Week 9 – Presentation Skills

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“All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Besides creative writing skills that will enable you to become a successful content creator for your blog or website, our Digital Literacy for EFL Students course encourages you to work on and develop your presentation skills, particularly if you want to be a successful vlogger, or filmmaker.

Moreover, most academic programmes and careers require presentation skills as well. Anyone who understands some underlying techniques and principles about presenting will be a more confident speaker. Speaking effectively and persuasively is something anyone can learn and develop with practice.

So, what’s the big deal?

Exactly! The main reason why so many people shy away from speaking in public is fear: the fear of going blank, or forgetting what one had planned to say; the fear of sounding stupid or of boring the audience to death. The deepest fear is that you are being judged, not just what you are saying.

However, if you are familiar with the subject, and you know what you are talking about, the more confident you will be. Therefore, preparation is of highest importance for any presenter, or public speaker.

How you initially organize the amount of information and knowledge on the subject matter is equally important. Often people put off preparing the speech until the time to deliver it has almost arrived. Lack of structure, planning and preparation will give you butterflies in the stomach once you stand up there (in front of your audience or in front of cameras) and deliver the speech.

You should know who you audience are, what is the background of your audience, in terms of age, sex, status and experience. What is their interest in your topic? Will they be a friendly or hostile audience? Does anyone in the audience already know something about the subject?

TIPS: Be excellent in the subject you are presenting and well prepared. Anticipate possible problems and prepare probable responses. Be ready to handle whatever happens spontaneously as it occurs, making instant decisions. Gain plenty of practice and experience at presenting.

It is also very important to know the length of time that you will need for your presentation, as well as the dynamics of it. Asking questions to your audience before you move on to the next point could prove very effective, since you are going to make your presentation more interactive that will engage the audience effectively.

When it comes to the structure of your presentation you have to make sure it has a clear introduction, body and conclusion or closing. During the presentation, you should keep an eye contact with your audience, also use your hands in a variety of gestures, and avoid too much gesticulation (do not fidget with your notes, play with your clothes or put your hands in your pockets). Use your hands to describe and reinforce your verbal message. Avoid pointing at the audience. Be aware of your posture. Stand straight, with assurance, chest up, shoulders relaxed. A little movement is helpful so long as you do so with clear purpose.

Be aware of your voice. Talk louder than normal and try to vary the pitch of your voice. Project your voice to the back of the room, not down at the table in front of you. Speak slowly enough for the audience to capture the meaning of what you are saying. Smile from time to time!

Chose your words wisely, and avoid complicated phrasing that is difficult to follow.

Practice in front of the mirror or in front of a camera at home, to improve your presentation skills.

Have you ever had stage freight? Have you been in a situation where you had to talk in front of people or cameras? How was the feeling? How did you overcome the nervousness?

Please share your stories in the comment section.

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