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How to KISS Your Presentation Skills in 10 Easy Steps

        posted by , January 07, 2013

Giving effective presentations isn't rocket science. The difference between mediocre and great public speakers is a few KISS habits:

1. Drill a theme

It's difficult to communicate ideas.

The average person only remembers 2 or 3 points from a good presentation.

Decide what ideas you want to get across and repeat them often. State the ideas plainly in different ways. Illustrate the ideas with quotes, examples, statistics, analogies and stories.

You may have to communicate your theme 4-10 times before it cements itself in the minds of your audience.


2. Give your audience something useful

The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives.
~ Lilly Walters
Look at your presentation from your audience's perspective. Are you solving problems for them? Why should they care?

Take a realistic look at your audience's motivations — meet an urgent need and they'll listen.


3. Prepare but don't become a robot

90% of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.
~ Somers White
Preparation is key but avoid memorization and over-planning.

Preparation should focus on tuning your message. You need to know what you're going to say and roughly how you're going to say it.

If you over-plan or memorize your presentation you can easily be thrown off when something unexpected happens. You'll also end up sounding like a robot.


4. Stick to your strengths

It's important to understand your communication style and lead from your strengths.


5. Slow down

The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
~ Mark Twain
Great public speakers almost always have slow delivery. They leverage the power of pauses. Speak 30% slower than you would in regular speech (e.g. talking to a friend).


6. Entertain

People will pay more to be entertained than educated.
~ Johnny Carson
The goal of every great public speaker is not just to inform but also to entertain.

Your audience aren't information collecting robots. They want to be entertained. People tend to be more receptive to information when they enjoy your presentation.


7. Use the power of humor

You don't need to give a stand up comedy show but a little humor doesn't hurt.

Humor keeps your audience awake and puts them in a more receptive mode. Even if you don't get any laughs — a lighthearted approach is effective.


8. Keep it short

It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what other men say in whole books - what other men do not say in whole books.
~ Nietzsche
Short presentations of 5-20 minutes are almost always best. Even the greatest public speakers find it difficult to keep an audience's attention any longer.

Use direct, plain speech and eliminate unneeded words.


9. Create stunning visuals but don't focus on them

Five good slides are far more effective than 30 mediocre slides. Use large text and don't overwhelm your audience with information.

Use color for emphasis not decoration.

It's the hallmark of a mediocre public speaker to over-focus on visuals.

You can easily email visuals to people. The value added by a presentation is your presence.


10. Enthusiasm beats nervousness

Most public speakers are at least somewhat nervous. It doesn't show as much as you think it does.

The key to beating your fear is to let your enthusiasm for your topic drive you.

This is the 7th installment in the 9-part series of posts called How to Give Magnetic Presentations.


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