Posts tagged ‘presentation’

10 Things You Can Do To Be a Brilliant Orator

If you are going to give a talk, you might as well be a brilliant orator, a phrase that has been used to describe Julius Caesar, Barack Obama, and many in between. Here are 10 things you can do to improve your oratory performance:

  1. Have an interesting message to convey. It sounds simple, but, if it was that easy, why doesn’t everyone do it?
  2. Have a conversation with your audience. Orating does not mean lecturing or preaching. It means conveying a message to people. Since each person took the trouble to be there to hear you, talk to him or her.
  3. Do not read your slides or notes. If you do, I guarantee someone (if not many) will think, “I can read that myself so why am I listening to this person?”
  4. Don’t say “umm”. Pause instead. Or breathe. (Well, always breathe.)
  5. Look friendly and approachable. You know how people like babies and cute animals? You want people there to like you because they will get more out of your presentation.
  6. Use self-deprecating humor, which will never offend people. Surely there is something funny you can say about yourself!
  7. Tell a story to illustrate to illustrate your point. Stories tend to be memorable and thus a good reminder of your message. They are also fun to tell and if you are having fun your listeners are more likely to as well.
  8. If someone asks a question, don’t be nervous because you are the expert. Worst case , if you don’t know how to answer the question, answer a different question that you do know the answer to that is at least related.
  9. Have a plant in the audience to ask a question that you want to answer. This way you will look good and you avoid having to wonder why no one asked a question. Usually after the first question you will get others (see #8).
  10. Tape a practice session and actually watch or listen to it. It is very painful to do! A few years ago I gave a talk that was streamed on the internet and it took me 3 months before I could watch it, but it was pretty good except I said “umm” too much (see #4).

March 15, 2008 at 7:31 am 4 comments

Breathing, Jumping, and Storytelling Enhance Presentations

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.

February 8, 2008 at 8:17 am 1 comment

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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