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Already a Decent Speaker? Here Are 5 Expert Tips
 

Every great leader must be adept at making presentations. Here's how to perfect yours.

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I recently outlined the eight basic tips every presenter should consider. Here are five advanced tips will make your presentation that much more memorable:

1. Start With Your Face

Make good eye contact by moving them across the room in a tic-tac-toe pattern and briefly locking eyes with as many people as you can. Linger long enough to complete a thought or statement. You want everyone in the room to feel you are giving the presentation just to him.

Your facial expressions should be deliberate and purposeful. If you look down or away, your audience will perceive it as a lack of confidence or that you are trying to remember a point you forgot. Remember to smile.

2. Use Your Body

Always utilize your body--not your slides--to keep your audience engaged. Use elaborate hand gestures to emphasize size, shape, direction, or to make a point. Your motions will feel extreme, but your audience is typically further away, so grand gestures will only keep people engaged and help them visualize your point.

Resist any temptation to stay stationary behind a podium. Use your entire presentation space, and make sure you move with purpose and command the stage. Never put your back to your audience.

Your slides should be simple and support what you say, but should not distract your audience from focusing exclusively on you.

3. Master Your Voice 

Your voice is your most powerful and important asset while you are on the stage. Use inflection wisely to keep your speech interesting, and project your voice to the very back of the room. Understand that how you say your speech is as important as what you say. A slight lift in your voice means you are asking a question; ending your sentence slightly lower indicates authority.

The biggest mistake most speakers make is a failure to slow down or use pauses. Silence and space between words allows for emphasis and lets your audience catch up with your ideas. Count to two in your head after making a point or after the laughter dies down. It will seem like an eternity, but it's much shorter than you think.

Avoid filler words or phrases: "like," "um," "so," "right." Become mindful of the things you say that are unnecessary. Make every word choice wisely.

4. Shake It Up

No matter how incredible your presentation is, your audience has a limited attention span. Find opportunities to make the presentation entertaining and interactive. You can field questions, use technology like TextTheMob to poll your audience, or break into smaller groups to do an activity. 

5. Practice--a Lot

The most important thing you can do, above all other suggestions, is to practice, practice, practice. Malcom Gladwell in his book Outliers says that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. The ability to deliver a good presentation is no different. I record myself as I practice and use the video to help me fine-tune my delivery.

IMAGE: Jetta Productions/Getty
Last updated: Sep 13, 2012

ERIC V. HOLTZCLAW is a serial entrepreneur who has founded multiple startup companies, including one of the first profitable Internet enterprises. His last company appeared on the Inc. 5000 three years in a row. Holtzclaw advises clients on the whys of business--why customers buy, why teams work, and the all-important "entrepreneurial" why. He is the author of Laddering, and his weekly radio show, The "Better You" Project, shines a spotlight on entrepreneurs' individual business journeys and successes. To learn more about Holtzclaw, visit ladderingworks.com or e-mail eholtzclaw@ladderingworks.com.
@eholtzclaw




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