Appendix

Presentation Skills Checklists

Body Language

  • Warm up and stretch out before your presentation.
  • Remember that you begin communicating with your audience as soon as you become visible to them.
  • Before you begin speaking, (1) get where you need to go, (2) claim your space, and (3) connect with your audience.
  • Maintain an upright and relaxed posture. Imagine that a string is attached to your sternum, pulling you up toward the ceiling.
  • When seated for a presentation, avoid leaning back in your chair or forward on a table, and try not to fiddle with your pen or other objects.
  • When standing, distribute your weight evenly toward the balls of your feet.
  • Avoid pacing, swaying, handwringing, or other movements that will distract the audience from your message.
  • Stay open to your natural impulses to move.

 

Eye Contact

  • Look your listeners in the eye.
  • Read your audience’s responses and react accordingly.
  • Don’t stare.
  • Avoid making only general sweeps of the audience.
  • Avoid rushing from one face to the next.
  • If you need to refer to notes you are holding, hold them up high enough that you can glance at them without having to drop your head much.
  • When you don’t need to refer to notes, don’t.
  • Practice making eye contact in your daily life.

 

Voice

  • Warm up your voice.
  • Speak loudly enough that the people in the back of the venue can hear you.
  • Articulate so that your words are clear and easily understood.
  • If something is worth saying, then say it like you mean it.
  • Speak at a pace that allows your listeners to digest what you are saying.
  • Vary your tone, pace, and volume.
  • In general, use upward inflections for questions and downward inflections for statements.
  • Remember that silence can be powerful; use it to your advantage.
  • Avoid fillers such as um or uh.
  • Breathe deeply from your diaphragm; breathe as often as you like.

 

Nervousness and Confidence

  • Nervousness is energy. Embrace it. Use it to fuel your presentation.
  • Prepare.
  • Memorize the first words of your talk.
  • If possible, familiarize yourself with the setting of your presentation.
  • Focus on your strengths.
  • Remember that the audience generally wants you to do well.
  • Visualize your perfect presentation.
  • Loosen up and stretch out. Stay loose.
  • Breathe.
  • Don’t fret over mistakes; human beings are imperfect.
  • Be yourself!

 

Content

  • Know your audience.
  • Know your objectives.
  • Understand your topic well and find something in it that matters to you.
  • Engage your audience immediately.
  • Organize your talk logically, making it easy to follow.
  • Develop your ideas with vivid examples and details.
  • If you can say something in fewer words, do so.
  • In your conclusion, emphasize the most important points of your message. Finish with confidence.

 

Presentation Materials

  • Ask yourself whether you really need presentation materials.
  • Remember that visual aids, speaker notes, and handouts all have different forms and functions.
  • Limit text in visual aids. If you do include text, keep it simple and easy to read.
  • Where appropriate, make use of graphical images in your visual aids.
  • Do not allow your visual aids or handouts to upstage you.
  • If you use speaker notes, make sure they are very concise and easy to read.
  • Maintain your connection to the audience. You should be their primary focus, and they should be yours.

 

Question and Answer Sessions

  • Anticipate possible questions and prepare answers to them in advance of your presentation.
  • Listen carefully to questions and respond specifically to what is asked.
  • Ask for clarification if you need it.
  • Before you give an answer, make sure all of your listeners have heard the question; repeat the question if necessary.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so.
  • When answering a question, keep in mind the interests and needs of the entire audience, not just the questioner.
  • Remember that concise answers are usually the best answers.
  • Approach the Q&A session as an integral part of your presentation.

 

Control

  • Remember that you are responsible for maintaining the focus of your presentation.
  • Let your audience know if interruptions are welcome.
  • If you are interrupted, assess the nature of the interruption and evaluate the audience’s reaction before responding.
  • Show proper respect for people who interrupt, but don’t be afraid to use a firm tone when necessary.
  • Be a responsible steward of your audience’s time.

 

Speaking on the Telephone

  • Remember that posture matters, even on the phone, as it affects the quality of your voice.
  • Speak clearly, at a relaxed pace, and support your voice with energy and personality.
  • When placing or receiving calls, identify yourself right away.
  • Don’t ask for five minutes of someone’s time if you really intend to use ten.
  • Avoid using a speakerphone unnecessarily.
  • When using a speakerphone, tell your listeners if anyone else is in the room with you, don’t wander too far from the microphone, and if you use the mute button, use it carefully.
  • On a conference call, identify yourself when you speak if listeners might not know it’s you. Also, avoid talking over people, listen attentively, and don’t make distracting noises.
  • Make your outgoing voicemail greeting clear, concise, and polite. It should also be accurate and current.
  • When leaving a voicemail message, keep it brief and include your phone number, unless the recipient knows it by heart.