Category Archives: Delivery Skills

How To Memorise Your Presentation

2.5 Words

Photo by Pixabay on

There are many techniques we can use to remember our presentation. Even when we have gone blank! In this post we’ll explore three ways to help improve your memory. If remembering a lot of detail is important to you, I suggest you get a copy of The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas.

My favourite method for remembering a presentation is called the Method of Loci. The Loci method is a specific type of mnemonic that uses visualization and spatial memory to help remember information.

Let’s say you are to give a presentation to a team of employees at a company. The main points of your presentation are:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Introduce the team members
  3. Outline the agenda for the meeting
  4. Discuss the first agenda item in detail
  5. Discuss the second agenda item in detail
  6. Discuss the third agenda item in detail
  7. Conclude the meeting and summarize the main points

To use the Loci method, you would first choose a familiar place that you know well, such as your own house.

As you walk up to the front of the house, you see a plaque with the name of the house on it. But this time, the plaque has your name on it, which reminds you to introduce yourself to the team.

As you walk in the front door, you notice a table on the left with a visitors’ book containing all the members of your team. You work through the visitor’s book, introducing each team member to the audience.

As you look down the hall, you see signs outside every room. These are all different, some painted, some neon, some flashing bulbs, some with a light shining on the sign. These signs represent your agenda and are very different from each other, so you will remember them easily. You deliver your agenda to the audience.

You walk into the first room, and work through your first agenda item as different objects in the room represent different aspects you need to talk about. You continue to work through each room until you get to the kitchen at the back of the house, where there is a menu on the table listing the main points that you have just spoken about. This is your summary.

As you look at the fridge, you notice an A4 poster, which is a picture of a team huddling at half-time. This reminds you of your main point, which is your conclusion.

By using the Loci method in this way, you are able to associate each main point of the presentation with a specific location and visual cue, making it easier to remember the information during the presentation.

There are several other techniques that can be used to memorize a presentation, including:

  1. Rehearsing: Repeatedly practicing and delivering the presentation can help commit it to memory.
  2. Chunking: Dividing the presentation into smaller, manageable chunks can make it easier to memorize.
  3. Visualization: Creating visual representations of key points can help embed them in memory. The more bazar the better.
  4. Elaboration: Adding additional information and personal anecdotes to key points can make them more memorable.
  5. Storytelling: Organizing the presentation as a story can make it more engaging and easier to remember and
  6. Mind Mapping: organizing the ideas in a mind map can help you to visualize the whole presentation and it will be easier to memorize.

It’s important to note that different techniques may work better for different people, so it’s a good idea to experiment with a few different methods to find what works best for you.

A Public Speaking Framework

(Hargie, 2016)

1.0 Framework

Public speaking and presenting are closely intertwined activities that share many similarities. They both require a speaker to carefully craft their words, visuals, vocalics, and body language in order to effectively communicate their ideas and connect with their audience. However, the key distinction lies in how these skills are used to achieve the speaker’s desired outcome.

When it comes to public speaking, the audience may be large and unknown to the speaker. To engage successfully, it is essential for the speaker to use their voice and body language dynamically, varying their tone, volume, and pace, and emphasising their words with appropriate gestures and movements. To ensure the audience can relate to the message, the speaker should craft their words carefully and carefully choose their visual aids.

On the other hand, presenting is more focused on a smaller and more familiar audience. Voice and body language are still important, but they must be adapted to suit the audience. The words used may be more technical, as the audience is more knowledgeable about the topic. Visuals are key to making the presentation engaging and helping the presenter explain their topic effectively.

Ultimately, understanding the relationship between public speaking and presenting involves examining the necessary skills and the delivery of these skills. While there are similarities, the execution of these skills must be tailored to the event, audience, and objectives for a successful outcome. By recognizing the nuances of this relationship, speakers can craft dynamic presentations that are tailored to their audience and effectively communicate their message in a way that resonates.

