5 tips to improve your speeches and presentations

By Liam Horan, Sli Nua Careers

Become an accomplished and confident public speaker or presenter with our Public Speaking & Presentations Masterclass

In public speaking and presentations, a key factor is preparation.

Bob Dwyer, the famous Australian rugby coach, once said: “I don’t want a team who want to win on the day of the match – I want a team who wanted to win six months ago.”


Far too often people ‘wing it’ when it comes to speeches and making presentations. It’s as if they believe something will just click into action on the day, whereas the reality is quite the opposite – by failing to prepare, we increase the prospects of nerves taking over, we are more likely to lose our train of thought, and we will transmit a panicky and uncertain air to our audience.

So what format might preparation take? Here are some tips and our Public Speaking & Presentations Masterclass (https://goo.gl/w1C0Bn) will bring your speeches and presentation to the next level.

  1. Evaluate your audience. What age are they, what are their interests, why are they here? What are they hoping to get from this presentation? A presentation is not really about you, it is about the audience. Zig Ziglar, the American sales guru, said that one way of getting what you want from life is by helping others get what they want. When you think about your audience in depth, you can meet their needs – and these needs might be as eclectic as having a good night out, learning something new or not feeling uncomfortable as can so often happen when a bad speaker takes to the podium.
  2. Plan your speech carefully – how you’re going to get early impact, how you are going to give it regular ‘lifts’ throughout, and how you are going to conclude (e.g. by summarising what you’ve already said or by leaving your audience to ponder a provocative or challenging concept). Contemplate your beginning, middle and end: if you’re using humour, is it nicely balanced, suggestive rather than explicit, and subtly left there for the audience to savour and enjoy?
  3. Know your environment. Will there be a lectern? Will you be standing at the top of the room? Will there be somewhere for you to leave your notes? If you’re using a presentation, will the screen be behind you? You may not be able to get to the venue a few days earlier – in this case, you can always ring the event organisers and asked them to send you a photograph and to talk you through the location. Last-minute surprises can really throw even the best of speakers.
  4. Know the probable length of your slot: too much time, or too little time, can be a real irritant on the day. I can recall an occasion where I left it too late to check and discovered that my speech the following day would not be 10 or 12 minutes as I had expected, but a whopping 45 minutes. This was a dear lesson. I should have checked weeks earlier.
  5. When you’re finished, sit down. That might sound like very simple advice but it is not a good idea to continue talking beyond that point where you have said all you want to say. Leave the audience wanting more.

Become an accomplished and confident public speaker or presenter with our Public Speaking & Presentations Masterclass