Good presentation is the key to success. You may have all the facts and figures but if your presentation is sloppy, you can say goodbye to whatever it is you’re pitching after. A new book called Presenting Secrets by Martin Manser, who teaches at the London College of Communication, tells you how to make the right impression when you’re giving that presentation of a lifetime. Edited excerpts from the chapter on body language:
Body language is a very important part of how we communicate. Your gestures and movements will say just as much as your words when you give your presentation.
Presenting Secrets by Martin Manser, Harper-Collins-India, 128 pages, Rs150.
Control your voice
Your voice is the single-most important tool you have in giving a presentation. Learn how to use it well to make your presentation effective. You can learn how to exercise control over your voice as you are speaking. Practise voice control: Learn how to breathe in deeply—not just raising your shoulders. When you breathe in deeply, you should feel your lower ribs move upwards and air build up in your lungs. Allow the greater force of air to go through the larynx (voice box) at the back of your throat and produce a louder voice.
• Before a presentation, warm up your voice. Hum; talk to yourself—but make sure no one is around to hear you!
• Vary the volume with which you speak: Sometimes loudly and sometimes softly.
• Vary the speed at which you speak: Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
• Speak part of your presentation out loud. How much expression are you putting into your voice? A lot of filler words such as “just” and “umm” creeping in?
• Add a range of tones to your voice. Don’t speak in a monotone all the time, sound enthusiastic—your audience will pick this up.
• Open your mouth wide and move your lips articulating the words clearly and fully; don’t slur syllables.
• Make sure your voice doesn’t drop at the end of sentences. This sounds dull.
• Emphasize the positive words you want to stress. You could even repeat them to highlight them further.
• Watch out for meaningless fillers that all of us use, “Ok”, “You know”, “Umm”, “Just”. Ask a friend to identity those that are your particular weakness. Once during a presentation I identified how many times the speaker said “Um” : 114 times in 45 minutes. It is better to be silent than keep using fillers in this way.
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