The awfulness of bad public speaking

It is not often that we sit through a presentation that is so dreadful that we prayed for a hole to open up and swallow the person.

We understand that not everyone enjoys public speaking, and our advice is not to do it. There are however times when you simply have to speak publicly because of your role. By public speaking, we don't just mean in front of a lecture, at an event, but also in meetings and one-on-one presentations.

What can you do to make sure you impress?

Other than follow the golden rules outlined in the image, here are some pointers that we give our clients:

1. Keep your hands out of your pockets. It looks ghastly if you are a bloke and weird if you are a woman.

2. Do not fidget or move around or rock. These are signs that you feel uncomfortable.

3. Practice, practice and practice. This is crucial whether you are giving a powerpoint presentation or talking from notes. Practice before hand so you know when to breathe, how to pronounce a word, make changes in the speech to make it flow better. Practice in front of a mirror, a friend, your cat...anything and anyone, just do it.

 Avoid the hearse, go and rehearse.

4. If you are writing your own presentation, make sure you include at least three stories which demonstrate the problem you have solved, the challenge you overcome, the people you are working with. Stories make for a more interesting presentation than facts and figures.

5. Don't um, ah and you know. No I don't know which is why I am listening to you, why are you umming and ahhing, don't you know what you are talking about? A tip from us is when you are practicing, get someone to sit and listen to you and to make a note of all the poor speaking habits you have. If you cannot find someone, tape yourself. You will soon work out that your presentation skills need polishing.

6. Just refer to your notes, don't read from them. We write speeches which have pauses, sub heads, and with two line spaces. Three A4 pages equates to around 3 minutes, a good length for recalling the points. It will make you appear more relaxed and you will avoid switching the listener off.