How to be a great public speaker

Whether we like it or not, it is inevitable that you will have to speak publicly at some point in your life, be it a presentation in school or a meeting at work. Whatever your industry, being an effective presenter is vital for anyone who is or aspires to be in a leadership position at some point in their career.

If the idea of speaking in public scares you don’t worry, you’re not alone. A recent study found that the top three fears people have are spiders, death and public speaking.

It should comfort you to know that with some practice, you can leave a lasting impression that you will want people to remember. Even world leaders and high profile CEO’s credit their presenting skills with practice. Davitt Corporate Partners has created this infographic that offers us some helpful tips and pointers that will help you give a brilliant speech or presentation.


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11 Tips to avoid being charged with ‘death by PowerPoint’

Do not do this to your audience!

Do not do this to your audience!

by Karen Adamedes

Yep…’Death by PowerPoint’ is a thing.

It’s that thing that happens when you slowly lose all interest in the presentation you are watching, the content and worst of all the presenter.

It often occurs when you are attending a presentation where there are slides that you can’t read, are too busy, are being read from word for word or there are just way too many of them (slides, that is!). This is often accompanied by the speaker saying, “It might be a bit hard for you to read this slide but…”

If you’re in the audience there is probably little you can do other than look for the closest exit, take a nap or suddenly have some emergency on your smart phone that you need to turn your attention to.

But if you are a presenter there is plenty you can do to make the experience worthwhile not only for your audience but for your career and credibility.

Presentations are a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate what you know, what you have achieved and what you are capable of contributing. You want to make sure that all aspects of it are as high quality as they can be – and this includes the supporting media you use.

The use of slides that do not help you tell or sell your message to your audience are a waste of time, for you and for them. Best case your audience doesn’t listen and are bored. And you have lost an opportunity to achieve whatever your objective was for the presentation.

Worst case they think less of you as a result of the presentation, you lose credibility and don’t achieve your business objective.

And you don’t want to be responsible for the, figuratively speaking, murder of your audience’s interest in what you have to say!

If you are going to use slides make sure that they help you tell your story, engage the interest of your audience and enhance your credibility.

Here’s 11 tips to avoid ‘death by PowerPoint’ and help you make a great presentation:

1. Dark backgrounds – they are easier to read on a screen.

2. 5 or less bullet points – punchy, informative and you won’t fall into the trap of reading them word for word.

3. No more that 14 words per slide – great rule to make sure you don’t put too much content on a slide and that your audience can read it.

4. Use graphics – ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ as they say. And as your audience figure out the message of the picture they are getting actively involved in your presentation.

5. High quality graphics – are required to expand to the size you need and to look good from the back of the room.

6. Use a variety of visual aids – show examples of what you are talking about, don’t just rely on the slides.

7. Vary your media every 6 to 8 minutes – which is about the ‘average’ person’s attention span. This will help maintain audience interest.

8. Charts and tables should be easy to read – if they are not and people can’t see what you are talking about – you lose their interest.

9. Use handouts – to provide details of lots of information that your audience needs to know. It will be easier to read and help keep your slides ‘clean’.

10. Talk to the slide don’t just read it – you need to be providing information, commentary or analysis to what is on the slides. Otherwise you could just email the presentation and save all the bother of actually presenting.

11. Rehearse – know what slide is coming up and what you are going to say when it does. It will be a lot less stressful for you and a lot more enjoyable for the audience.

You need to be essential to your presentation…make sure your slides support you!

There is a lot of competition for the attention of your audience, even when they have come to see you – text messages, emails, Facebook the list of things people can be doing whilst they sit in your audience is endless.

Good quality, interesting slides can help make your audience want to listen to you and hear what you have to say…..and that will give your presentation life!

Career Tip to Go:  Keep your audience alive and interested with good quality slides that support your presentation!


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My interview on Live TV. The options – panic or prepare?

coffee sky interview

Coffee and rehearsal notes were all part of my preparation. And a side order of panic.

