Good Presentation Skills – How to deliver your talk like a Keynote Speaker

Remember, first impressions count when you are delivering a talk, so check out my post on first impressions. How you appear at the podium, how you stand, how you hold yourself, all contribute to audience perception of you as a keynote speaker. So, we want that to be a good perception! Obviously good presentation skills will be irrelevant if your content is poor, but even good content gets lost if presentation skills are weak.

You need to remember, you are in charge of this talk, so you need to look as if you have control. A Keynote Speaker is the person who delivers a speech that sets out the central theme of a conference or a meeting or a training day. You set the tone for all that follows so you need to carry yourself with an air of authority.  You may well be nervous, but your posture can give you confidence if you follow these tips.

  1. Pull your shoulders back and down- this gives you a commanding appearance and allows your chest to expand, so you have more breath.
  2. Set your feet slightly apart, shoulder width, toes pointing towards the centre back of the room- this gives you balance and is the most secure and comfortable way to stand when talking.
  3. Keep your hands at your side, tuck your stomach in and lift your chin- again this helps with breathing and balance.

Keynote speakers connect with their audience as part of good presentation skills

How you connect with your audience is a crucial part of good presentation skills and yet this is often the biggest mistake many presenters make. Actors have bright lights shining in their eyes- so they can look directly at an audience without actually seeing faces. Most presenters can see their audience and this may be when the nerves strike! Your audience wants to be there- keep that in mind! Make eye contact or you become a lecturer in a vacuum and your audience will disconnect. Presentation skills are not about how clever your content is, or how whizzbang your PowerPoint. It is about your human story, your ability to engage your listeners. As the keynote speaker you are giving them the flavour of the conference; the heart of the topics that follow.

Follow these tips

  1. If at a podium with a microphone- test it before the speech and set it so it is at a comfortable height.
  2. Do not feel trapped behind the microphone- you can lean forward for emphasis, back for reflection. Just be careful not to shout- or your voice becomes distorted.
  3. Speak clearly and slowly, don’t rush your content- good presentation skills include clarity and allowing your audience to absorb your words.
  4. Avoid idioms and colloquialisms if speaking to an international audience- you may end up confusing them!
  5. Use your hands for emphasis- but avoid the “windmill” effect of manic waving arms – remember a keynote speaker is in control, so calm, deliberate movements are best.
  6. Vary the tone of your voice- light and shade, a drone is not what an audience wants to hear
  7. Remember to pause, for effect, to allow your audience to catch up, and so you don’t run out of breath!
  8. If you are using a mobile microphone- walk the stage, try to engage both sides of the room but avoid pacing like a caged tiger!
  9. Maintain enthusiasm for your subject- let the audience feel your passion- good presentation skills are not just visual- the tone of your voice has a large impact on your audience
  10. Finally, don’t speak for too long- if your talk is billed as 30 minutes, then speak for thirty minutes.

Good presentation skills are about confidencekeynote speaker Presentation skills

If you follow the tips above you will find you boost your own self confidence and it will show in your voice. Good posture gives you a secure stance, releases tension in your chest and shoulders and helps your breathing. Making eye contact draws your audience in and it helps you to feel as if you are talking to that one person- not a hugely scary, overwhelming room full of people. Above all, be prepared- spend time on preparing your speech and confidence will follow. To quote a great UK based motivational speaker

“Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident.”
Dale Carnegie