Presentation Skills Checklists
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t fret over mistakes; human beings are imperfect.
- Be yourself!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.