By Karen Adamedes

My regular readers would be familiar with my frequent urging to rehearse before presentations, negotiations and any activity that is going to put you in the spotlight.

These are opportunities to build your credibility, demonstrate what you know and how you think. But the reality is that we are all so busy that we (me included) sometimes take shortcuts and work on the, “it’ll be alright on the night” philosophy.

But last week I had an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. Walk the talk. Practise what I preach. (You get the drill!)

I had the fabulous opportunity (aka nerve wracking experience) of being asked to be a guest on the national Australian Sky Business channel for an interview on change management. (When I am not blogging, writing, speaking about careers this is the topic I work in as a management consultant).

Fabulous opportunity for credibility. Unique chance to sharpen my skills. Thrilled to be asked. Of course, I agreed. That was a couple of weeks ago.

As the day of the interview approached it also became a chance to wonder what on earth I had got myself into and how I was going to calm the nerves to be interviewed (and make sense!)? Live. On National TV. (No pressure there at all!)

I reviewed my options.

1. I couldn’t pull out. Loss of credibility. Loss of opportunity. Not a good look. Not an option.

2. I could prepare and rehearse (exactly like I go on from my soapbox about!) and do the very best I could. It didn’t need to be an Emmy winning performance. Only option.

Fortunately the producer who had booked me in was a real professional and sent me the potential questions in advance.

So I was able to start by working in a way I am comfortable –  writing. I wrote the answers to the questions in bullet points. I then sent them off to a trusted adviser, got their feedback and made a few minor tweaks.

Next, I rehearsed the answers out loud so I could see what sounded okay, if any of the wording was clunky and if I was actually answering the question and, you guessed it, there were a few more tweaks required.

After putting aside for a day I went back and reviewed my content again, and got each answer down to three words that would prompt me to remember what I wanted to say (this was a technique I had used at university for exam preparation).

I wrote up my notes, with all my word prompts, in big type – in hopeful anticipation that I could have them in front of me at the interview and set about remembering them verbatim as much as I could.

In the meantime I recorded and watched an episode of the show so that I could see what the set up was and who the interviewer was and their style. I decided what I was going to wear, got a manicure (I talk with my hands so that was essential) and arranged to get my hair done on the day. Too late to loose some more weight but I was as ready as I could be!

And then I decided to panic. “What”, I asked myself, “makes you think that you can do this?”

So I gave myself a talking to / pep talk.

I had done a TV interview 4 years ago when my book, “Hot Tips for Career Chicks” first came out. And survived. But maybe that was a one off wonder? And it was 4 years ago!

I reminded myself that I have made hundreds of presentations to large audiences, small audiences, senior audiences, tough audiences, over my career. I’d learnt to be myself and focus on my audience and what they wanted to hear about and my content. That resonated a little more strongly.

If I could talk about what I knew for all those presentations, then I could talk about what I know. It’s just that it would be on TV. Live. Nationally. (Panic stations anyone?)

And then I remembered what someone said to me before my first TV foray. “You know what you’re talking about. You care about it. You will be fine.”

And I did. And I was.

My preparation allowed me to be adapt to the situation – it was a different interviewer (the episode I watched the regular presenter had been on holidays!) but the style and the tone of the interview was as I had prepared. And I needed every second of that preparation time.

Two solid days of preparation came down to a 12 minute interview with another guest so that was about 5 minutes of talking for me.

No one from the Emmy’s has called and I know the things I can improve for next time. But I have been invited back for next year. So it must have been at least okay. I didn’t embarrass myself and I didn’t say anything dumb. (Yeh!) And next time will be easier (surely!)

And what a reminder about the importance of preparation and rehearsals…and a chance to stretch myself!

You might not put yourself through the same experience but any chance to present or be under the spotlight can be nerve wracking.

But if you know what you’re talking about. You care about it. And you prepare – you will be fine.

Go forth, Prepare, Rehearse and Present. ‘Cause it does feel really good when you’re done! 🙂

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Career Tip To Go: Business Presentations

Make and take the opportunity to present whenever you can

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