Quite often when you are listening to a speaker, teacher or seminar leader, you are thinking to yourself that this person is either a really good presenter or a boring one. For some reasons you are not totally sure of, you have put that person in your mind in one of these two classifications.
Of course, if you are ever to be asked to do a presentation in front of people either at work or at a social event like a wedding, you definitely want to do your best so that you are not in turn, labeled as a boring presenter. As a trained speaker, I can let you in on a few secrets and tricks that will help you make it over to the good presenters group if this is one of your goals for the New Year.
Eye Contact With Your Audience
Too often poor presenters are looking straight ahead, straight down to the floor, at their notes, or at the screen if using PowerPoint slides for most of their presentations. This loss of eye contact makes it very hard for audiences to have any real connection with a speaker. As a presenter, you should make an effort to have eye contact with all members of the audience. This includes those sitting on the extreme left and right ends, as well as those in the back of the room. Make brief eye contact with different parts of your audience by turning your head towards their direction throughout your talk.
Have Some Vocal Variety
Boring speakers talk with a monotone drone in public. This puts audiences to sleep quickly, especially in darkened rooms. Instead, try to speak with a variety of tones in your voice and with different rhythms in the phrasing of your words. Make important words stand out and have pauses after key points to let audiences reflect on them for brief moments. Rushing through your talks without pauses will lose your audience.
Use Hand Gestures
Communication in front of people is not just about using your voice. Use appropriate hand gestures to further enhance certain phrases in your presentation. A combination of vocal and visual elements makes for a more effective talk. For example, if making a reference to something that is rising or going up, use your finger and point up towards the ceiling as you verbalize your point. As a general rule of thumb, the larger your audience, the bigger your gestures should be since small gestures may not be visible to people sitting in the back of large audiences.
Reduce Your Use of Crutch Words
Words like “um” or “ah” during a presentation or even in normal conversation, are known in the speaker world as crutch words. They are also sometimes known as “filler words” since they have no meaning and people tend to use them to fill in dead space in between phrases. Try to reduce your use of such words by speaking a bit slower. Although the odd filler word is not a major issue, excessive use of them during presentations can be quite irritating to the ears of the audience.
Use the Stage Effectively
If you are speaking from a stage or front of a room where there is enough space and you are not stuck behind a podium microphone, make good use of the available room. Audiences react better to speakers who move around the stage rather than those who just stand in one spot during entire talks. However, pacing back and forth endlessly is not effective either. Instead, move with purpose towards a certain part of the audience to connect more with them during certain parts of your talk. You can also use movement to enhance parts of your presentation.
These skills are the physical techniques that will help you become a better presenter in front of any audience. It is highly recommended that you rehearse any presentations that you have to make in public well in advance. Also, rehearse your talks with these physical techniques as if you have an imaginary audience in front of you rather than just reciting them verbally at your desk.
The physical techniques mentioned here along with good writing forms the secrets of great presenters.
(Photo credit: Microphone on Stage via Shutterstock)