Having the skills necessary to deliver effective and engaging presentations to a variety of audiences.


A good presenter can convey his or her message in a way that the audience clearly receives and understands. Hopefully, the presenter is also able to help the audience interpret, apply and transfer the important concepts into their own lives.

In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.Titus 2:7b-8

Skilled Characteristics

  • Variety

    Is effective in a variety of formal presentation settings: one-on-one, small and large groups, with peers, direct reports, and bosses

  • In/Out

    Is effective both inside and outside the organization, talking about both data and difficult topics

  • Facilitative

    Commands attention and can manage group process during a presentation

  • Flexible

    Can change one’s presentation approach midstream if the approach isn’t working

“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

– Mark Twain

Unskilled Characteristics

  • Unskilled

    Not a skilled presenter in varying situations

  • Shy

    May be shy, especially around new people

  • Disorganized

    May be disorganized; presentations lack focus

  • Dull

    May have a monotone voice or grating style

  • Not Interactive

    Doesn’t listen to the audience or ask for their input and questions

  • Habits

    May have personal mannerisms and habits that get in the way

  • Unprepared

    May be unprepared for or unable to handle tough or unexpected questions

  • Rigid

    May always present the same way, not adjusting to audiences

  • Defensive

    May lose one’s cool during hot debate

  • Nervous

    May be nervous, even scared when speaking

“All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Causes of Weakness

  • Pressure

    Can’t take pressure/stress

  • Disorganized

    Has difficulty clearly organizing and expressing thoughts and ideas

  • Conflict Averse

    Doesn’t like the potential for open conflict when presenting on difficult subjects

  • Skills

    Is a monotone or unexpressive presenter

  • Fear

    Gets nervous and/or emotional when speaking in front of others

  • Shy

    Doesn’t like attention or is overwhelmed interacting with large groups

  • Tech Skills

    Intimidated by or untrained to use presentation technology

  • Overly Structured

    Thrown off by unexpected questions, comments or situations that come up

“There are 2 types of speakers: Those that are nervous and those that are liars.”

– Mark Twain


Review the simple application steps below and choose 1 or 2 things you can do to spur yourself on to further growth.

  • Prepare

    PREPARE: Make a checklist. What’s your objective? What’s the main point you want to make? What are five things you want the audience to remember and apply? Who is your audience? How much do they already know about your topic? What are three techniques you will use to hold their attention? What presentation technology would work best? What questions might your audience have? How much time do you have?

  • Develop Content

    DEVELOP CONTENT: Start with your end outcomes in mind. What are the objectives of your presentation? State your main purpose in one simple sentence. Then, identify 3 to 5 main sub-topics that will help you achieve the overall goals and objectives. Within each of these sub-topics write down what your main teaching points are. How can you grab the audience’s attention with your introduction? Where can you build in humor? How can you illustrate your points using stories, examples, graphics, pictures, or other props? How can you build in opportunities for your audience to practice or apply each of your main topics? How will you transition between topics? What are the key themes that you want to repeat throughout your presentation.

  • Know Your Audience

    KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE: Many times you will have to adjust the tone, pace, style and even the message for different audiences. If you are giving the same presentation to multiple audiences, always ask yourself how each audience is different. Some differences among audiences include level of education, experience, friendly vs. unfriendly, the time sensitivity of the audience, how much the audience expects to participate, how much entertainment they expect, and whether a logical or emotional argument will work better.

  • Rehearse

    REHEARSE: It is best is to rehearse in the actual setting of the presentation. Practice in front of a camera, in front of someone who can give you feedback, or in front of a mirror. Focus on time spent per major point—usually 5 to 10 minutes. Did you go into too much detail? Vary your volume and tone— using a consistent volume and tone will lull the audience to sleep. Use body language and vary your facial expression. Use pauses to give people time to think and reflect, and to drive in a point.

  • Keep it Simple

    KEEP IT SIMPLE: Avoid using big, fancy words that people might not know or that are difficult to comprehend. Use language that it easy to understand and follow. It is much more important that your audience understands you than that they are impressed with your large vocabulary. Avoid using filler words between thoughts like ‘ah’ and ‘uh’, or whatever other filler words you might use in your culture.

  • Use Questions

    USE QUESTIONS: If possible, ask your audience questions that force them to reflect on what you said, what they think, how they feel, what they understand, how your point has relevance to them, and how they might apply what you said to their lives. if the audience is too large, consider asking them questions that they can write down their answers to and/or discuss their answers with 1-3 other people around them. What are the top 10 most likely questions you anticipate from your audience? How might you respond to each question? Similarly, when possible, allow your audience to ask you questions. This helps you gauge how well your audience is understanding you and where you need to clarify your message to them. You can simply occasionally ask the audience a question such as, ‘What questions do you have?’ Don’t feel like you must have the right answer to every question. It is ok to say ‘I don’t know’ or to ask what other’s may think in response to a difficult question.

  • Scared?

    SCARED? You’re not alone. Speaking in front of large audiences is one of the most feared activity for adults. Your worst fears won’t really happen. You won’t pass out. You won’t freeze and not be able to continue. You won’t have to go to the bathroom midway through. You may run short of breath. If so, simply stop and breathe deeply. Your mouth may get dry. Drink something. You may forget what you wanted to say. Refer to your notes. You may stumble on a word. Pause and repeat it. A sweat drop may run down your nose. Wipe it off. You may shake. Hold on to the podium. Look at three different people in the audience who are smiling and receptive. Or look just slightly above everyone’s heads – they won’t realize you’re doing it. Avoid looking at people who are frowning or shaking their heads or doing anything else that is distracting to you.

  • Using Slides

    USING SLIDES? Minimize text – summarize and bullet your main points. Use large fonts. Use graphics and pictures. Finish talking about each slide within 30 seconds.