- Stand on both feet. No leaning, slouching, slumping or sitting. Audiences are twice as likely to be influenced by speakers who stand as compared to those who stay seated.
- Gesture freely, but with natural arm and hand movements. Don’t flap about like a wounded bird. When not gesturing, keep your arms at your sides.
- Use pauses to let what you’ve said sink in or for dramatic effect.
- Make eye contact with as many people in the audience as possible. If you spot particularly attentive listeners, come back to them when you need a little reassurance.
- Move with purpose. Avoid swaying, rocking or pacing.
- Don’t shy away from humor. We’ve all seen good-natured jokes used to positive effect in seemingly inappropriate situations (e.g., funerals or memorials).
- Avoid inflammatory words or phrases.
- Keep going, even If you stumble over a word or lose your train of thought. But if you trip over a cord or spill your water, mention it. Audiences can forgive the former; the latter requires an explanation.
- Energize your delivery by using inflection to vary your speaking patterns. A monotone voice is sure-fire snooze inducer.
- Know your content well enough that you can speak extemporaneously. Reading note cards or slides implies a lack of preparation.
Before you act . . .
Find out what type of audience you’ll be presenting to and adapt your presentation to their needs. Check out the room you’ll be presenting in to get comfortable with the space. Iron out tech challenges with an audio/visual run-through. Rehearse!