at the same time entertaining. Don’t overdo it with too much drama. Vaudeville will only get you so far. People are paying for content as well as entertainment.  If they wanted to see a drama, they’ll go see a play. If they want “just” comedy, they’ll go see a stand-up comic. Blend it together.