Public Speaking Skills for learners of English ;Tips and tricks to becoming a competent presenter

10+ Top Public Speaking Tips (To Help You Improve Quickly)

What are three take-home points? Ice-breakers work for some and not for others. Unless you're exceptionally charming, it's important that any attention-grabbing anecdotes are relevant to the talk. Any offbeat attention-getters need to vary if there's a chance of audience overlap Patricia Gongal, communications consultant for life science researchers.

If you're using PowerPoint, stand to the left of the slide to make sure you don't obscure your points, and follow Weismann's hockey stick principle, that audiences eyes scan the slide rather than read from left to right and top down Louise Stansfield. Try to avoid using lots of words on text. Think wisely about the images you display. Using photos of cute little pigs may work well in your country, but maybe not as well in Israel and the Muslim world Jonathan Wilson.

Asking if you are being heard clearly instantly endears you to the audience and it's something to ease you into speaking Liz Sheffield, senior lecturer at the University of Manchester. You can also use the venue's wifi, a hotspot from your iPhone, or a Bluetooth connection to remotely control the slide transitions on the iPad. This immediately frees you from the podium, which can give allow you to stand and move around with more comfort and confidence Jamesbrownontheroad. Swot up on geography, politics, culture, and basic facts. When you arrive, read the local press and watch some local TV.

It's easy to get complacent coming from the UK, where everyone knows about your references, but how much do you know about theirs? Make use of the free tutorials, websites and tips on communicating on the web Darren O'Neill, learning technologist at the Centre for Academic Practice and eLearning , and do dry runs or warm-up gigs with students in class to practice Jonathan Wilson.

It's also good to have an academic mentor who is willing to give you good and hard feedback when you need it Andrew Crines. Peer mentoring can be helpful, but if there's no provision for this at your institution you can always do it informally Liz Sheffield. It's important to remember that when somebody 'attacks' the speaker or is nasty, the audience is automatically on the speaker's side.

Nobody likes to feel uncomfortable listening to a presentation and this is exactly what happens when the speaker is attacked. This is true whether the speaker has got something wrong or not Bridog. Deal with difficult questions through humour, maintaining your cool, and sidelining "come and talk to me after the presentation" , bouncing the question back to the questioner. It's a bit naughty, but sometimes I'll say, "that's an excellent question.

I wonder whether anyone else in the audience has a view on this? For mischievous questioning, be straightforward and ask people to 'bottom line' their question. For off-topic questions, a one-sentence answer plus an offer to discuss afterwards is appropriate. Other useful phrases are: For difficult questions, admit you don't know the answer and explain why. Alternatively, make an educated guess Patricia Gongal.

Always avoid being negative or defensive because then your ego seems to take over Btodish, commenter. Think about what you liked and what could have been improved.

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Play to your strengths, but remember being a great speaker has to be worked at and comes through more preparation and practice than people think. Aim to open people's mind to something new. Think to yourself, why should my audience want to listen? Never underestimate the audience. This will ensure you are kept on your toes and put the work in to deliver the perfect presentation Bhavik Patel.

If you're not passionate about your presentation you have to question why you're doing it in the first place Bhavik Patel. When you are a presenter you are in charge. The audience generally accepts this, and you are within your rights to control anyone who does not. Remember also that "Depth of conviction counts more than height of logic, and enthusiasm is worth more than knowledge", which is apparently attributed to David Peebles, about whom I have no further details - please let me know if you do.

As well, people retain more if they are enjoying themselves and feeling relaxed. Enjoyment and humour are mostly in the preparation. These effects are not easily produced spontaneously. You don't need to be a natural stand-up comedian to inject enjoyment and humour into a presentation or talk. It's the content that enables it, which is very definitely within your control. Smiling helps a lot. It will relax you and the audience.

