Presentation Skills Put Your Body Into Your Speech

Presentation skills are the difference between a speech and an essay.  When I’m reading an essay, I can put in any emphasis I want.

Consider this poem.

To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!

Read it out loud with a deep voice, taking your time with each word.

Now do it again in a sharp, high-pitched, scared voice.

One voice is the executioner and the other is the prisoner.  Which one do you think is which?

When I’m reading, I can make that poem sound any way I want to imagine.  (If you want to hear a version of it, try this video. It’s not precisely how it was originally written.)

I don’t have to imagine what the speaker might sound like in a speech.  I might want to reinterpret what I heard, but if the presentation skills are strong, I generally can’t change the meaning (unless I change the context – such as that poem.)

Why are presentation skills so important?

1.  We want to see you.

That’s why we don’t want to have you looking at the floor.  The floor doesn’t care about your message.  We do.

We can’t see you hiding behind your notes.

So the first thing to learn is how to hold up your head while you’re speaking.

Good posture is not very common anymore.  We’ll have to work at it.  First you can look at the images on this website  Next, try the exercises you see on this website.  Strengthen your body and straighten your back so you’re ready to hold up your chin and talk to us.

2.  We want to hear you.

Learning how to project your voice is a physical skill.  It’s not just about getting louder.  It’s about using your mouth, your throat, and your lungs to make a bigger sound.

Bigger does not equal louder.  It means more pronounced, more resonant.

But not only bigger, but clearer.  Try using some tongue twisters to work out your tongue and your jaw muscles.

How you use your body will determine how well we can see and hear you.

We have talked about overcoming stage fright.  We also need to develop our bodies in ways that will improve how we present our message to our audience.

Extra Credit

Which presentation skill do you think is most important?  Why do you think that? (minimum 50 words.  Videos of examples would be awesome!)




*by W.S. Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan from The Mikado


One Comment:

  1. I think the most important presentation skill is being able to write non-boring speeches. I think this is important because even if you can talk loud, but your speech is boring and nobody is going to listen to you, then what is the point of even giving the speech? I think all presentation skills are very important, but it is most important to be able to write interesting speeches.

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