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Presentation Skills: Can You Hear Me at the Back?

April 15, 2012 by Dr. Jon Warner in Presentation Skills

Once you are into the “meat” of your presentation, the approach that you take will be unique and carry your own “signature”.  However, it should always aim to be clear, sincere, and confident, maintaining as much eye-contact with the audience as possible and not looking at your overheads or down at your feet. It is also important to ensure that your slides or overheads are not too busy or difficult to read in the room, and that you do not end up reading them to your audience (often with your back turned so that you cannot be heard properly).

In addition to the above general advice, once into the main presentation flow, you may find it useful to draw upon the “GLOSS” presentation acronym as various points are made. This acronym means:

  • GGet their attention.  Use an icebreaker, joke, introduction, strong statement – something catchy at the outset.
  • LLink it to their experience.  Why is this topic relevant to them? How can they see themselves connected to your topic?  Find a link and help them make the connection real for them.
  • OObjectives.  Set them!  What are the goals of your talk?  Selling, informing, educating, etc.
  • SState the structure.  Is it sequential, pyramid-based, question-oriented, “meaty sandwich”, and so on.
  • SStimulate and motivate.  Make it interesting and stress “What’s in it for them” (the WIIFM factor)

If used well, it will help to ensure that your audience stays focused and interested in what you have to say.

One of the ways in which you can immediately put energy into your presentation performance is to recognize the importance of your body-language. Positive body language such as holding good eye-contact with individuals for 2-3 seconds from time to time or smiling occasionally will help you to better engage with your audience. Negative body language, such as shuffling your feet, putting your hand in front of your mouth, or turning your back too much, may turn off your audience very quickly.

As your presentation draws to a close your skill in confidently summarizing what you have said and handling any comments or questions will often make the difference between an average and a strong presentation. You can often better prepare for this by thinking about the questions that you are likely to field and by making a few notes for yourself (or in some cases, if there is enough time, even having a few spare slides that you can show). Once again, this is not the time to ramble or take too long and lose your audience in the process. Answer each question as concisely as you can and when the allotted time is up, simply thank your audience and close with confidence, you can finally sit down, take a deep breath and start thinking about what you might improve upon next time you present.

The featured video clip is drawn from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder Presentation Skills Video Vignette Set.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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