In future posts, we will interchange the terms public speaking and presentation skills to refer to the same abilities.

These four areas – words, visuals, vocalics, and body language – are part of the work of Hargie and Owen and are represented in the above diagram. This is the framework we will be using in future posts to better understand how we can improve our presentation skills.

Q1. Vocal/Verbal is the use of words to convey a message. This includes making the words we use either informative, persuasive, or entertaining and how they are ordered or structured.

Q2. Vocal/Nonverbal communication is the way we use our tone, volume, and inflection when speaking. This form of communication is often used to emphasize words and convey meaning.

Q3. Non-vocal/Verbal is the way we use visuals to help us communicate. This involves the use of slides, handouts and demonstrations.

Q4. Non-vocal/Nonverbal communication is the way we communicate with our body language. This can include gestures, movement, posture, facial expressions, and dress.

It’s important to be mindful that this framework divides verbal and nonverbal communication (NVC) into distinct categories. However, in reality, these skills are highly intertwined and often interdependent.

In our next post, we will discuss Q1. the vocal/verbal or the use of words to convey a message.

Ref: Hargie, O. (2016). Communicating without words: skilled nonverbal behaviour. In Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research, Theory and Practice. Taylor & Francis Group.

Unlock the Power of Nonverbal Cues: Learn How the Right Rest Positions Can Enhance Your Presentation!

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on

Speaking in front of a large group can be intimidating, and it can be challenging to understand how to use your nonverbal cues, especially body language, to effectively convey your message. Body language is an essential part of a successful presentation, and the rest positions you use are an important part of this. In this blog post, we’ll explore how the right rest positions can contribute to the success of your presentation.

There are some simple rest positions to help you feel more confident and keep your hands in check during presentations. From pretending to hold a string or pencil, to creating a tent or gate with your hands, to resting on a chair or flip chart stand, there are a variety of rest positions available. Let’s take a closer look at each of these options and discuss how to use them to the best effect when presenting.

The “String” or “Pencil” Position

This rest position is a wonderful way to feel more grounded and in control. When in this position you are less likely to fidget or wave your hands around aimlessly. To achieve this, hold an imaginary 6″ piece of string between your hands. You can move your hands but only as far as the imaginary piece of string will allow. The pencil technique entails holding an actual pencil between both hands and then perhaps utilizing it to point to a visual aid. After a period, you may decide to put the pencil down and use a different rest position. Utilize a wooden pencil here, since it doesn’t have any distracting clips or buttons to press or flick.

Remember not to hold any rest position for too long, as it may start to look unnatural. Five to ten seconds may be a good duration.

The “Tent” or “Gate” Formation

The tent is an excellent position to use when you want to rest your hands but also emphasize a particular point or add emphasis to a statement. In this position, your fingertips come together in a “tent” shape. For example, you may say “to begin, we need to reach out to our customers through various contact points.” As you say this you bring your fingertips together and hold for a brief period, resting there as you make your point.

Alternatively, your hands can be placed together in a “gate” shape with your palms facing you and your hands overlapping. Be careful here as this may be perceived as closing yourself off to your audience. As with our tent technique, use it to describe the point you are trying to make. For example, you may say “In order to ensure internet security, we need to establish levels of separation between these two processes.” As you say this you bring your hands together hold and pause until your point is made.

Resting on a Chair

This position can be used as a break from other hand gestures. It’s a casual position and is typically used for smaller group presentations where you know the audience. Put a chair to the slide of you with the seat facing away and place one hand on the back of the chair. Typically, the chair will belong to a table, rather than a random chair at the front of the room without any other function. This position is height dependent and may not work if you are tall, so make sure you rehearse it.

Resting on a Flip Chart Stand

Resting your hands on a flip chart stand or a freestanding whiteboard is another option if you are facilitating a discussion. This is a great way to take a break and to give yourself a moment to think. Simply stand next to the chart or board, put one hand on the frame facing the audience, and hold your pen in the other.