In addition to giving you a relaxed calm appearance, smiling actually releases helpful 'happy' chemicals into your nervous system, and makes you feel good. So does taking a few deep slow breaths make you feel relaxed - low down from the pit of your stomach - before you take to the stage. Avoid starting with a joke unless you are supremely confident - jokes are high risk things at the best of times, let alone at the start of a presentation.

I was sent this excellent and simple idea for a presentation - actually used in a job interview - which will perhaps prompt similar ideas and adaptations for your own situations. At the start of the presentation the letters T, E, A, and M - fridge magnets - were given to members of the audience. At the end of the presentation the speaker made the point that individually the letters meant little, but together they made a team.

This powerful use of simple props created a wonderful connection between start and finish, and supported a concept in a memorable and impactful way. There is a big difference between telling a joke and injecting enjoyment and humour US spelling, humor into your talk. Enjoyment and humour are safe. A joke requires quite a special skill in its delivery. Joke-telling is something of an art form.

How to improve your English speaking skills (by yourself)

Only a few people can do it well without specific training. A joke creates pressure on the audience to laugh at a critical moment. A joke creates tension - that's why it's funny when it works. This tension equates to an expectation in the listener, which produces a small degree of pleasure when the joke works well, but a very unhelpful awkwardness if the joke is not well-delivered or well-received. A joke also has the potential to offend, and jokes are culturally very sensitive - different people like different jokes.

Even experienced comedians can 'die' on stage if their jokes and delivery are at odds with the audience type or mood. On the other hand, enjoyment and humour are much more general, they not dependent on creating a tension or the expectation of a punchline. Enjoyment and humour can be injected in very many different ways - for example a few funny quotes or examples; a bit of audience participation; an amusing prop; an amusing picture or cartoon; an amusing story not a joke. Another way to realise the difference between jokes and enjoyment is consider that you are merely seeking to make people smile and be mildly amused - not to have them belly-laughing in the aisles.

Generally try to avoid starting a presentation with an apology - unless you've really made a serious error, or an apology is part of your plans, or an intentional humorous device. Usually audiences will forgive you far more than you forgive yourself. Apologising for trivial matters can cause audiences to feel uncomfortable, and may also give the impression that you are not in control or confident.

Presentation Skills and Techniques

If you do have to apologise for something, make the apology briefly and clearly, and if possible try to make light of it unless it's really serious of course. It is normal to make mistakes, and even the most experienced professional speakers and presenters make mistakes, so just relax and keep calm if when you make one. In acknowledging minor mistakes it is usually better to keep the mood light and relaxed, with phrases such as or similar approaches:. You might have noticed the experimental 'deliberate mistake' icebreaker this morning refer to the mistake.

Could you split into groups of three; analyse the situation, and prepare a two-minute presentation as to how the 'corrective-action loop' might be applied to minimize the chances of this happening again Try to start on time even if some of the audience is late. Waiting too long undermines your confidence, and the audience's respect for you.

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That's why it's important to make sure that you engage your audience right away. Only a few people can do it well without specific training. It is generally easier to deliver and manage a presentation if you tell the audience to ask their questions at the end. Or if you are short of content, you can expand the presentation material accordingly, or take longer to explain the content you already have. These tips aren't meant to totally replace public speaking practice, but you can use them to improve your public speaking skills. Practice it in its rough form , which is effectively a 'read-through' rather than a fully formed presentation with all aids and equipment.

The average attention span of an average listener is apparently according to various sources I've seen over the years between five and ten minutes for any single unbroken subject. Younger 'Playstation' and 'texter' generations will have even less tolerance than this, so structure your content accordingly. So presentations which are longer than this time should include a reason for the audience to move a little, or ideally stand up and move about, after about 40 minutes.

Break up the content so that no single item takes longer than a few minutes, and between each item try to inject something amusing, amazing, remarkable or spicy - a picture, a quote, a bit of audience interaction - anything to break it up and keep people attentive. Staying too long ten minutes or more on the same subject in the same mode of delivery will send people into a trance-like state, when they are not properly listening, watching or concentrating on the presentation - often called the MEGO state My Eyes Glaze Over.

