Global searching is not enabled.
Skip to main content

Part 2: Deliver Your Presentation

Completion requirements

Appropriate Dress for the Occasion
  • Clothes which fit well and are not too tight. Check in a mirror that they hang well.
  • As crease-resistant as possible.
  • Subtle rather than flashy accessories.
  • Ensure that accessories will not distract the attention from your presentation.

Making a Striking Impression in Delivery

The actual delivery of the presentation is not something that one can teach in a book. For most presenters the chief problem is to overcome the speaker’s rigidity: you must often have seen how someone who talks in an animated, interesting and persuasive manner suddenly becomes wooden and monotonous when he/ she steps onto the platform. It could be helpful if you think of addressing the audience as a single person. The aim would be to use the same movements of the face, head and body, the same range of vocal pitch and volume, the same gestures, the same pace and pauses as if you are talking to a couple of friends over a drink. You have the characteristic to do this – just remove the barriers that is keeping you from doing it naturally.

Dealing With Nervousness

Everybody gets the “jitters” and some people verge on terminal panic at the prospect of speaking in public. The following ideas will help you.

Start Off Well is Most Important

People remember the beginning and the end of a presentation. If you do not open and close with impact, your presentation will slide into the big black hole somewhere in the universe where low-grade presentations go to die. Once your audience has decided it is not really worth listening, it is hard to get them back. Prevention is very much easier than cure.

  • Stand a few steps away from the person introducing you, so that you are ready to step up to the podium.
  • Hold a silence of a few seconds before starting – it focuses people’s attention on you and gives you time to remember your opening lines.
  • Make eye contact straight away and include everyone in the room.
  • Control your opening words so that they project at a lower pitch than normal, as compensation for the likelihood that anxiety will raise the pitch of your voice.

Speaking Clearly

Ways of speaking clearly and interestingly include the following aspects:

Manage Your Body Language

Keep in eye contact with people in the room. This may necessitate looking far to your left or to your right. Eye contact connects you with everyone. You will have noticed in the past how awkward it is to talk to someone wearing very dark or reflective sunglasses. It breaks the communication flow. Allow 1 to 3 seconds of eye contact per person, that is, enough to connect with him or her but not enough to make them feel “picked on".

Don’t stand stiffly but allow your hands and body to move in a natural way. Natural hand gestures as you would use in ordinary conversation are equally normal in this situation.

Also move a few steps forward and backwards, and sideways. Be aware of any cables or other obstacles before doing so! The audience will follow your movements, which will help them to stay focused on what you are saying.

Gesture need to be natural, appropriate and varied. It is normal behaviour to walk and easily swinging your arms at your sides, so do it, since this will relax you. For some reason we become self-conscious of our hands when speaking to an audience, but hand gestures are helpful to involve the audience and to appear relaxed. Variety is however the key, since repetitive motions become noticeable.

Facial expressions should be genuine and appropriate. Variety and smiles help you and your audience to connect. Smiling also puts more life into your face and eyes. Be aware of distracting mannerisms.

Speak with emphasis and energy. Your voice should have four main qualities. (1) Being loud enough to be heard by the entire audience, (2) Clear and easy to hear (3) Expressive – support the message that you are transferring (4) Enjoyable – good to listen to. Speak a little louder than normal. Demand attention by varying volume, tone (pitch) of voice and speaking rate.

Use pauses to deliberately draw attention to key concepts. Pause to give yourself and the audience time to think about what was said.


  • Putting your hands in your pockets
  • The handcuffs behind your back
  • Crossing your arms
  • The fig leaf position
  • Language that can offend your audience
  • Wringing your hands and cracking your fingers and twisting your rings and clicking your ball pen and jingling your keys

Answering Questions

Announce at the beginning when you would like the audience to ask questions – at the end or during the presentation.

The more the audience has understood, the more questions they will ask. A sure sign that people are still grappling with your ideas is that they are not yet ready to ask questions. This is because they have not yet seen enough of the picture to recognise where the gaps in their understanding lie. Questions, therefore, are a good thing.

When you listen to questions, look at the person asking it, in order to grasp more of the issues than just the words (words constitute only 7% of a message). Give the person enough time to finish his question.

You might find yourself tempted to change your body language when answering questions. Observe whether you have changed from exuding confidence to presenting uncertainty and anxiety and choose which you would prefer to project. Don’t rub your hands together nervously but keep relaxed.

Remember that, in your preparation, you tried to anticipate what questions might be asked. If you have prepared for the worst, everything else will seem easy.

If you receive a question which is complicated and confusing, re-state it more simply to check that your intended answer will be on the right track. This process also defuses any hostility which might have been present and gives you more time to get your answer ready.

If you think people in the back row did not hear the question, repeat it for their benefit. This also gives you more thinking time.

Be honest. It is perfectly obvious to the audience when you are lying or ducking and diving around an issue. If you don’t know, say so and state when and how you will supply the information.

Remember to keep eye contact with everybody and not just with the person who asked the question.

Click here to view an explanation on how to deal with questions.