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Elements of a Powerful Presentation

Master the elements that work together to make you a powerful presenter

by Quentin Steele

Posture

  • Practice the Open Position
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, with your weight on the balls of your feet
  • Hold your head erect
  • Keep your shoulders back
  • Relax your hands at your sides
  • Postures to Avoid
  • The stern father position (arms folded, shoulders tense)
  • The fig leaf position (hands clasped in front
  • The military "at ease" position (feet spread, hands joined behind back)
  • The rocking horse position (constantly rocking, either forward and backward, or left and right)
  • The pacing professor (incessantly pacing back and forth)
  • The bathing beauty position (one knee bent; hand on hip)

Movement

  • Movement should be confident and purposeful
  • Avoid distracting body movement like rocking and pacing
  • Anchor yourself and speak from one vantage point; then move to a new anchor spot and speak from there

Gestures

  • Gesture from your shoulders, not just from your elbows: use your whole arm
  • First get comfortable with little gestures like "big", "little", "fast", "increasing"
  • Then try gestures for abstract ideas, like "worried", "angry", "love", "lonely"
  • Observe and imitate the gestures of speakers and comedians

Language

  • Use short crisp words instead of long, intellectual words whenever possible
  • Avoid profanity or excessive slang
  • Analyze your use of "uh-words" to determine where in a presentation you use them (e.g. during transitions, mid-sentence, etc.)
  • Practice breathing and pausing whenever you are tempted to use an "uh-word"

Facial Expression

  • Relax your face and smile
  • Avoid reacting with your face or eyes when you are nervous or have made a mistake

Eye Contact

  • Make eye contact with each person for 5-6 seconds, or for one sentence
  • Move your eyes to another person in another part of the room
  • Cover all sections of the room, maintaining eye contact with individuals, instead of with "the crowd"
  • Eye contact with a person in the back transfers to others sitting in the front of that person
  • "Read" the audience through eye contact. Are they interested, confused, or ready for a break?
  • Avoid looking at the ceiling when you are searching for your next thought; instead, pause, glance at your notes, and then resume eye contact when you begin talking again

Voice

  • Discover your "natural pitch" and practice it until it really is natural
  • Breathe deeply by fully exhaling, and then filling your lungs with air
  • Project your voice to reach the back row, and to compete with "white noise" in the room
  • Practice speaking with a microphone, so you get used to handling one when necessary
  • Vary your voice speed (fast and slow), volume (loud and soft), and pitch (high and low)
  • Vary your voice emotion to match your presentation content

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Copyright 2009 Quentin Steele Communications | quentin@qsteele.com | phone 916.784.3936 | fax 916.784.2201 | twitter quentinsteele