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 BodyBuilding.com. 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.
*by W.S. Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan from The Mikado
Your homework assignments:
Watch the videos
These videos are meant to be funny parodies of TED Talks, but they demonstrate how effective good presentation skills are.
Decide on your topic for your first speech: the Ice Breaker.
This speech is to introduce yourself to Mrs. Krajci and the rest of the class.
It can be about anything you want to talk about – as long as it’s about you.
You can talk about your favorite hobby, game, or pets.
You might want to tell us a story about something you did or something that happened to you.
Remember, a speech has 3 parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.
Which one should you write first?