Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Delivering Powerful Presentations

Delivering Powerful Presentations - communicating with Style and Passion

Preparing with Pizzazz

In the last issue of Leading Ways you completed the planning like the professional you are, and now it is time to start the preparation.

How long do I have? Do I have logical stopping points if my time is cut back?

How will I handle Q&A? Do I want written questions? Will I take questions throughout or just before the end?

Which presentation methods should I use? Powerpoint, flip charts, notes, or some combination? Am I appealing to most learning styles? Tip: Spellcheck everything TWICE! If you are using Powerpoint restrict the words to key points and have only one PowerPoint for every 3 minutes.

Do I want audience participation? If so, know that there are seven things you can ask your audience to do:

1. Ask them to initiate a way forward.

2. Ask them who they are - tell their stories.

3. Ask them to report back to the group.

4. Ask them to teach others in a breakout.

5. Ask them to play games - demonstrate a learning method.

6. Ask them to brainstorm - new solutions to problems.

7. Ask them to design responses - passive to active involvement.

Do I want materials handed out after the presentation? I am in charge of the room. How do I want the chairs, stage, sound, and podium?

You have written out your presentation and checked that there is a logical flow; a few key, rather than too many general points; a powerful opening; an easy transition into the body of the presentation; a structure to the Q&A session; and a strong ending Call to Action. All that remains? No, not delivery, but rehearsals.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

You cannot rehearse too much. Solo, in front of a mirror, presentation to a buddy and tape recorded and timed to perfection. Most of us go too fast.

What happens when you slow it down? Do you need to take material out so there is not an information dump?

Most of us use "fillers." "Ah," "Um" and "Shall we say" are some of the common ones. I went to a presentation recently and the speaker used "Shall we say" 47 times. Did I hear the message - obviously not.

Get your buddy to tell you what your fillers are, as once you become aware of them you will tend not to use them.

News: Denis Orme graduates from the 'Harvard of public speaking' the GoveSiebold Group USA.

He is now available for keynote speech presentations or to work with your in-house team on business presentation skills training. or

You are the message

Remember you are the message, not your PowerPoint, not the podium, not your notes. How do you look:

* Dress - professional and appropriate to the audience.

* Well-groomed.

* Confident - if you have completed the planning and preparation, confidence will follow.

Your gestures should be natural, spontaneous and lively. Relax and show relevant emotions through your facial expressions. Humour? Humour deserves a special mention in that not all of us are naturally funny.

Even if we are, too often I have seen jokes used as an ice-breaker and the jokes have no relevance to the presentation. I will say it again; do not try to be someone else. If you are not a joke-teller then just let your natural sense of humour come out during you presentation, particularly when you are telling your signature story.

* Smile. Your smile will melt your audience. Use it.

* What is your self-talk? Remember, you become what you think. Your self-talk should be - "I am an effective and proven business presenter." Note the present tense.

* Can I lose the lectern? This was a hard decision for me to make and my transition was to leave my notes on the lectern, but carry some 3x5 cards to jog my memory in case I needed them. I cannot tell you how much this did for building a rapport with the audience. I now prefer wherever possible to leave the stage and "be with" rather than "lecturing at" the audience. After all it is about their needs, not mine.

* Speech. An area to perhaps focus for a moment.

Just listen to commercials on the radio. The deeper a voice, the greater its believability. Pay attention to voices and notice:

Norm Voice Range occurs shortly after you talk (assuming the voice is not too high or too low). This is the level others recognise you as being you.

Pitch is the level (high/low) of your voice. A pleasing one is mixed, high at times, low at others.

Pace is the number of words per minute. We use 145 words per minute on average.

Pauses are the breaks we build into our speeches, so the listener can think. But you must gain confidence in order to use pauses.

Projection is they way we emphasise clarity and tone. If you lack confidence, the projection will give it away. You will sound uncertain and that will be recognised instantly.

As soon as the voice rises above Norm Voice Range, the believability of the message diminishes. The minute it drops below the Norm, the believability of the message increases.

Get feedback on how your voice projects and practice makes it distinctive with clarity, pitch and pace.

Ladies and Gentlemen, its show time.

You have carefully done your planning and preparation, so it is time to deliver.

