Eight Easy Ways to Improve Your Presentations
By Jerry D. Posner
professional speaker and training specialist


We’ve all heard the clichés about the terrors of public speaking. For some, the terrors are quite real! I’ve been present when one speaker fainted, and I’ve seen numerous people at the podium looking like the deer in the headlights – eyes wide, mouth open, and no sound being made! Since you might be called upon to address an audience, I wanted to share a few of my favorite methods to increase the likelihood of your success!

1. Choose and memorize a quotation that resonates with your values and personality, and elegantly segues to your topic. Leading your speech or presentation with a great quotation breaks the ice, and reduces any stress you might associate with uttering those important first words. My favorite? Dr. Martin Luther King was quoted as saying, “We may have all come on different ships… but we're in the same boat now!” Send me an e-mail to posgroup@aol.com and I’ll reply with some excellent quotations I've collected.

2. Psych yourself up in the positive ways you prefer – positive affirmations, visualizations, jumping jacks – whatever gets you in a positive, flowing state. Avoid negative self-talk and awfulizing.

3. Get there REALLY early. NEVER be late! As you drive to your meeting, warm up your voice by singing, laughing and speaking. Make outrageous funny faces to loosen up your facial muscles. When you arrive, walk around the empty room and get comfortable. Breathe deeply. Smile.

4. As people arrive, greet them warmly and shake their hand. If you've never met them before, introduce yourself and learn their name. Try repeating it a few times and associating his or her name with someone you already know with the same name. “Hi Susan … my sister's name is Susan.” “Hi Eric,” (in your mind: Eric … like Eric Clapton). Make some small talk. My favorite leading question is, “Susan, where are you from?” Or, “Eric, did you grow up here?”

5. Don't forget to smile. You want to make friends with your audience.

6. Have one really good prop that makes a point. I often use different colored sunglasses to illustrate that people have preconceived notions and different points-of-view. Test your prop ahead of time with trusted colleagues, to make sure it works. I think it is better to use NO prop than a prop that doesn't hit the mark.

7. Have one or two really good personal stories that reinforce your message. I have found that personal stories are often the most memorable parts of my speeches. Telling jokes can be tricky. You can lose your whole audience with one inappropriate story or unfunny joke. Test your material beforehand. When in doubt, don't tell the joke!

8. Choose to make the experience as fun as you can! If you are having a good time, your audience probably will also.
Knowing any of these techniques will not make you a better speaker. However, practicing and using them, will! So, print out this article, pick the two, three or four points that you like the most, and experiment with them.

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