Advance Performance | Five Simple Tips to Presenting Brilliantly by Heather Wright
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Five Simple Tips to Presenting Brilliantly by Heather Wright

Five Simple Tips to Presenting Brilliantly by Heather Wright

One of the questions I am asked constantly is “How do you do it?” For some people, this is facing their biggest fear and their most difficult goal – speaking in public.


Heather2To be fair, I have been delivering speeches since I was at school.  It started with the Schools National Speaking Competitions and I went on to perform in the theatre.  So, I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t used to standing up delivering something.  It also helps that in the custom of the Martial Arts world,  after achieving my Black Belt I was expected to help the instructors by teaching the junior grades and leading the warm up at the beginning of the class.

All of this often teaches confidence and gets one used to being stared at by groups of people.  However, that does not make a great speaker.  There are many people who are confident enough to stand up, and in fact, volunteer at every opportunity …but they can’t hold an audience.

I have been teaching presentation skills for a while now and usually people’s main worry is about not having a dynamic personality.   However, if you watch the TED Talks you will see they have thousands of talks recorded by people who would not be classed as “personalities” and yet their talks are brilliant.

The key to a great speech is STRUCTURE – the great news is that anyone can learn it.  Once we get the hang of structure then even shy people can become excited about the potential of their session.  Here are 5 simple steps to getting the structure right.

Step One – Know your purpose and stick to it
If your purpose is to give information – then ask why? What will the people listening do with that information?  Don’t give them information that doesn’t add to that purpose.  If your purpose is to sell – then what do they really need to know in order to buy (the idea, product, change in behaviour?)

Step Two – Write down everything you could potentially include
A mind map is one of the best ways to do this. Tony Buzan’s website has a very useful free programme if you need practice or inspiration.  Don’t try to do it in a linear way from start to finish, that bit will come later.

Step Three – Look for themes or a pattern 
Find two or three main points/areas.  For example the theme: “My life in Plant Growing” –  a) Germination – my first interest  b) Seedlings – learning from my grandfather and c) Harvest – becoming a farmer.

The simplest themes in business are Why, What and How – a) Why are we talking about this? b) What exactly are we talking about? and c) How are we going to change and implementthis?  As you check through your speech, make sure each point refers directly to the theme and purpose and delete any superfluous points.

Step Four – The start and the finish
Work out what your opening line is going to be to grab the attention of the people in the room, then practise saying it with confidence.  “Today I am going to talk to you about …..” is the simplest, but I much prefer something that makes people think  “Have you ever thought what the world would be like without…?“   Then decide your finishing line, there is nothing worse than reaching the end and running out of steam.  Even a simple “and that, ladies and gentlemen is how slugs can play the piano – thank you.”  My favourite way is to call people to action “so my question to you today is … what would you have done if you’d been in my shoes ?” and exit stage left.

Step Five – Make it ‘sticky’
Now you have the beginning, end and main points, you can work through each point and find a way to engage your audience’s brains.  Stories, questions, startling revelations, pictures –  there is always a way.   Be creative, after all there is no point in wasting even five minutes of your time if no one is going to remember it!

If you would like to develop your Presentation Skills in a supportive and inspiring environment, we have a Presenting With Confidence course.  Please book your place by contacting Martin Wright on 01772 813969 or email him at