How to Improve Your Presentation Before You Say a Single Word

You have spent many hours, if not days, preparing to give a big presentation at a conference or event. You have researched your topic, you are confident that your material will be riveting to your audience. And you have put the hard yards in, having practiced with great diligence. Are you feeling ready? Are you good to go? Have you forgotten anything? Maybe.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce…”. What happens next? Is there any chance you don’t know exactly how you will be introduced?

In my experience, far too many speakers at conferences and seminars fail to pay attention to this important part of their presentation. Does it matter? Does it affect the way an audience may perceive you and what you have to say? You bet it does, as Lucky Luc would say “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. So why leave the first impressions people have of you to chance?

You shouldn’t! Think of your introduction as a part of your presentation, part of the messages your audience will receive from you. More importantly, think of your introduction as an opportunity:

To set expectations (setting the stage)
To bolster your credibility as a speaker
To pique your audience’s interest in the theme you will address
To keep control of your message
Don’t get me wrong, there are many experienced conference comperes or MCs who will do a good job of pulling out a few nuggets from your bio and tying these into the topic you will speak on. But many don’t. And, in any case, you shouldn’t expect anyone who introduces you to know as much about you and your presentation as you do. And you certainly don’t want your introduction to be anything less than engaging – or worse still, boring. So what should you do?
Simple, always write your own introductions. Decide what you want to have said about you and your topic before you say a single word. Use your introduction to grab your audience’s attention and establish why they will want to listen to you. Be sure to keep your introduction short and focused on what your audience will really care about – i.e. how what you will say may help or benefit your audience. In other words, WIIFM (what’s in it for me).

The bottom line is – when it comes to your introduction, don’t gamble. All introductions are not equal. By writing your own introduction you will be doing the introducer and your audience a favour. Most people who have to introduce others will be delighted that you have made his/her job easier. Most comperes will be thrilled to have a script that reads well and makes them look good. And guess what? You’re off to a great start – first time, every time. Plan on it!


Further free tips on public speaking are available on:

About the Author

Public Speaking Master, Eamonn O’Brien is the founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club and an internationally recognised speaker on communication skills. Based in Dublin, The Reluctant Speakers Club can help you to make the podium your friend in just a short time. To learn more, visit:


Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so you shall become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.
— James Allen

Tell Powerful Stories with Pictures: A National Geographic Photographer Shares Tips for Speakers (WEBINAR)

with Dick Durrance

A speech or presentation is in part a visual experience for the audience. Some speakers avoid using A/V equipment, but many others find that adding a visual component helps their audience focus and learn.
It’s common advice today, for those who use media like PowerPoint or slides, that visuals should be *visual*—use more images on screen and fewer words.
But how do you select—or create—the best images? If you want to use photos, come learn from Dick Durrance, one of the world’s top photographers who now uses that background to add impact as a professional speaker.
Dick will show us what to look for in a picture—and how to take our own—to add power and depth to our message.

To illustrate his points, Dick will use more than 75 pictures created for National Geographic assignments, global advertising campaigns, the world’s great golf courses, and the national parks. He’ll show you how to better create or select photographs for your use.

The old adage is true: the right image instantly communicates much more than 1000 words. As a wordsmith, you carefully choose the right word to express your thoughts. In the same way, you want the images you use in your presentations, blogs, websites, ezines and other materials to perfectly complement your words.
The photos need to be *great* to accompany your stories and points—not just snapshots. You want images that enthrall your audience. Pictures you take yourself can be exactly what helps express your unique point or story, if they are done well.
However, you’re not a professional photographer. You need simple techniques to take excellent photos, without lugging around a heavy, expensive camera, full-sized tripod, and other burdensome equipment. You need to know how to take a great picture that doesn’t involve endless messing with F-stops and other technical issues. Fortunately, today’s digital cameras now take care of what used to be technical challenges.
Dick Durrance, professional speaker and former National Geographic staff photographer, will show you how to harness the power of the graphic elements in your pictures—light, line, shape, color, and texture—to better tell the story you are trying to share with your audiences without having to rely on sophisticated technical skills.

Hall of Fame speaker Ian Percy once wrote, “When your life flashes before your eyes, it’s pictures not words that flash by. Our life stories are always told in pictures.”
In this webinar, you will learn how to:
• Be clear in your mind on the story you’re trying to tell in the picture. You will see how to frame, crop, and use the basic graphic elements in the picture to lead the viewer’s eye to the most important point you are trying to make with the picture.
• Select the light (sunrise, bright midday, foggy, dusk, shadows) you need to set the tone for your picture
• Use color to evoke emotion and texture to add depth to a picture
• Shift the angle or perspective to create a much more dramatic and intriguing image
• Compose pictures that contain all of the elements that are essential to your story
• Be aware of what shapes draw one’s eye into the image

More information =>

Creative Presentation Agenda Examples

Is your audience getting lost during your big presentation? The issue might be in the clarity of your presentation agenda. Learn 5 creative ways to provide a clear and memorable agenda to your presentation. =>

Great wits say much in few words …

As it is the characteristic of great wits to say much in few words, so small wits seem to have the gift of speaking much and saying nothing.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Handling the Audience in Public Speaking

Audiences Are Your Friend

For the rank amateur to the ignorant professional, audiences create the same effect no matter how small they are to a speaker. Fear and anxiety.

