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Key Tip: Watch good speakers and analyse what makes them good – and vice versa


  • Rehearse. Ask for feedback on your delivery from friends. Ask them to comment on voice, body language, nervous tics that distract
  • Check out your timing
  • Check out domestic arrangements – loos, fire exits, times of breaks, accessibility – does your audience need to know this?
  • Check and double-check the technology with the venue.
  • Think about how you look. Are you portraying the image that you want people to see?
  • More importantly, think about things that will distract audience from your message.
  • Think about where a microphone will clip.
  • Breathe deeply, relax. Do a little exercise to use up some adrenalin

Starting and performing

  • Eye contact, smile, deep breath. Stand up straight, greet the audience.
  • Take your time – if you act confident, you will be. If you act confident, the audience will feel safe.
  • Speak to your audience, not to your slides.
  • Think about where to stand. Don’t block any visuals. Standing behind a table or lectern may feel more protected, but cuts you off from the audience.
  • Don’t believe you can think things through while you’re delivering. Until you’re very practised, you can’t.
  • Beware irritating ticks – physical and verbal – they distract from the message.
  • Don’t sound as though you’re reading from a script. Use notes only so that you talk naturally.


  • Don’t try to get rid of the butterflies – get them flying in formation.
  • Remember if you know your stuff then you know more than them.
  • Be clear – why are you here? What is the core intention? Remember this is a performance, so enthusiasm, confident stance. Stand still. You’ll lose the audience if you appear nervous
  • Breathe, speak slowly. Remember eye contact.
  • Be in control
  • Use your voice – vary tone, volume, speed


  • How to handle people talking among themselves?
  • Pausing is fine.
  • It’s OK to make a mistake or not know the answer to a question.
  • If someone is rude, be measured and charming and diplomatic.
  • If no-one asks questions, move on.


Alison Trinder October 2020