Talking Points
October 2021

How to Present Yourself

Whether pitching clients, meeting with colleagues, reporting to management, or lecturing a group, we all have to give presentations. And even practiced pros want to be better presenters. In this brief article, we pass along a few best practices—courtesy of communications coach and best-selling author Carmine Gallo and Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federigh—that can elevate your presentations.
 
Less is often more.
Watch your word count. You may have a lot of information you want to communicate, but there’s almost always a shorter way to do it. Even the best of speakers are guilty of giving PowerPoint presentations that make the audience dizzy. Design simple, visual slides. And whenever possible, use images instead of text.
 
Show your energy.
Enthusiasm or passion for your topic is infectious. To inspire others, you must show how inspired you feel. “You stand a much greater chance of persuading and inspiring your listeners if you express an enthusiastic, passionate, and meaningful connection to your topic,” says Carmine Gallo. You don’t need to be as animated on stage as Craig Ferighi, but you do need to deliver your message with clear conviction.
 
Watch your time.
What’s the perfect length of a presentation? Remember, attention spans are short. The longer the talk, the more the listener has to work. So to keep your audience from tuning out, keep an eye on the clock.
 
Try a little levity.
The most watched TED talk on YouTube isn’t from Bono, or Oprah, or Bill Gates. It was given by Sir Ken Robinson. Robinson took a serious topic, education, but wove in humor to keep his audience on their toes. Making people laugh, or smile, makes them more receptive to your message.
 
Just be natural.
Your body language says more than you do. Crossed arms, slouching, or abrupt movements tell the audience you’re uncomfortable. If that happens, they’ll be watching your every move, instead of listening to your every word. So breathe, smile, and relax. And practice, practice, practice. Rehearsing will make you much more comfortable when it’s time to step on stage.

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