How to be a fabulous presenter

Today I attended a networking meeting attended by various consultants and coaches. The event had three fabulous speakers who talked about Power Presentations.

The speaker, Luan de Burgh of the de Burgh group had AMAZING presence on stage. The key points that I took from his presentation:

  • start with a story
  • practice your start more than everything else in your presentation because first impressions count
  • move around on stage and move around with purpose
  • it’s ok to use your hands to talk, use them expressively
  • count to 3 at the end of a sentence so that you pause
  • use variety of tone and pace
  • getting rid of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ in your speech comes with practice

The next speaker was Graham Seymour of Shopper Anonymous. He reiterated how first impressions count. He talked about the ‘customer service delusion’ or gap between what a company believes is exceptional customer service, and what the customer perceives as exceptional customer service. And often that gap is huge!  He told the story of how Jan Carlzon who took over as CEO of Scandinavian Airlines Systems and change the company’s fortunes. Jan Carlzon wrote about Moments of Truth. Those touchpoints when we connect with our clients or prospective clients. How if the first person gives 80% ‘perceived’ customer service, the next person who has a touchpoint with the client or customer, has to work even harder to get you back to 100% perceived customer service.

Then finally we heard from Lee Jackson, a motivational speaker and author of PowerPoint Surgery. Lee emphasised the need to “debullet” your PowerPoint (or Keynote or Prezi) presentations. Again, humans want a story. Use more visuals, and kill off your bullet points. His presentation has certainly given me food for thought as I prepare my next webinars. Lee has lots of experience talking in schools too, so after his talk, he was generous with his time and gave me a few tips to help me prepare for the talks I’m doing for teenagers at a local school’s career fair and at Technopop next month.

Three great speakers with some really helpful tips.  What about you, what’s your top tip for being a fabulous presenter?



8 thoughts on “How to be a fabulous presenter

  1. Hi Sherry

    Great ideas above. Here a few I would recommend, having been a corporate presenter in the past.

    * Humour. Laughter is memorable and keeps an audience in your thrall. You don’t have to be ‘hilarious.’ Even the occasional moment will leave an impression and hold the interest of your audience.
    * Connect visually with your audience. If it’s an intimate venue, meet peoples’ eyes. You won’t be able to do this in a large theatre, but each venue is different, so present in the style that suits your venue.
    * Encourage reactions. (A smile, a laugh, a wave, hand up in the air, a nod, a yes, a no, get your audience doing stuff, also connecting with each other, if you can work that into your talk). Animating the room and keeping them ‘thinking’ keeps them ‘with you.’
    * Deliver bespoke content. i.e. tailor a presentation to your audience. A generic talk is around 90% generic and 10% tailored to each audience. There’s no hard and fast rule on that balance, but tailoring a speech makes it personal. And in turn, that connects you with your audience more directly.
    * Enjoy yourself. The majority of any audience will always be relieved it’s you, not them, on stage. They will sense your enjoyment and their response will reflect that. Fear will drive them inwards and create a general tension in the room for everyone.
    * Project. People often mumble on stage. Hold your head straight, don’t look down. And open your mouth as you would when you speak with friends/colleagues/family. (Better to use left to right prospect auto cue than look at notes but if you have to look at notes, be sure to know your presentation well enough that you only need to refer to keywords/phrases as a bullet point reminder on cards. There’s nothing worse than watching someone’s parting and their nose buried in a script.
    * Use your ‘lower register.’ This is about your voice. People get squeaky when they’re nervous. Breathe slowly (personally, I wouldn’t recommend counting to 3 myself – although it may work for some people). I think I’d spot someone doing that as it’s not the way we would ‘usually’ speak and I would encourage you to aim to be as natural as possible. I would suggest taking slow breaths and reminding yourself you’re great at what you do (before you step up to present). Really enjoying the experience will slow down your voice naturally and that, in itself, will bring your voice down to it’s natural level, rather than up a tone, although for the highlights of your presentation, there will be exciting content and varying your voice level to demonstrate your passion is good too!
    * Pace. The notes you’ve written above are spot on regarding this. Also, don’t be afraid of silence. Again, it refers back to the counting thing. If you are comfortable with your presentation, you won’t feel a silence to be a negative. It simply allows the audience to take in what you’re saying. Relax about that and your pace will steady itself into a comfortable one for both you AND your audience throughout your presentation. 🙂
    * How You Come Across. Be YOU. If you try to be someone else, it won’t work. If you move your hands, great! If you don’t, that’s fine too. Just don’t be completely stiff. Walk as you normally would. Move as you normally would. Don’t ‘force’ anything. You will find your own groove. Be honest about who you are and you will present yourself in a natural and un-forced way.
    *If you start with a story, it’s quite nice – if you can craft your presentation this way – to end by referring back to that story and conclude it. It can give a presentation a beginning, middle and end. Very satisfying for an audience.
    * If it’s your own content, write sincerely and deliver with conviction (i.e. if YOU believe in your message, why wouldn’t your audience?)
    * Smile. There’s nothing worse than a miserable looking presenter and it’s actually hard to ‘forget’ to smile when you’re working hard to think about all the things you need to do in order to be a good presenter! 🙂

    Hope this helps you in some way.


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