Presentation Skills – Some Practice Tips

Practicing these exercises will make the presentation more natural.

Posture — Practice proper posture [feet, knees, hips, shoulders all in a straight line with your arms by your side] when standing in an elevator, standing in line, waiting at a cash machine, during coffee breaks, etc.

Movement – Practice moving your legs at home. Cut out faces from magazines and tape or pin them to chairs and sofas. When talking to one “person” at a time, first look, walk, and stand still for 3 or 4 sentences while talking, then look at someone else and repeat the process.

Gesture — Begin by first becoming more aware of your own natural gestures and practicing the use of gestures for description and/or emphasis. Do you gesture while on the telephone? Do you gesture when talking to a friend, colleague or family member? By increasing your awareness of what you do with your arms and hands in everyday conversation, you will be able to transfer these gestures to all speaking situations.

Facial Animation – Appropriate facial expressions usually correspond to gestures. If you seem overly serious during a presentation, using more gestures will help liven things up. Also practice different facial expressions while talking in the mirror or while driving.

Voice – For volume and variety: For volume, be more aware of breathing deeply from your diaphragm. Lie on the floor with a book just above your belt or waist. Sneeze several times. It should feel like breathing from the diaphragm. Breathe in slowly for a count of 10 to feel your belly expand and then slowly exhale all the air out.

To practice vocal variety, try reading children’s books aloud. Your voice will naturally come alive with the story. Record your voice and listen as it resonates in your head for high voices, in your throat for midrange and deep in your chest for low voices. Using more gestures will also help animate your voice naturally.

Pausing and Pacing – To help eliminate clutter and use proper, controlled pacing, try and pace your voice mail messages before sending them to the recipient. Listen to short sentences that end without clutter and “over-connectors” such as: and, but, and so, and rate your speed.

Eye Contact Place three to four small post-it notes randomly around your workspace. These will be your “eyeballs”. Whenever you’re on the phone, say a short sentence when looking at the first post-it note. After finishing the sentence, pause. Then go to the next post-it note and repeat. This will help you maintain eye contact with one person at a time while completing a thought or sentence and eliminate distracting words.

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