10 Top Tips for a successful presentation: Learning from stand-up comedians

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10 Top Tips for a successful presentation: Learning from stand-up comedians

Some of the facets of stand-up comedy can be used in a business presentation context. Learning from stand ups can help structure and prepare executives for an important business presentation.

Speakers often forget basic principles when addressing an audience. Thinking it through and preparing are key to the success of any presentation.

Gerry Thompson a public speaker trainer, who has worked with individuals as well as corporations in learning and developing, guides us through his top ten bullet points for speakers to consider when preparing a presentation.

1 Preparation

Preparation is the absolute #1 golden rule

– Prepare your material

– Practice your material and be very familiar with it

– Prepare for your presentation setting and any other aspects such as microphone or technology that will be used

2 Access to your content

Make sure you can always remind yourself of what you want to say as you proceed. You can use any of these options:

  • A full script
  • A bullet point list
  • Headings in a slide presentation

Bear in mind that having a full script means less eye contact with the audience, and can come across as less lively in tone. Bullet points is the number one choice.

3 Objective

Be clear on what you want to achieve through the presentation; design your content around the objectives you have set.

4 Structure

Have a beginning, middle and end, even if it’s a short presentation. For instance, introduce yourself and briefly outline what you’re going to talk about at the beginning, and summarise key points at the end, with a call to action.

5 Audience connection

Engage with your audience: make eye contact, engaging content and connecting style of speaking; speak towards the audience rather than down towards your notes

6 Breath

Remember to breathe! Use pauses in your speaking pattern to draw breath, and these will add audience grasp and impact to your delivery – and stop you speaking too quickly

7 Body language

Let your posture and movements be natural; avoid being overly rigid or frenetically active.

8 Nerves or anxiety

Don’t hold a sheet of paper if you’re feeling shaky. Reassure yourself that you’ve prepared very adequately. Have a plan for dealing with anything you can think of that could go wrong.

9 Story

If you can, include an element of relevant personal narrative or anecdote to your presentation

10 Be yourself

Draw on your own individuality and let this come through in your presentation

Gerry is founder and director of Positive Comedy, running training and coaching services for people in business, mental health service users and professionals, youth organisations, and regular folks. Common training objectives include confidence and self-presentation, communication skills, team-building, and humour. Gerry Thompson has been engaged to run training sessions and courses for staff of such organisations as American Express, JP Morgans Investment Bank, LLoyds Bank,  Scottish Power Learning, DAF Trucks, the Environment Agency, Southern , the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, and Alternatives London.

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