Body Language

Use a neutral body position as your foundation: both feet on the floor, facing forward, arms at your sides. Appropriate gesturing with your hands during the presentation is an effective technique.

Do Not Use Superiority Gestures

Do not use body gestures or postures that project an air of superiority, such as crossing your arms.

No Hands in Pockets

Unless your presentation is a casual affair, do not speak with your hands in your pockets.

Do not Turn Your Back to the Audience

Do not speak with your back to the audience. You should not be speaking to your slides, they don’t listen.

Do Not Block the Screen

Do not stand between any audience member and the screen. Remember, that just because you are not standing in front of the projector, you may still be blocking some audience members from seeing the screen. Check standing positions during your setup before your presentation to know which floor positions to avoid so that you do not block the projector.

Audience Discomfort

Do not do anything that will make your audience uncomfortable. I once read some advice on public speaking that said one way to allay the fear of public speaking to a large audience is to pretend there is only one person in the audience and to speak to that one person. I was the victim of this technique, where the speaker pretended that there was only one person I the audience and I was that person. He spoke to me for one hour. This was extremely uncomfortable not only for me but for the entire audience. They felt my pain. Of course, this huge distraction and discomfort rendered the presentation completely ineffective. As a result the audience did not remember much of the presentation. When you are speaking, scan the entire audience from time to time, making visual contact with as many as you can.

Asking Questions

Asking questions of the audience may lead to audience discomfort. Think about why you need the answers from the audience and how this technique supports your key messages. When I am delivering my Better Presentations Seminar, I do not ask the audience “How many of you have given a presentation in the last month?” Think about your own reaction when a speaker asks the audience to raise their hand in response to questions such as this? Are you comfortable or do you react like most audience members by not participating or raising your hand weakly as a courtesy to the speaker.

Why is it important to know this? Will you change your presentation dynamically depending on how many people respond to your questions? If not, then why do it?

For example, when I talked about the introduction of the iPod, I could have asked the audience “How many have seen the presentation that introduced the iPod”?

Is the number of people that raise their hands of any value to your presentation?

Does the result support your key messages?

There is no right answer so the results are not meaningful and are usually inaccurate.

Do Not Point

Worst yet is when a speaker points to one audience member and asks them a question. For example, if I were to point to someone and ask “When is the last time you gave a presentation?” This is aggressive behaviour and other audience members will get nervous because they do not want to be your next victim.

A direct question makes the person feel very uncomfortable and maybe stupid if they don’t answer. Besides, there is no correct answer

Audience gets uncomfortable because there are on notice that this technique may be used again

Voice Modulation

Vary your voice intonation, volume, speed. Practice this with someone listening and ask for their honest feedback.

Laser Pointer?

When you use a laser pointer, you are inviting the audience to direct your attention to the screen, taking the attention away from you. Why do presenters use laser pointers? This puzzled me for a long time and then I figured it out. Presenters use laser pointers when their slides are so complex that they have to focus the audience’s attention to a small area of the slide which they will be speaking to. This reveals a problem that should be solved during your preparation phase. Reduce the complexity of slides so that you do not need to guide an audience through a slide bit by bit using a laser pointer.

Remote Control

To avoid bending over the keyboard on your laptop, use a wireless control device to advance your slides.




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