So break it up, and inject diversions and variety - in terms of content and media the different ways you can communicate to people or engage their interest. Think of it like this - the audience can be stimulated via several senses - not just audio and visual listening and watching - consider including content and activity which addresses the other senses too - touch certainly - taste maybe, smell maybe - anything's possible if you use your imagination. The more senses you can stimulate the more your audience will remain attentive and engaged.

You can use content and activities to stimulate feelings, emotions, memories, and even physical movement. Simply asking the audience to stand up, or snap their fingers, or blink their eyes assuming you give them a good reason for doing so immediately stimulates physical awareness and involvement. Passing several props or samples around is also a great way to stimulate physical activity and involvement. Quotes are a wonderful and easy way to stimulate emotions and feelings, and of course quotes can be used to illustrate and emphasise just about any point or concept you can imagine.

Research and collect good quotations and include then in your notes. Memorise one or two if you can because this makes the delivery seem more powerful. Interestingly, Bobby Kennedy once famously failed to credit George Bernard Shaw when he said that "Some men see things as they are and ask 'why? Failing to attribute a quote undermines a speaker's integrity and professionalism. Conversely, giving credit to someone else is rightly seen as a positive and dignified behaviour. Having quotes and other devices is important to give your presentation depth and texture, as well as keeping your audience interested So don't just speak at people.

Give them a variety of content, and different methods of delivery - and activities too if possible. Be daring and bold and have fun. Use props and pass them around if you can. The more senses you can stimulate the more fun your audience will have and the more they'll remember.

Some trainers of public speaking warn that passing props around can cause a loss of control or chaos.

This is true, and I argue that it's good. It's far better to keep people active and engaged, even if it all needs a little additional control. Better to have an audience slightly chaotic than bored to death. Planned chaos is actually a wonderful way to keep people involved and enjoying themselves. Clap your hands a couple of times and say calmly "Okay now - let's crack on," or something similarly confident and un-phased, and you will be back in control, with the audience refreshed for another minutes.

For example a bag of fresh lemons works well: Here are examples of fun, humour, interest, participation and diversion that you can use to bring your presentation to life, and keep your audience attentive and enjoying themselves. Some people in the presentation field refer to these presentational elements as 'spice'. Like the spice of a meal, spice in a presentation gives it a lift - stimulates the senses, and adds texture and richness.

Here are examples of the many sorts of 'spice' elements you can add to a presentation:. For long presentations of more than an hour or two, such as training sessions, aim to have a 'rest' break every minutes for people to get up and stretch their legs, otherwise you'll be losing their attention regardless of the amount of variety and diversion 'spice' you include.

Take the pressure off yourself by not speaking all the time. Get the audience doing things, and make use of all the communications senses available. A verbal or written description is only fractionally as memorable as actually seeing anything which has more than a basic level of complexity. Some people refer to the following figures on the subject of information retention, which are taken from Edgar Dale's theory called the Cone of Experience:. The original work by Edgar Dale was considerably more than a line of statistics. The ideas date back to , and are subject to debate and different interpretation.

These figures should therefore be regarded as much more symbolic than scientifically accurate, especially when quoted out of the context of Edgar Dale's wider work. So use visual aids a lot in your presentations. Your voice is not the only or main tool at your disposal. Get visuals working fully for you, and your presentations will be more engaging, and a lot easier for you to deliver and enjoy.

For printed visual aids with several paragraphs of text, use serif fonts a font is a typeface for quicker readability. For computer and LCD projectors use sans serif fonts, especially if the point size letter size is quite small. Arial is a sans serif font. Times is a serif font. A serif font has the extra little cross-lines at the ends of the strokes of the letters. Interestingly, serif fonts originated in the days of engraving, before printing, when the engraver needed a neat exit from each letter. Extensive sections of text can be read more quickly in serif font because the words have a horizontal flow, but serif fonts have a more old-fashioned traditional appearance than sans serif, and so stylistically can seem old-fashioned, which does not fit certain presentations.

