Have a strong presentation style

Presentation style is about how you use eye contact, your body and your voice and  in order to engage with your audience.

Strong eye contact

  • Rehearse your content enough that you don’t need a script.
  • Don't hold a script in your hand to avoid depending on it.
  • Put brief notes on small cards as prompts only.
  • Glance at your notes but continue talking whilst looking at your audience.
  • Make sure your notes are in the correct order before you start.
  • Don’t stare at just one person.
  • Move your eyes naturally around the audience. Avoid scanning the room quickly.
  • If you feel uncomfortable looking people in the face, pick a couple of spots above the audience's heads and glance between them.
  • Avoid reading from the screen: the audience can’t see or hear you if you do this.

Strong body language

A presenter who fidgets with something in their pockets, rattles their keys, shuffles their papers or plays with their hair will almost always deliver a weak presentation.The presenter is distracting the audience and drawing the audience's attention away from their face. They probably feel shy, lack confidence or are feeling nervous.

  • Keep your body facing the audience
  • Don’t clamp your hands rigidly at your sides or cling to the podium
  • Don’t put your hands in your pockets
  • Use your hands expressively to emphasise points
  • Don’t use your hands hysterically (you are not a windmill)
  • If you want to point something out on the screen, turn, point it out and then turn back to the audience to speak
  • Try to relax; don’t be too tense or rigid
  • move around during the presentation but not excessively
  • Don’t pace from one end of the platform to the other
  • Practice!

Strong voice
Mumbling, being too quiet or too quick are all common problems.In the video, Una's second attempt was much better:

  • her voice was clear and loud
  • her delivery was well paced
  • pauses were used to keep the audience with her.

Improving your voice might involve:

  • recording yourself and listening carefully to your own voice – can you do it again, louder and more clearly?
  • rehearsing in front of other people
  • asking them to comment on your voice.

Confidence and good subject knowledge
We always trust a speaker who delivers a presentation with confidence. It is easier to pay attention to someone who does it with conviction.  It also helps if the speaker is prepared to take questions and capable of giving answers (even if that answer is ‘I’m afraid I don’t know.’)

How do you get that confidence?
  • thorough research and thinking time prior to scripting the content.
  • general or further knowledge in the area you are talking about.
  • familiarity with the content of your presentation.
  • practice and rehearsal time.
  • calming your nerves before you begin.
Presentation style (PDF opens in new window)