Breathing, Jumping, and Storytelling Enhance Presentations

February 8, 2008 at 8:17 am 1 comment

I love to give talks and jump (no pun intended, read on to see why!) at the chance, but I know many people who do not gleefully anticipate giving a talk. Tonight I spoke at the Greater Boston Chapter of ASTD, and was one of a number of presenters speaking on Effective Presentations Skills. In this fantastic session, I learned a lot from the other presenters, most notably (this is off the top of my head) to breathe deeply to be calmer, to jump in place repeatedly (before a presentation, not on stage!), to have a conversation not give a presentation, to crave feedback to improve presentation skills, to use humor at the start of a presentation, and to use storytelling to make presentations more compelling and memorable.

The last one comes from me, and I learned the benefits of storytelling from teaching online. Storytelling at a Distance goes into many of the reasons why storytelling is effective and, personally, I have more fun and am more relaxed telling a story than addressing bullet points on a slide. While storytelling is generally what a presenter does, it is often beneficial to elicit stories from the audience to make a point that resonates with the audience (or should I say the people I am having a conversation with?) However, it is helpful to have a plant in the audience in case no one volunteers or if you want to have a sense in advance of what someone will say or how long they will talk for.

Finally, I learned last night that, when in PowerPoint, “B” turns the screen black and “W” turns it white for those times when you want to hide your slides but not put everyone in the dark. I can’t wait for my next talk so I can try that and the other tips I received.

Entry filed under: e-learning. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Patrick OMalley  |  February 11, 2008 at 3:02 am


    As a member of the board of ASTD, I can tell you that we were very excited to have an “industry superstar” like yourself to add credibility to our event.

    Here is another quick PowerPoint tip from my presentation. You can jump to any slide number in your presentation by putting in the number followed by the Enter key.

    For example, if you are on slide number 4, and you are asked a question that can be answered by jumping to slide 20, you can jump there directly rather than skipping by all of the others one by one.

    Feel free to email me if anyone wants the slides, which give more detailed examples, techniques for putting a slide number on each page, and the idea of creating a “conditional presentation”.


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Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM

Lisa GualtieriLisa Gualtieri is Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine. She is Director of the Certificate Program in Digital Health Communication. Lisa teaches Designing Health Campaigns using Social Media, Social Media and Health, Mobile Health Design, and Digital Strategies for Health Communication. Contact Lisa:


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