In conclusion, we know that the proper use of rest positions as part of a broader nonverbal communication strategy can help you feel more confident and in turn, will engage the audience and make your message memorable.

Don’t Do It! Professor Wegner Reveals Why Telling Yourself Not to Think About Something Increases the Likelihood of Doing It.

Ironic Process – don’t think of a white bear! Photo by Robert Anthony Carbone on

Professor Daniel M. Wegner has discovered a phenomenon that is surprisingly common – telling yourself not to do or think about something often increases the likelihood of actually doing or thinking about it. This phenomenon is known as ironic processing, and it has to do with the way the mind works under pressure.

When we tell ourselves not to do something, two mental processes are triggered – one conscious, and one automatic. The conscious process is in our awareness, and it searches for anything to think about other than the unwanted thought. The automatic process, on the other hand, is outside of our awareness and searches for the unwanted thought. This is where the problem lies – when under pressure, the conscious process may become overwhelmed, and the automatic process takes over and leads to the very thing we were trying to avoid.

This phenomenon can be seen in many forms – from those who swear off unhealthy foods only to find themselves craving them, to someone telling themselves not to mess up and they do exactly what they are trying not to do. Wegner’s research has revealed that the more we focus on not doing or thinking something, the more likely we are to end up doing or thinking it.

The good news is that there are ways to prevent this from happening. Wegner suggests reframing thoughts in a positive way and focusing on what you do want to do or think about, rather than what you don’t. He also suggests taking deep breaths and releasing the pressure. Taking a break from the situation can also help, as it allows us to take a step back and gain a new perspective.

So, the next time you find yourself in a presentation telling yourself not to do or think something, take a breath and remember Professor Wegner’s advice – focus on the positive and the things that you do want to think about, and don’t get overwhelmed by the pressure to avoid it.

Harness the Power of Facial Expressions to Boost your Presentation Confidence

Facial Expression
Facial Expressions Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Giving a great public presentation is more than just having the right words – it also involves understanding the nonverbal elements of communication. Facial expressions are a key part of this, as they are one of the most powerful tools to convey emotion and have a lasting impact on our audience. In this blog post, we will explore the “seven universal expressions of emotion” and discuss how to use them effectively in public speaking. From understanding the importance of setting the right tone to connecting with your audience, we will guide you through the elements of facial expression to help you deliver an unforgettable presentation.

The seven universal expressions of emotion are happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, anger, contempt, and disgust. Each of these emotions can be used to help you create an emotional connection with your audience. Here’s how:

The Seven Universal Expressions of Emotion

  1. Happiness: Smiling is one of the best ways to create an emotional connection with your audience. Not only does it make you seem friendly and approachable, it can also make your audience more likely to remember your presentation.
  • 2. Sadness: If you’re discussing a difficult topic, it can be hard to find the right words. But, by expressing sadness through your facial expressions, you can show your audience that you understand their pain and empathize with their situation.
  • 3. Surprise: If you’re delivering an unexpected message, surprise can be an effective tool to grab your audience’s attention. Just make sure not to overdo it, as too much surprise can make your audience uncomfortable.
  • 4. Fear: If you’re speaking about a topic that could be potentially frightening, you can use your facial expressions to convey the gravity of the situation. It can also help your audience understand the seriousness of the matter.
  • 5. Anger: If you’re trying to rouse your audience to action, anger can be a great way to express your passion and conviction. Just make sure to channel it in a positive way.
  • 6. Contempt: If you’re talking about a situation or person that deserves to be criticized, contempt can be a great way to convey your disapproval. However, be careful not to overdo it, as your audience may view it as an attack.
  • 7. Disgust: If you’re discussing a particularly unpleasant topic, disgust can be an effective tool to communicate your revulsion. Just be sure to use it sparingly, as too much disgust can turn your audience off.

