I wanted to provide some quick tips for you to improve your presentation skills. Read, Study, Re-read, memorise and generally imprint the following books, blogs and tips on your brain.
1. Read the book Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.
2. Really Bad PowerPoint by Seth Godin (link to download the PDF)
3. Grab the book Speech-Making and Presentations Made Easy by Dr Max Atkinson. Check out my review on Amazon.
4. Read Presentation Zen, the blog of the book by Garr Reynolds
5. More than PowerPoint, the blog by Laura Bergells makes you think about your presentations and shakes you up with a bit of humour.
6. Check out Speak Schmeak, by Lisa Braithwaite. Some great contrary views to received wisdom
7. Pick up a copy of Top Comedy Secrets by Steve Roye
8. Go to the Six Minutes blog by Andrew Dlugan as he has some solid advice on speaking and presentation skills
9. Speaking about Presenting, is the blog of Olivia Mitchell, who provides great insight and is fun to have pizza with too.
10. A great supporting blog to this one – The Stand-up Comedy Professional. It’s by Steve Roye author of Top Comedy Secrets. Some brilliantly radical views on the art and craft of comedy and my comedy mentor.
12. Read comics (you know Batman, Spiderman and so on) and study how they use image and text. How can you apply those lessons?
13. Grab a book on how to storyboard, which is a technique that they use when making a film. Think about designing your message and slides in unison like this.
14. Go and speak somewhere. Toastmasters is pretty much recommended by everybody including myself. However, as a small caveat I would make sure that you keep your movements and body language natural and fluid. Some Toastmasters have a tendency to “over egg the pudding” and go overboard with the gestures. It’s probably because in contests that’s one area that carries a lot of points.
15. More audience time – where else can you give speeches or presentations? A local Scout group, Rotary club, the local PTA, and so on. The more you speak, the better you’ll be.
16. Do stand-up comedy. Toastmasters magazine once described stand-up comedy as “extreme sports for speakers”. I guarantee one thing, if you do a few regular gigs any public speaking fear you might have will rapidly diminish. Doing stand-up raised the bar of fear for me.
17. Exercise your right brain. Do some paintings, doodle, and draw some still life or portraits.
18. Play some music. If you can’t play and instrument, pick up one you’ve always fancied learning and start. Here’s a link to an online piano to get you started:
19. Write poetry. Read some books on poetry and by poets and give it a shot. It will help you use words more concisely and create images through your words. What better way to connect to an audience than by creating the presentation slides in their minds?
20. Read comedy books and attend comedy classes, but be careful. Many of them teach comedy writing techniques such as the rule of three, which is like teaching you how to do the icing but without teaching you how to prepare and bake the cake!
21. Take an improv class. Being able to think on your feet to get yourself out of mistakes or other tight spots is a must. It will also allow you to tap into your own creativity and sense of humour.
22. Go to the theatre and watch a play. You might get inspired by the use of the stage set and the piece you watch.
23. Watch a movie, either on DVD or preferably at the cinema. Take note of how it opens and how fast you get to learn who the main characters are and what the story will entail. Your presentation needs to set up all it’s main ideas relatively quickly.
24. Go to a concert or to the Opera. Enjoy the whole spectacle of the event and work out if there’s a way to harness those ideas in your presentation. Not that you’re a performer like that, but sometimes a little theatricality wouldn’t go amiss.
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