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Tips and tricks

10 tips to be a better speaker

1. Don't just read off the slides

Get prepared, make speaker notes and practice! A presentation that is put together at the last minute and given without preparation will very likely be disjointed. If you rehearse the presentation a few times before the big day, you will become comfortable with the material and communicate the information with ease.

2. Stand up straight and engage your audience

Posture is important. When you stand upright, you will feel more confident and appear more enthusiastic and interesting. Feel free to ask the audience questions and encourage them to participate.

3. Don't stand in one place

Step away from the lectern: it creates a barrier between you and your audience, whereas your objective is to connect with them. But don't rock from side to side!

4. Be animated, but don't forget to breathe!

When you speak too quickly, you might lose your audience and run out of breath! Maintain a good pace while taking time to breathe. Be sure to enunciate clearly. At the same time, speak with energy and conviction in order to avoid monotony.

5. Let your voice be heard

In large rooms, people at the back may have trouble hearing you if your voice doesn't carry well. Speak loud enough to be heard by all, without straining your voice.

6. Look at your audience

Maintain contact with your audience. Look people in the eye and don't turn away from them.

7. Remember that your audience is interested in what you're saying

Your audience wants your presentation to be good just as much as you do. Don't let your nerves get the better of you. Be genuine and believe in yourself!

8. Leave time for questions

Your presentation could benefit from a question period.

9. Expect the unexpected

You may experience technical problems or be asked a question you don't know how to answer. Don't worry! Be as well prepared as possible and respond as best you can. If you don't know the answer, be honest and say so, then offer to respond to the question via email.

10. Have fun!

Share your passion and inspire your audience on a topic you care about. Enjoy yourself!

10 tips to improve your presentation

1. Few words

Your audience will lose track of what you're saying if there's too much to read in your presentation.

2. Sans-serif fonts

Sans-serif fonts like Arial, Verdana and Calibri are easier to read. These fonts are used in the presentations provided.

3. Contrast

Use dark text on a light background or light text on a dark background. The important thing is to have a good contrast.

4. 20-point font or larger

If the font is less than 20 points, your audience will not be able to read it. Ideally, it should be between 25 and 30 points.

5. Alignment

Text that is flush left or flush right is easier to read than centred text.

6. Compelling visuals

Add relevant images that support your presentation. Avoid pointless visuals that serve only to fill space.

7. …or even some video or audio

Consider adding video or sound to your presentation. But first, check whether they're copyright. (See Golden rules for CSA speakers.)

8. Number of slides

The number of slides in your PowerPoint presentation should not exceed the number of minutes (30 minutes = 30 slides maximum).

9. Minimal slide transitions

Don't overdo it with slide transitions. They can distract the audience from the content, which is the most important thing.

10. Start strong, finish strong

Start your presentation with a catchphrase, a quote, an anecdote or a question—be creative! Conclude with a brief recap of the presentation and thank your audience.

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