powerful presentations

Was it good for you? Oh Yeah.

It doesn't take long for an audience to form an impression, so you need to maximize every tool you've got – from hand gestures to voice inflection – to make a positive impression and a solid connection.As a rule of thumb, I consider a conference successful if I walk away with a couple of good, usable ideas. At a recent Portland Communicator’s conference, I learned five ways to improve communication from a single presenter. Jim Endicott’s talk, “Being Heard in a Sea of Voices,” offered an overview on what makes an effective presentation. He provided fundamentals that can get you on the road to making impressive presentations to clients, prospects and management.

Here is what I learned:

  • First impressions happen fast. Research suggests it may take as little as five seconds for an audience to judge if your presentation is worth listening to or not.  
  • Use eye contact to engage the audience. Have three- to five-second conversations with people in the group throughout the presentation.
  • Use hand gestures to punctuate key points. Make the gestures bold and relevant.  
  • Use the stage. Movement can energize and engage the audience.  
  • Use voice inflection to excite the audience and emphasize thoughts.


For more information about Jim Endicott and his firm, go to www.distinction-services.com.

Look the Part, Act the Role

Whether press conference or presentation, people watch better than they listen. You need to look the part and act your role, paying as much attention to your body language as your words.

From the first time we open our eyes as babies, people learn by seeing. We take cues, form judgments and sense emotions by watching the movements of people.

Studies show body language conveys even more emotional information than facial expressions. Together, they speak volumes. 

If you fidget at a podium or garble your words, your audience will sense a lack of confidence and may discount what you say, regardless how persuasive or profound your point.

So, in addition to carefully crafting your words, the effective speaker and presenter meticulously practices his or her delivery — exactly like an actor.

In fact, you should think of a media interview, press conference or presentation in the same way as a stage play. You have a role to play and you need to look the part and act the role.

Here are a few tips:

Avoid weak postures

You tip off your audience that you are nervous or unsure of yourself by slumping, sticking your hands in your pockets or clasping your hands behind your back. These are seen as weak as opposed to power postures. Leaning forward at a podium or a table signals confidence and a desire to connect with your audience.

If you answer questions following a speech or press conference, don't cross your arms, which is a sign of defensiveness.

The key is to be mindful of your movements, especially your hands. They can underscore your meaning or confound and distract an audience if out of sync with your message.

Start Strong

Great speakers don't begin with apologies or lame jokes. They lean into their topic and form bonds with their audiences.

Start with a strong first line — an intriguing question, a startling admission or a thought-provoking statement.