Our Blog: The Podium

Ready to Be a Great Speaker?

By David Calusdian, President

Seven Essential Tips for Public Speaking SuccessMic

One of the most interesting aspects of my 25 years of coaching C-suite leaders to deliver compelling presentations is the sheer variety of personalities I’ve come across. The role of a good coach, be it in football, chess, or public speaking, is to get the most out of the trainee’s individual abilities. While every speaker is unique in terms of style, strengths and weaknesses, there are a few pieces of advice that I share with nearly everyone I work with.

Here are my top seven tips for making the most of your next presentation:  

1. Bring the Energy!  

A presentation can fall flat when the speaker doesn’t sound excited about their own topic. Passion is critical to persuasion. Very often, your energy may wane as the presentation goes on, so give yourself a mental cue to remember to boost your energy as you go along. For example, think “energy” every time you click to the next slide. Are you passionate about your topic?  Show it!

2. Be Conversational.  

Your audience will be more engaged if you’re speaking with them instead of at them. Think of your presentation as a conversation versus a speech. Deliver your content in the same way as if you were speaking with your best friend over lunch. You’ll come across more naturally and will better engage with your audience.

3. Use Vocal Variety.  

One important way to bring passion to your presentation is through the use of vocal variety. Even if you are speaking with a good level of energy, if you have the same vocal tone, pacing and decibel level the entire time, your audience may lose focus. Look for opportunities in your presentation to accentuate key points or exciting facts or figures by making your voice softer or louder, faster or slower, casual or dramatic. Such changes in your voice can grab the audience’s attention and punctuate the points you are making.  

4. Avoid Negative Body Language.  

Holding your hands behind your back or keeping them in your pockets can be a subconscious signal that you are uncomfortable with what you are saying. To an audience member trained in body language (and many buy-side investors are!), that can be an indication of deception. Similarly, avoid putting a hand in front of your mouth while speaking. In addition to muffling your voice, this is another potential deception signal, as if you’re subconsciously trying to keep the words from coming out.

5. Keep Those Hands Moving.  

One of the questions I get most often is what speakers should do with their hands. During a presentation, keep your hands moving to bring energy to the speech and accentuate key points. But don’t overthink it, just do what you would do in everyday conversation. Keep it natural.

6. Get Away From That Podium.  

Ready to go from good to great?  Step away from the podium. Removing that unnatural barrier will allow you to use positive body language most effectively and make a deeper connection between you and the audience. But if you must use a podium, be sure not to hold onto it for dear life. This reduces the energy that comes from positive hand gestures and turns the podium into even more of a wall between you and your audience.

7. Ditch the Notes.

Your audience will expect you to know your subject matter inside and out. Why else would they spend their valuable time to hear you speak? Your credibility will soar if you’re able to deliver your presentation without having to read a script or even glance at your notes. Come out from behind the podium and have an engaging conversation with your audience using effective body language. 

We’ve helped hundreds of C-Level officers to deliver persuasive and engaging presentations. From message development, to delivery and Q&A, we know how to help you capture the attention of your key stakeholders.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you find success at your next presentation.

Sharon Merrill Associates, Presentation Training, Public Speaking, Investor Relations, IR Trends

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