Public Speaking Tips: Dispelling the Myths of a Great Presenter


Looking for tips to become a great presenter? The Book of Lists conducted a survey to find out people’s # 1 fear. It wasn’t swimming with sharks, creepy-crawly spiders or even falling into financial ruin.


Topping out the list was public speaking!


No wonder there are so many crazy pointers on how to overcome this fear! Wouldn’t it be great if there were one key point to remember that would instantly create success for you while delivering a presentation?


You’ve probably heard some of these tips before – but none of them work.


They are all myths.


Myth #1: Imagine the audience naked. This was a silly way to make people laugh so they can conquer fears. If you really think about it, imagining a naked audience is more scary than funny. If you actually pretended your audience wasn’t wearing clothes while trying to remember last month’s budget numbers, I assure you, you will not be laughing or relaxed. This idea came from a clever book title – it was never intended to be a real strategy for presentation success.


Myth #2: Scan the audience to make sure you look at everyone. Huge mistake! Scanning causes a series of problems. First, it requires you to glance around the room so you aren’t connecting with any one person. When you scan, you talk faster, you move too quickly, and you limit your gestures. Basically, nothing good happens when you scan. Your goal is to communicate a complete thought to one person at a time.


Myth #3: Don’t look at people, look at something in the back of the room. The intention for this pointer is good. If you avoid looking directly at people, you won’t be as nervous, right? Well, this might reduce your performance anxiety, but you certainly won’t connect with your audience if you don’t make eye contact with them. You will end up presenting without emotion and appear very stiff. You do want to look directly at people to gauge their reactions so you can respond to their nonverbal behavior.


Myth #4: Put everything you know on the PowerPoint® slides.
This pointer can be good or bad. Yes, go ahead and put full sentences on the slides if you are giving them as a leave-behind. This will allow your audience to refer to the content after the presentation. But, never put everything you know on PowerPoint® slides if you are standing in front of a room to present the content. The more information on the slide, the harder it is to deliver it. Busy slides require you to read and present with a monotone voice. You want to have a PowerPoint® presentation with bullet points and key phrases to promote smooth delivery. Save the full-sentence version for the handout.


Myth #5: Don’t look people in the eye, look at their forehead or the top of their head. This tip can cause problems. People respond to where your eyes move, and they may even start to touch or rub their heads. The audience will find this behavior confusing and distracting. Avoiding eye contact will not help you connect with your audience – or remember what to say. Your goal is always to look people right in the eye when you talk to them.


Looking for more tips to become a great presenter? Check out our onsite business presentation skills training programs.


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