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Presentations can make or break a person’s career; close a sale or ruin a deal; and secure investors or create a lackluster investor response. The presentation tips that follow were shared by award-winning Toastmasters speaker, airplane pilot, and business consultant Jennifer Christiano. Use these tips to improve every presentation you make, no matter the size of your audience.

“Improve your public speaking skills by overcoming seven demons that destroy, or limit, effective communication,” says Christiano. Here are the seven “demons.”

  1. “UMMM” Monsters – Workplace spoke to these language fillers in the February 25, 2019 blog. The message remains. Remove filler language from your daily speech and presentations. These monsters make you sound less intelligent. Overcome them by:
    1. Preparing in advance so that you know what you want to say.
    1. Using notes to make your points.
    1. Pausing … just a pause when you sense that filler language is about to come out of your mouth gives you a moment to regroup and continue sounding intelligent.
    1. Thinking on your feet with impromptu speeches. Ask your partner or co-workers, or even your kids, to pose an offbeat question every day that you must speak to for two minutes, right on the spot. This will help you overcome the UMMM monster.
  2. Verbal “Quicksand” – Unconnected ideas create mental quicksand. Create a logical flow of ideas to direct audience attention. Be clear and concrete. Provide endings and conclusions with clear action points. Overcome verbal quicksand with these additional positive presentation tips.
    1. Define problems and goals in ways that connect with your organization’s mission and objectives.
    1. Identify two to three take-home points. Repeat these points throughout your presentation.
    1. Keep each section of your presentation short. Less is more. In today’s world, short is memorable.
  3. Audience Boredom – People are increasingly distracted by data, technology, texts, videos, and their own thoughts. Be clear about what your message contains for the listeners so that they can immediately identify why they should tune in to you and tune everything else out for the duration of your presentation. Fight boredom by:
    1. Telling more stories – that are relevant to your points and take-aways.
    1. Showing pictures – that are relevant and description of your message.
    1. Asking the audience questions. Great questions: focus on the issues at hand, are phrased in a way that encourages specific answers, and uncover facts to get at the real problems an organization is facing.
  4. Distracting Mannerisms – Filler language sometimes fits here, so does rattling the change in your pocket, playing with jewelry, and pacing the room. Stop these distractions by:
    1. Emptying your pockets.
    1. Planting your feet to create a strong, steady presentation platform for yourself.
    1. Breathing is key to managing and stopping your pacing.
    1. Videotaping yourself will help you identify just what you do that may be distracting others.
  5. “Ghostly” speech – Ghostly speech occurs when speakers do not support their voices with their breathing or their bodies. Use the services and talents of every part of the body to tell your story most effectively (head, eyes, hands, trunk, legs, and feet where fitting). Banish ghostly speech by:
    1. Creating vocal variety. No one will listen to the same tone of voice for more than three seconds. Engage listeners by using vocal variety.
    1. Making a plan. Consider which portions of your presentation will benefit from specific body movements or expressions. Palms up and open arms are inviting and honest. Lean forward to make points; lean back to draw the audience in.
  6. High Horse speaking – Excellent presenters speak with the audience, not at them. Great presentations are interactive experiences that engage the needs and emotions of the audience and allow people to discover truths and ideas for themselves. Slay the High Horse by:
    1. Relieving your own tension. Clear your mind. Release the tension in your face and body. Breathe deeply.
    1. Believing in what you say.
    1. Triggering a learning need in your audience members. Frame the topic in a way that prompts listeners to care and learn.
  7. Flubbing Up – mistakes happen. The show must go on. Keep going. Don’t let a flub or mistake derail you. Instead:
    1. Ignore them and just keep going.
    1. Correct them if need be. Make the correction and move on with your presentation.
    1. Cover them with humor by acknowledging the mis-spoken word or phrase and moving on with the corrected language.
    1. Forgive yourself and keep going, keep making presentations.

Thanks to: Jennifer Christiano, M.A. of Precisions Approach Communications for sharing these tips with Workplace.

Workplace: Managing the moments of our day-to-day business lives takes work. Together, let’s explore what issues and activities affect us every day (or some days) that we go to work. – Jana

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