By understanding the seven universal expressions of emotion, you can use facial expressions to create an emotional connection with your audience. This will help you deliver a memorable and impactful presentation. So the next time you’re giving a presentation, remember to use facial expressions to set the tone and connect with your audience.

What’s the science behind this?

The seven universal expressions of emotion, as identified by renowned psychologists Paul Ekman and David Matsumoto, are a set of universal facial expressions that are used by all human beings regardless of culture and language. These seven expressions are the basis of nonverbal communication and are considered to be the core of facial expressions and emotions.

As discussed above the seven facial expressions that Ekman and Matsumoto have identified as universal are as follows: happiness, anger, surprise, fear, disgust, contempt, and sadness. Each of these expressions has a distinct appearance, which can be easily recognized by people from different countries and cultures.

It is important to note that these expressions do not always have the same meaning in different cultures and contexts. While a smile may indicate happiness in one context, in a different context it may represent something entirely different. This is why Ekman and Matsumoto stress the importance of being able to recognize the subtle differences in facial expressions and their meanings.

In order to properly recognize these seven expressions, it is important to observe the whole face and not just focus on a single feature. For example, a person may have a smile on their face, but if they are frowning or their eyes are narrow, the smile may not be an expression of joy. By looking at the whole face, it is easier to determine the true emotion that the person is feeling.

Over the years, Ekman and Matsumoto have conducted extensive research on the seven universal expressions of emotion. They have found that these expressions are universal and can be found in all cultures. They also found that these expressions are strongly influenced by the culture and context in which a person is located.

In addition to the seven universal expressions of emotion, Ekman and Matsumoto have also identified several other facial expressions that are more specific to a particular culture or context. These include expressions related to embarrassment, pride, and surprise.

Overall, the seven universal expressions of emotion identified by Ekman and Matsumoto provide an important insight into nonverbal communication. By understanding these expressions, people can better understand what emotions are being communicated to them and have a better understanding of how to respond in a given situation.

Here are two videos that further explain the seven universal expressions of emotion

Exploring Facial Expressions with Paul Ekman

Are facial expressions learned or innate? Dr. David Matsumoto

Stop Talking and Start Gesturing: 8 Ways to Make an Impact with Nonverbal Communication.

Nonverbal communication is an important part of any interpersonal interaction. It encompasses a wide range of behaviors, including gestures, facial expressions, body language, and eye contact. Nonverbal communication is often referred to as the “unspoken language” and is a powerful tool for conveying messages and emotions.

Gestures are an especially powerful form of nonverbal communication and are used to supplement verbal communication. Gestures can be used to indicate a desire or need, to show approval, or to ask for help. There are a variety of different gestures that can be used, and the specific gesture that is used will depend on the culture and context in which it is being used.

One of the most popular forms of body language and gestures used in public speaking is the Laban Eight Efforts: Punch, Slash, Dab, Flick, Press, Wring, Glide, and Float. By incorporating these movements into your presentation, you can emphasize your points and create an impactful presentation.

Below we have provided a description of each of these movements and provided a link to The Drama Coach, Lisa Southam’s YouTube channel, where you can see each of these demonstrated.

Punch Gesture

Laban Punch is a powerful gesture that involves a quick thrusting action with your arm, as if punching someone. This gesture is great for expressing anger, frustration, or intense emotion. It can also be used to emphasize the importance of a point. The Drama Coach – Punch

Slash Gesture

Slash is a gesture that involves a slicing motion with your arm. This gesture can be used to draw attention to a particular point or to suggest confidence and authority. The Drama Coach – Slash

Dab Gesture

Dab is a gesture that involves a downward motion of your arm, as if dabbing something away. This gesture is often used to express dismissal or to convey a more casual attitude. The Drama Coach – Dab

Flick Gesture

Flick is a gesture that involves a quick movement of your arm, as if flicking something away. This gesture can be used to indicate dismissal or to punctuate a point. The Drama Coach – Flick