From a single person to a crowd as big as the fans in the Super Bowl, speaking in front of a serious listening audience is the true test and baptism of fire.

Despite this, audiences are predictable. Audiences listen to you because they want to learn something from the speaker.

Following this logic, the speaker would do well to follow the strategy of making it informative as well as interesting to listeners to see your speech through till the end.

Here are some tips on how you can have the audience listen in rapt attention.

How To Use the Power of the Pause in Public Speaking

Learning how to use the power of the pause in public speaking can be one of the most effective skills an orator can acquire.

Pausing when giving a speaking presentation? Yes.

Pauses can be so powerful that some even give this advice–when you’ve no idea what to do, just pause and smile. Even if you’ve fully prepared and rehearsed, there are times when your mind will go blank up there. It happens to even the most seasoned of speakers. If and when it happens, just pause. Pausing will give a person authority, whereas stammering or apologizing will do quite the opposite.

It’s said that the North Vietnamese used the power of the pause as a tactic in the Paris peace negotiations. During the talks, they just kept nodding and smiling. They did this until the Americans gave in.

Can pausing really be that powerful?

Our instincts are all wrong. When we get nervous, the first thing we tend to do is speed up. The faster I talk, many assume, the more I’ll appear to have it together. But the opposite is true. Rushing through your presentation is a dead giveaway that you’re edgy, and often gives the impression that you’d rather not be there speaking in the first place. It’s a universal sign of nervousness and lack of confidence to talk in an exaggeratedly hurried manner. It’s the same with those “ah” and “uhm” filler words that many start throwing in. This makes an audience uncomfortable, and can make them feel like they are the cause of your suffering up there behind the microphone. This is a presentation that will not be remembered except for the negative feelings it created.

But this is where the pause can be useful. Instead of rushing to the next point or using that filler word, just pause. The audience will wonder what you’re going to do next. The trick, though, is to stay with your listeners.

But, you may ask, doesn’t pausing make the speaker look like he or she has forgotten what to say or has lost his or her train of thought? The answer: depends on how one goes about it. If you stare at the ceiling or at the floor, then yes, you’ll appear to be trying to gather your thoughts. But if you stay engaged, and that means looking at your audience and staying focused on the message, then pausing will add a dynamic and commanding element to your presentation.

Pausing creates moments of tension, anticipation, or excitement, depending on how they’re utilized. Pausing while presenting gives the impression that the speaker is confident, even if the speaker doesn’t feel that way. If you’re a person who starts talking faster when nervous, pausing can help you relax and catch your breath. Try it–just pause and breathe deeper.

I’ve personally used the Power of the Pause many times and each time I do I’m always a little amazed at how well it works. I like to use pauses right after a question. For example, I’ll ask the crowd, “Do you remember the numbers from last year?” Then I’ll pause and slowly look around. The audience stays with me, waiting for the answer. At those moments, I sometimes have more authority as a speaker then when I’m actually speaking! Most nervous speakers, especially those with less experience, will immediately answer their own question and ruin a nice moment like that. Once I personally discovered how powerful pausing can be, I’ve never gone away from it.

Remember that if anything, pausing allows a speaker to stop and think about what he or she is going to say next. No matter how much you practice and rehearse, there are times when the combination of adrenaline and nervousness makes you forget where you are. Nobody likes it when this happens, but again, it happens to everyone. If and when it does, pausing not only gives you a chance to think about your next thought (and glance at your notes if needed), but it also makes you appear to be in far more control than you may feel at the moment.

Pausing really works–practice it and utilize it.

Kelly Libatique is a professional speaker, technical trainer, and author. He has a Master’s in Education and a Bachelor’s in Psychology. He resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and Anne and two sons.

Visit or Contact Kelly at:

How to conquer the fear of public speaking & other coronary threats

This book is an antacid for knots, butterflies and pains which often accompany public speaking efforts. Text includes personal prescriptions for confidence, success and happiness from Zig Ziglar, Erma Bombeck, Hugh Downs, Cary Grant, Ann Landers, Rod McKuen, Norman Vincent Peale and others. It tells how to eliminate anguish, frustration and embarrassment when speaking in public. This is a classic by an award-winning speaker and it gives step-by-step instructions for healthier self-esteem through better oral communications.
His favorite quote for those who are afraid to accept the challenges of public speaking came from former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Imagination … inspiration

“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.”

Jamie Paolinetti quotes (American Schroeder Iron Pro Cycling)

Design help for your PowerPoint slides

Are you looking for a pick-me-up fr your latest PowerPoint presentation? Looking for some design ideas that you haven’t seen before on everyone else’s presentations?

I find that looking at other original designs sparks my own creativity. And oftentimes that has a flow on effect on my presentation. If there is a different way of looking at the slide, then there may be a different way of looking at the point I’m making. Or maybe it just fires up the neurones in my brain and they produce new thoughts. I’m not sure how it works, but it does.

So go check out The PowerPoint Templates (ppt). They have downloadable templates. And yes this is an affilaite link so I will make a few cents if you buy a template. But you can choose the low cost ones, or even scrounge through the sidebar and find the free templates. Or maybe, like me, you will just get some creative inspiration from looking at the products. These are graphics designers working here, so the creativity should be evident!

And while you are prowling round the site, look into the articles and tutorials. There is some useful information there.

Have fun!