At the 2014 Oscars, John Travolta famously introduced Frozen star, Idina Menzel as ‘Adele Dazeem’ in front of 43 million viewers. Even though the actress laughed it off, the clip went viral in a matter of minutes. When even celebrities that have been around for decades make such dramatic mistakes, it’s not surprising that public speaking is one of the most common fears of ordinary people. Despite this apprehension, public speaking is a task most professionals will face in their career at some point. 

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Below, I will share a few simple tips on how you can prepare for and deliver excellent presentations.

By Leah Elston-Thompson

Plan your presentation with your audience in mind – this means making sure you use language the audience understands and discuss topics the listeners are interested in. Don’t forget to grab the audience’s attention early on; you can do this by opening with an entertaining anecdote, fact or interactive activity.

Stand up straight
This may sound too simple to be true, but there are several benefits to standing upright during your speech. Good posture will make you appear more confident – and if you look more confident the audience will believe you are.

You might be surprised to know that if standing upright with your shoulders back feels a little unnatural, it’s actually a good sign. It means you will probably compensate for it through more natural hand gestures to complement what you’re saying.

The third benefit of good posture is that it is easier to project your voice with your lungs full of air – it is always important to project, even if you have a microphone.

Eye contact
Eye contact is the easiest way to connect with your audience but to do this well involves striking a balance between scanning the room and focusing on one person for too long. In a bigger audience, divide the room into sections and focus on one person in the middle of each section before moving on to another. That way, entire sections of the audience will feel like you are looking at them. Each time you make eye contact with a new person make sure you smile.

It is natural to speak faster than normally when delivering a presentation, especially if you are feeling a little nervous. If you have a tendency to speed up, it may help to have less information on each slide. That way you have to pause between each point you want to make and this allows you to control your breathing and rhythm.

You can also break speech down with pauses; this will make your presentation easier to follow. Pauses are a good way of really emphasising a point.

Though you don’t want to learn the words by heart, you never want to be surprised by what’s coming next. A good amount of practice means you’ll feel more confident when delivering the presentation and you will never put yourself in an awkward situation, like John Travolta at the Oscars.

If you have to give a presentation in public, the first rule is don’t panic! If you need help planning, creating or delivering a speech or presentation, get in touch with Stone Junction on 01785 225416 or e-mail us at 

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