Press Gesture

Press is a gesture that involves a pressing motion of your arm, as if pressing something down. This gesture can be used to emphasize a point or to express determination. The Drama Coach – Press

Wring Gesture

Wring is a gesture that involves twisting your arm, as if wringing something out. This gesture can be used to express frustration or to draw attention to a particular point. The Drama Coach – Wring

Glide Gesture

Glide is a gesture that involves a slow, graceful movement of your arm, as if gliding through the air. This gesture can be used to suggest a feeling of freedom or movement. The Drama Coach – Glide

Float Gesture

Float is a gesture that involves a light, floating motion of your arm, as if floating on air. This gesture can be used to express a feeling of peace or contentment. The Drama Coach – Float

By incorporating these powerful gestures into your public speaking, you can capture the attention of your audience and make your presentation memorable. With practice and confidence, you can become a more effective public speaker and make a lasting impression.

So who was Rudolph Laban?

Rudolf Laban was a Hungarian-Austrian dancer and choreographer who is known as the father of modern dance. Born in 1879, Laban was one of the most influential figures in the history of modern dance, helping to develop its scientific foundations and introducing a system of movement analysis and evaluation.

Throughout his career, Laban wrote numerous books and articles, including Kinetographie, a book on the mechanics of movement, The Movement Alphabet, a book about body language, and The Dynamics of Movement, which focused on the physics of movement. He also wrote a series of essays on the history of dance and its relationship to human behavior. Laban’s work was recognized by the International Dance Council and in 1984, he was inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame. Today, his legacy lives on through the work of his students, who continue to explore and develop the principles of modern dance.

How to give amazing eye contact on the web

Link: A methodology to improve eye contact

When we are presenting using a webcam we want to be able to replicate what we see and do live i.e. gestures, body posture, facial expression and eye contact. This is not easy. We can to a certain degree control what we do, but we can’t control what our audiences does.

A lot of the presenting we do today in VC requires us to do a whole range of different tasks while presenting. We have to manage the technology, monitor the chat room and manage our software, which requires us to to be hands on and close to the computer. We do similar things when presenting live, but we can move away from the technology when we are done.

The advice that follows is taken from research on working one on one with a client, but I think we can still take some lessons from their findings. (Grondin et al. 2020)

The context for these guidelines is that we want the audience to see as much of us as is practical and for us to maintain eye contact as best as possible. We are going to assume that we are giving a presentation that doesn’t require us to have a lot of interaction with the technology. Either we just have to load it up and click through some slides or we have someone else doing that for us.

We can easily deal with all verbal and nonverbal elements by positioning ourselves so that we have our torso and head in shot. However there is one nonverbal, eye contact, which is our biggest challenge. What follows are guidelines for setting up our webcam so that we give the impression we are making eye contact with everyone in the audience. You can click on the link here for the whole article with pictures.

  1. Use a gooseneck webcam mount to position the webcam upside down and inside the monitor frame
  2. Use the application settings to flip the image so you are the right way up.
  3. Sit 130cm away from the camera
  4. Position yourself, either sitting or standing so that you are looking very slightly down at the camera.
  5. Preferably use a headset with a microphone. Relying on the webcam microphone from 130 cm probably wont give the best results.

When I was installing my gooseneck I noticed you can have the camera (logitec C920 in my case) the right up, but it protrudes a long way out, verses having it upside down where it sits closer to the screen.

This will work perfectly when we are communicating one on one. Because in essence we have positioned the camera just above the eyes of the other person. So when we speak we have the comfort of looking at someone not the camera. However because of the position of the camera the other person feels as if we are looking at them straight in the eye.

I think it works well for groups also if the platform we are using allows us to highlight an individual. If it doesn’t then its just a little more challenging because we will be directing our thoughts to the camera only.

Until technology like Microsofts i2i is launched we are going to have to use more practical solutions like the above.

How Not to Choke Under Pressure – Public Speaking

Missfire #1 #2 #3 KaBOOM!

