Powerful Presentations: Useful Tips and Tricks
Powerful Presentations: Useful Tips and Tricks
Post written by Paragon Interiors   July 24, 2019

You look out across a sea of faces. You can feel your heart rate quicken and your breathing shallow. It suddenly starts to feel as if someone has put the heater on in the room and the temperature shoots up like a hot summer’s day in KZN. Your hands start to feel clammy and a tremor makes its way through your body. It feels as if you have binge eaten a tub of peanut butter and you have trouble swallowing. When you reach for your glass of water, your hands shake like the dancers in Beyoncé’s music videos and you start to think about how the crowd is now acutely aware of your nerves. That makes you feel even more anxious… and the cycle continues…

Glossophobia, or a slightly milder form thereof, is a fear of public speaking and is believed to effect up to 75% of the world’s population (Black, 2018). For some the fear is akin to what is described above, for others, it may mean a familiar twinge of anxiety when addressing a group that leaves you feeling a tad breathless and unsettled.

Whatever the extent of the anxiety that you experience when presenting to a group of people, there are a number of practical tips and tricks that can better prepare us for ground-breaking speaking events:


  1. Start with the unexpected – but know it well!

Within the first ten to twenty seconds of a speech, the audience will evaluate your credibility and their interest in what you have to say. The first tip is to start with the unexpected. A quote, a funny quip, a personal story… Something that the audience will remember and that immediately creates a good and lasting impression… But, know it well. Rehearse it until you are confident in delivering the introduction.

If you nail the introduction and receive a positive reaction from the audience, you will feel that much more confident in delivering the rest of your speech.


    1. Make use of questions throughout

Check in with your audience regularly by making use of questions throughout the presentation. These may be:

      1. Rhetorical – where you don’t expect a response
      2. Hook questions – where you ask a question and answer it yourself during the course of your speech
      3. Questions where a response from the audience is required this is where it is important to stay the course and wait for a response. So often, we are anxious that no one will respond so we rush forward without allowing the audience time to process what we have asked
      4. Tie downs genius two-word questions that can be added to the end of some of your sentences that sub-consciously encourage buy-in and agreement from the audience… won’t they, shouldn’t they, can’t they, shouldn’t it?


  1. Use humour and personal stories

Relatable humour is always effective in maintaining your audience’s attention and establishing an emotional connection with them. It should be appropriate for the audience (NB insert here – research your audience well beforehand) and related to the topic at hand. A good way to incorporate humour is by telling a short 15-30 second personal story. We are hard wired as human beings to enjoy listening to stories!

By telling a short story, you reveal a bit about yourself to the audience and interestingly, people look for some vulnerability in presenters. It makes them more relatable and ‘human’.


  1. KISS

Not in the literal sense, but Keep It Short and Simple. Every point that you mention in your speech should lead towards the objective of your presentation. Decide beforehand what the objective is – what do you want the audience to do, feel, think upon conclusion of your talk? Be brave enough to remove any content from your speech that does not support your objective. A general tip is to stick to three main points.


  1. Always move from the known to the unknown

This is how people learn best. Start off with information that they are familiar with and work your way through to new concepts and ideas.


  1. End with a bang

End the way you started, with a bang! Something unexpected that sums up your message for a lasting impression.

These tips, along with keeping a glass of water at hand (note the glass and not a closed bottle of water – fumbling with the lid is likely to make you feel more anxious), smiling during your presentation (smiling is contagious and triggers the release of happy hormones in others), maintaining eye contact (being sure to include the entire audience and not to hyper-focus on a particular group) and varying your intensity, pitch and the intonation of your voice (recording yourself speak is a good way to practice this J) will go a long way in helping you deliver an effective speech.

And remember, delivering an effective presentation does not necessarily mean the absence of nerves but succeeding in your objective in spite of them.


We endeavour to keep you actively engaged throughout our presentations to you! If you are looking for a cutting edge, professional design firm that can deliver your project from concept design right through to the placement of furniture in your new office – look no further! Call Paragon Interiors on 011 706 5123 today!


Black, R. (2018). Glossophobia (Fear of Public Speaking): Are You Glossophobic. Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/glossophobia-fear-of-public-speaking
Kim, L. (2018). 20 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills. Retrieved from https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/11/19/how-to-improve-presentation-skills
Robinson, M. (2016). Presentation Skills – How to Keep Your Audience’s Attention. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jORl4e8pBiI