Marketing departments usually keep this information. Whatever - try to select fonts and point sizes that are the best fit for your medium and purpose.

Presentations skills and public speaking skills are very useful in many aspects of work and life. Tips for using visual aids in presentations and public speaking "Most people would prefer to be lying in the casket rather than giving the eulogy." Incidentally the English translation of Tirrukural comprises various chapters. These tips will help you master public speaking in the boardroom, at a 6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills to give a toast or a speech, while others of us would much rather sprint as fast as . “Your personality comes through much better and you look more competent and confident.”.

If in doubt simply pick a good readable serif font and use it big and bold about pt for headings, and 14 - 16 point size for the body text. Absolutely avoid using upper case capital letters in lots of body text, because people need to be able to read word-shapes as well as the letters, and of course upper-case capital letters makes every word a rectangle, which takes much longer to read, and becomes uncomfortable and tiring. Upper-case is acceptable for short headings if you really must use it, but even for headings lower-case lettering is best.

See also the writing tips on this website for good general guidance and tips about writing effectively, so that your audience can read, understand, and absorb what you want to communicate to them. In the pressure of a presentation it is very easy to accidentally shuffle or drop your cue cards, which is then a serious nuisance and distraction for any presenter. A timetable on one sheet is also useful to monitor your timing and pace. This is a sequential step-by-step process - a list of the main action points - for creating and preparing a successful and effective presentation - large or small.

The process includes preparing, creating, checking, rehearsing, refining and finalizing the presentation. Think about your audience, your aims, their expectations, the surroundings, the facilities available, and what type of presentation you are going to give lecture style, informative, participative, etc. What are your aims? To inform, inspire and entertain, maybe to demonstrate and prove, and maybe to persuade.

Thinking about these things will help you ensure that your presentation is going to achieve its purpose. Clearly identify your subject and your purpose to yourself, and then let the creative process take over for a while to gather all the possible ideas for subject matter and how you could present it. Think about interesting ways to convey and illustrate and bring your points to life, so that your presentation is full of interesting things think of these as 'spices' to stimulate as many senses as possible.

A presentation is not restricted to spoken and visual words - you can use physical samples and props, sound and video, body movement, audience participation, games and questions, statistics, amazing facts, quotes, and lots more ideas to support your points and keep the audience engaged. Both processes involve freely putting random ideas and connections on a piece of paper - the bigger the sheet the better - using different coloured pens will help too. Don't try to write the presentation in detail until you have decided on the content you need and created a rough structure from your random collected ideas and material.

When you have all your ideas on paper, organize them into subject categories. Three categories often work best.

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Is there a logical sequence that people will follow, and which makes you feel comfortable? A simple approach is to have three main sections. Each section has three sub-sections. Each of these can have three sub-sections, and so on. A 30 minute presentation is unlikely to need more than three sections, with three sub-sections each.

A three day training course presentation need have no more than four levels of three, giving 81 sub-sections in all. When you have a rough draft of your presentation you should practise it, as if you were actually in front of an audience, and check the timings. If your timings are not right - usually you will have too much material - then you can now adjust the amount of content, and avoid unnecessarily refining sections that need to be cut out.

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Or if you are short of content, you can expand the presentation material accordingly, or take longer to explain the content you already have. Essentially the structure of all good presentations is to: Then tell'em what you told'em. When you have structured your presentation, it will have an opening, a middle with headed sections of subject matter, and a close, with opportunity for questions, if relevant. This is still a somewhat flat 'single-dimensional' script. Practice it in its rough form , which is effectively a 'read-through' rather than a fully formed presentation with all aids and equipment.

Next you bring it to life as a fully formed presentation - give it space and life and physicality and character - by blending in your presentation methods, aids, props, and devices, as appropriate.