Conquering the fear of public speaking from Scatterbrain by Henning Beck.

The perfect storm of presentation poor performance presents itself when

#1 we focus on every single step making the very thing we don’t want to do top of mind,

#2 worrying so much about non-performance that we forget why we are there and

#3 letting our emotions run riot to the extent we would rather be dead.

And don’t forget we are doing all this under the watchful eye of an audience who are distracting our brains further!

So what can we do?

We need to realise that our brains stress response is doing exactly what we want it do.  It’s just that sometimes we are either pumping too much fuel into the engine or not enough, which results in under performance. It’s this realisation that is important.

The next thing we can do is practice under pressure.  So if we are rehearsing, rehearse without stopping – just keep going, errors included. Think about it, if you are presenting in front of an audience you cant just say “sorry I made a mistake I need to go back to the beginning”

Don’t learn your presentation word for word. If you miss out a phrase or a word you may become distracted and send your presentation into an abyss. Instead break your presentation down into main messages or key phrases and then link them together.  It’s much more interesting for you and your audience.

If your fear is failing in front of an audience, then Henning Beck suggests “you should try to visualise the pressure situation  as intensively as possible before it takes place….You should then play out the various scenarios in your mind in order to break down your fear of them”

One last helpful point Henning makes is not to cover up mistakes. If you lose your way, let the audience know, regain your place by checking your notes and then continue. For example, say “I may have jumped an important point let me just check my notes” or “I’ve gotten off track a bit, let me just see where I am”.

In addressing the fear of public speaking we need not only strategies for developing, designing and delivering our presentation,  just as importantly we need strategies for when our brain misfires!

How Not to Choke Under Pressure #3

Mental misfire #3 “The Over Excitement Trap” from Scatterbrain by Henning Beck.

Most of us have felt this over excitement at some stage of our careers – typically when giving a presentation. Here our autonomic nervous system is getting our body ready for the fight, flight or freeze response and pumping a cocktail of chemicals through our body including adrenaline.

But what causes our body to respond in this way? Henning Beck suggest that it’s the thought of either punishment or reward that contributes to this response. The reward might be winning an account or pitch and interestingly the higher the stakes the higher the error rate. Beck goes on to say “one of the most violent forms of punishment is social rejection.”  People are afraid of what others might say.

There are two things we can do here.

First, realise that this excitement or pressure is a good thing – it’s getting us ready to perform. Hans Selye said “it’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”  Likewise Susan David says in her book Emotional Agility, “We own our emotions, they don’t own us.” So we need to turn the table on this over excitement and realise we can mange it.

However as Beck notes “too little pressure and we perform just as poorly as when the pressure increases tenfold.” So rather than trying to rid ourselves of the excitement all together just pare it back enough so that we are more focused. 

One way we can pare it back is to practice paced breathing. If you don’t already, practice paced breathing everyday and before your event. Paced breathing is simply gently breath in on a count of 4, hold for 4, breath out for 4 and repeat for 5 or 10 minutes.

The effect of this breathing is it will balance the autonomic nervous system, so we can become more focused and alert and less over excited!

How Not to Choke Under Pressure #2

Mental misfire #2 The Distraction Trap from Scatterbrain by Henning Beck.

Whilst a small amount of distraction is important to help engage the subconscious in a step by step process, such as in sport when you are kicking for goal, this doesn’t work so well when we are undertaking complex tasks such as an exam, test or interview.  Here we need all the brains energy to focus on the task at hand and any anxiety we experience robs us of that energy.

Beck suggests we “combat the anxiety directly by simulating the pressure situation in practice, thus growing accustomed to it.”

For example in an interview rehearsal you create the pressure by allowing yourself only one attempt at an answer. The key however, is to make sure you are observed, that you have one or a couple of people play the role of the interviewer. This observation is incredibly distracting and creates the pressure we need in a safe environment.

So going over and over something doesn’t help as much as rehearsing under pressure.

« Older Entries