Meet, greet and incorporate. Arrive early and greet people with a smile and a handshake. Concentrate on remembering faces, names and topics of discussion so that during your presentation you can weave in the conversations.

Often I will sit through prior sessions and then piggyback off that prior session.

Recently I sat in on a session "Teaching personal and social responsibility through sport" delivered at a principals conference and it focussed on primary school students. During my afternoon presentation on Leadership in Learning I was able to use this in the context of self-directed teacher principal teams in schools. Can you imagine how powerful that was?

Check out all the logistics. Yes, right down to checking that the PowerPoint and microphone work. Lesson learnt: sometimes they don't. Make sure you have water.

Now it is your quiet time. Use the time to get yourself centred on your audience and take a final run through of your material. Do not drink caffeine. [Half way through your presentation your mouth will be so dry and you will not get the moistness back at that point, no matter how much water you drink.]

Warm up the audience. Use the pause following your introduction and if you tell jokes then tell one (perhaps one against yourself) relevant to your presentation. If you are not a joke-teller then I have found the use of an open-ended question will grip their attention.

Pace. Most of us talk too fast, slow it down. I usually have a "spotter" in the audience. I look for a "T' [formed by holding hands up in a "T" shape], and know to slow down.

The other benefit of a spotter is that they can provide you with objectivity on where you need to improve. Most of us know what we have done right but a spotter can look at audience reaction to see what is working and what is not.

My 3-second rule. You have the audience to your left of the stage, the centre and then the right. Even where there are bright lights and you cannot see the audience imagine you can. Stop and look at them for 3 seconds, move to the next spot in the audience stop for 3 seconds and then move on. Continue this throughout your entire presentation and use that smile. They want you to succeed.

Audience Interaction -- to really bond with your audience wherever it is practical try to get participation.

News: Denis Orme graduates from the 'Harvard of public speaking' the GoveSiebold Group USA.

He is now available for keynote speech presentations or to work with your in-house team on business presentation skills training. or

Handling Q&A -- handle questions with knowledge, fairness, honesty and clarity.

Repeat the question. Even though you heard the question others in the room might not have, so repeat it for their benefit. Repeating it will also give you the chance to clarify the meaning, and extra time to phrase your answer.

Practice answers before the presentation. Think of the questions that most likely would be asked. Then rehearse or outline your answers. This will reduce your nerves and give you credibility and stature as the expert?

Have questions ready. Often when we reach the question and answer portion near the end of a presentation, no one asks a question. At this point, you can say, "One question I am often asked is ..." This usually breaks the ice and is usually followed by other questions.

Control the questions. It depends upon your ease and whether or not you want to take questions during or at the end of your presentation. If I am giving a long workshop, I tell the participants at the beginning that I welcome questions throughout.

However, make sure that you stay in control. There may be someone in the audience who keeps interrupting. At this point, I usually say something like, "Why don't we come back to that later." Or "Why don't you and I talk about it afterwards?"

Admit when you don't know the answer.

You could ask the audience if knows the answer, or ask the person for their business card and say you'll find out the answer and get back to them.

Remember there are no dumb questions. Always praise them for an excellent question in order to encourage others.

Your powerful wrap-up. The last three minutes are critical to bring back your primary focus, as the audience may have become a little distracted during the Q&A.

Recap on the main ideas from your presentation, and conclude with your Call to Action.

I ask the audience to email me with what action they took and what the result was. Usually 10-15% do, and so this is another gauge of the effectiveness of the presentation.

In summary. Tell them what you are going to tell them, build anticipation, tell them, and then leave them with a powerful Call to Action following your presentation.


Public speaking is not inherently stressful, but because of a lack of planning or preparation it can be.

You will not succeed unless you understand you audience and why they came.

Your audience wants you to succeed.

Do not try to emulate someone else, people came to hear you.

Most of us talk too fast and overload people with information.

And finally, great presenters know their topic inside out and deliver from the heart, with passion. They exude energy and enthusiasm, whether on or off the platform.

Go forth -- prepare and deliver "knock-your-socks-off" presentations.

News: Denis is now available for keynote speech presentations or to work with your in-house team on business presentation skills training. or

Encourage your friends to sign up for this free periodic newsletter. Send, or have them send an email to

Here is to your continued Success!

Kind regards



© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.