After twenty years in the business, seven hundred flagship events and having rehearsed thousands of presenters, here are my top 10 tips that will help you become a better presenter. Don’t question why, just trust me and follow my advice - each one of my tips will work I promise!

Tip 1. Focus on the audience benefit
Your presentation is not about you, it’s about them. It’s always about them: the audience. What benefit will the audience get from listening to you? What do you want them to think, feel, or do as a result of listening to you? Cut out a piece of paper, write the audience benefit on it and sellotape it to your laptop screen

Tip 2. Delete all the text from your slides
Loads of bullet points on your slide are a complete waste of time; nobody reads them and because the brain is a self organising mechanism you send a signal to the audience that it’s time to start day dreaming. Use powerful images and pictures instead.  If you need notes, then use a neat set of post card sized cue cards

Tip 3. Keep it simple
Less really is more. The more you say, the more you have to explain; and so your presentation drifts and your audience with it. Never ever ask the audience to remember more than three things. In fact, use sets of threes throughout your presentation: I came, I saw, I conquered.


Tip 4. Rehearse
Always, always rehearse. Ask yourself: why do ballet dancers, athletes and actors rehearse? The biggest single difference a presenter can make to their performance is to stand up in front of the bathroom mirror and rehearse. If you are serious about success, then you need to get serious about rehearsing. And if you don’t prepare, then prepare to fail.

Tip 5. Make friends with the crew
The crew can play a huge part in your success, and, if you are a rude arrogant person (they’ll enjoy watching your failure). Get there early, make friends with them and learn their names. The biggest compliment that you can pay them is to ask for their help and advice. Find out which part of the stage is illuminated. Ask politely for a sound check. Ask to view your PowerPoint slides on the big screen – you can see where I’m going with this. Ask nicely and anything is possible.

Tip 6. Dress to impress
If in any doubt be smart. Smart hair, shoes and smart well pressed clothes. Don’t fall into the trap of getting up on stage looking casual (you’ll look scruffy). If it’s smart casual, always dress at the smart end of smart casual. If you are a woman always wear your hair up, avoid high heels and wear something with a waistband (to attach your radio microphone). If you are required to sit on a discussion panel, then always wear trousers.

Tip 7. Make friends with yourself
Don’t make the mistake of creating an alternate version of your real self – a posher version of the real you. Someone who uses big words and tries to disguise a regional accent. You are unique. You are special. Nobody is quite like you. So stick to the real you, be authentic – and the audience will believe in you!

Tip 8. Stand still and don’t weave
As adrenalin flows through your limbs, and your body gets ready for fight, or flight, and the lactic acid begins to build in your muscle tissue, so you will feel an overwhelming need to release that feeling of muscle tension by moving your legs – weaving. An advanced stage of weaving is prowling (like a caged carnivore) from one edge of the stage to the other. Don’t weave. Lock out your legs, shoulder width apart. Don’t bend your knees, or move anything below the waste. Make plenty of palms up hand gestures above the waist to show that you have no weapons and that you are engaging and empathising with the audience.

Tip 9. Tell a story
Forget the corporate gobble-de-gook and loads of text slides (nobody reads them) and use the same language that you might use whilst explaining your presentation to a friend in your local pub over a pint. Tell the audience a story. Engage in a conversation with the audience. And then (and only then) talk about targets and measurable goals.

Tip 10. Be enthusiastic
Nothing, absolutly nothing succeeds like enthusiasm - it's infectious. Once the audience spot that you have a passion for your subect they immediately begin to warm to you and will ignore any imperfections or omissions in your presentation. So get passionate, get excited and get enthusiastic!

(Update: June 2011) We now offer professional Presenter Coaching to organisations and individuals in the UK. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you to improve your presentation and public speaking skills, please visit the Presenter Coaching page of our website or contact us today!

You may also like these posts and pages:

- How to Improve Public Speaking Skills & Confidence - 10 Tips
- How to Cure Your Fear of Public Speaking - 10 Easy Steps
- How to Stand Still When Nervous or Anxious - Public Speaking Tips Video
- 13 Public Speaking Tips for Delivering a Great Business Presentation
- How to Improve Your Presentation Skills - 10 Tips for the Most Important Skills
- Top 10 Presenting and Public Speaking Tips - How Can We Help You?
- 10 Habits of the Bad Business Presenter
- The Presentation Training page of our website

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Sean Malone
Sean@virtualstudio.tv