Prof. Jeff Gaspersz – Better Public Speaking: Tips 1-7

I give a large number of presentations per year for rooms ranging from 1000 or more people to the small masterclasses of 25 people. I am affiliated with various speaker agencies and have been doing this for over 25 years. During my speaking career, I have made a number of observations about good public speaking that I would like to share with you. So they are based on my own experiences, my reflections on why one presentation worked better than another. The tips below are usually not in the books on “how do I become a good speaker?”. It is important that you simply determine for yourself what works for you or not. Consider the tips below as search directions.

Tip 1:

Use as many images as possible in your slides. Time and again I have noticed that an audience reacts differently to slides with words, graphs, and tables than to slides with beautiful photos. With the slides with words, many immediately start writing them down and people are frustrated when you go to the next slide before it is written down. With photos, people relax and pay more attention to your words. Photos also give the freedom to say what you want, while you really have to discuss those 4 bullet points one by one.

Tip 2:

Use as many stories as possible. This is the strength of many US speakers. They tell stories while a Dutch or German speaker tends to structure and model the presentation. When you tell a story to an audience, they are not just listeners. It is as if they are part of the adventure. That is why people listen breathlessly to stories.

Tip 3:

Loosen your voice beforehand. It is very common for theater actors and singers to do voice exercises beforehand to loosen the voice and let it ground in the body. As a speaker, it is also important that your voice is grounded in the body and therefore carries it far. You also feel calmer with a grounded voice. Even if there is sound reinforcement, you can immediately hear whether a speaker is only speaking from the throat or whether the voice is grounded. A grounded voice sounds more pleasant. On YouTube, there are many nice videos about good use of the voice.

Tip 4:

Make eye contact with the friendly-looking people in the audience. That positively influences your own mood and security. Actually, these people give you appreciation even before your presentation is over. That encourages during the presentation.

Tip 5:

Countless books and articles have been written about overcoming fear of public speaking. Fear of public speaking mainly stems from the ego that is afraid of being damaged when it does not work (“I am going down”) or because control is lost 

It is not possible to reassure the ego with words such as: “I am well-prepared anyway”. The ego keeps inventing doom scenarios. Moreover, the fears get attention so they grow.

What does help is shifting attention, such as, “It’s not about me at all? But that I want to give the audience a pleasant experience or,“ I want to change their thinking on this subject. ”,“ How grateful I am to have the opportunity to speak to this audience. ” A well-known violinist curbs her stage fright by saying to herself: “I’m going to show the audience how beautiful this music is.” In short, divert attention from the frightened little ego and find thoughts that put one’s own performance in the perspective of something higher.

Tip 6: Every speaker knows the situation.

Only 30 slides to go and the moderator indicates that you have to finish within minutes. Do not make the mistake of quickly browsing through the slides on the beamer on the way to the closing slides. The audience is disappointed that some slides have not been discussed. So use the function in the software to skip slides that are invisible to the public. In PowerPoint, you give each slide a number beforehand and during your presentation, you key in the number of the desired slide and then press ENTER. PowerPoint will then go directly to that slide. The audience thinks that slide was your next slide, while you actually skipped many slides. 

Tip 7: Visualize a grand presentation beforehand.

See yourself presenting powerfully and convincingly. Watch the enthusiastic reactions of the audience, the applause, the chairman of the day. Such visualizations make you mentally stronger and you are even better prepared. When you are on stage, you are doing the presentation for the umpteenth time, as it were!

Felix Tammi

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