Eight Ways to Level Up Your Presentation Skills

Whether you're making a client presentation, giving a speech at a conference, or simply having a conversation with a friend, you want to communicate clearly.

Kelvin Tsang, an experienced member of the Asset Wealth Management Hong Kong Toastmasters Club, recently won third place at an international district-wide Toastmasters speech contest. Below he shares eight strategies for award-winning communication. 

To start, here are his three tips for mastering the basics:

  • Use clear, easily understood language: A great speech needs a clear message. Use precise language to avoid confusion and ensure everyone understands your point. Use examples and anecdotes to illustrate your point and make it more relatable. Avoid anything that may be ambiguous.

  • Finetune your delivery: How you deliver your message is just as important as what you say. Maintain eye contact with your audience to build a connection and convey confidence. Avoid filler words such as "um" and "ah" that can detract from your message and make you appear nervous. Use hand gestures and facial expressions to emphasize your points and keep your audience engaged.

  • Consider your audience: Who are you speaking to and what are their needs? Knowing your audience is crucial to delivering a successful speech. Consider their level of knowledge on the topic and tailor your message accordingly.

Once you've polished those basics, try these techniques:

  • Remember the Rule of 3: Structuring your speech around the number three — using three statements, phrases or examples to reiterate your message — is a tried-and-true technique for maximum impact, making sure your message clear, understandable and memorable. Read more about the Rule of 3.

  • Take a pause: Sometimes, the most powerful thing you can do in a speech is to pause. A well-timed pause can help emphasize your key message, give your audience time to think about what you've said, and let what's been said sink in.

  • Show, don't tell: Storytelling is a powerful tool for engaging your audience and making an emotional connection. Use anecdotes and visuals to help your audience experience your message for themselves. You can also make use of tone of voice, gestures and facial expressions to show you're passionate about the topic, rather than simply stating it.  Bonus: For more insight on using stories to enliven your presentations, check out "The secret structure of great talks" TEDx presentation by Nancy Duarte.

  • Use figurative language: One way to keep your speech fresh and interesting is to use figurative language, phrasing that goes beyond the literal meaning of words to get a message or point across. Metaphors and hyperboles are examples of figurative language. 

  • Practice for progress, not perfection: Do you know it takes an average of 17 times to practice a speech? Practice is essential to delivering a great speech. Focus on making progress and continuously improving. Allocate enough time to practice before delivering your speech, and practice in front of people who can give you constructive feedback.
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