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Chapter 6. The Presentation Hand > SUCCESS CARD 25: Know Your Tools

SUCCESS CARD 25: Know Your Tools

As a speaker, you have a number of tools at your disposal: voice, body language, notes, prompters, microphones, and audiovisual equipment. Learn how to use them all. Record yourself as you practice your speeches and listen for variety in inflection, pacing, pitch, and volume. Variety will make your presentation more engaging for the audience. Videotape yourself, too, and check for supportive gestures, active eye contact, and interesting facial expressions. Try not to lock yourself behind a lectern. Memorize your opening and closing remarks and deliver them to the side of the lectern; move behind it for the body of the presentation. If this all seems a bit daunting, consider hiring a presentation skills coach who can give you valuable feedback and guidance in a safe, nonthreatening environment. Working with a coach as your “audience of one” offers you a way to transition from talking out loud to yourself to speaking with confidence before many.

Using notes is an art form. Many people prefer writing speeches word for word and then rehearsing so well that they refer to the notes only occasionally. Others like to use outlines, key words, or mind maps (a graphic flowchart of the outline) for their notes. Try them all and see which works best for you. One word of caution: Use the latter only for material you know thoroughly. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing the audience as you search your mind for words and transitions. Notes should be typed in a large font size and on only one side of the paper. Lay the first two pages out side by side on the lectern, and then slide—don't flip—each page to the left as you read.


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