You’ve seen the headline news stories. Hollywood Director Michael Bay Suddenly Stops During Press Conference and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer Says, “No Comment.”

As viewers, we feel the awkward tension when the teleprompter fails and Michael Bay isn’t prepared to speak, and we know what Sen. Schumer is thinking when he says, “No comment.”

As communicators, we need to ensure that public appearances for our organizations are planned, practiced and delivered with skill. These straightforward do’s and don’ts will set the tone of your presentation — because practice and preparation are crucial.

DO

BODY LANGUAGE: Throughout your presentation, it’s okay to use natural hand gestures, move around the podium or point to supporting slides. Remember to make eye contact with the audience, maintain good posture and use positive facial expressions.

SPEECH: Speak slowly, and enunciate your words. A natural inflection in your voice will communicate sincerity to your audience. Read through your notes out loud, then video yourself giving the presentation. While it may seem like an uncomfortable exercise at first, it will allow you to correct any awkward habits.

PRESENTATION CONTENT: Use photos and videos to better illustrate your message. Keep slide content, especially written content, minimal to allow your audience to easily follow your key points. It’s a good idea to bring your presentation in several formats such as on a USB drive, in an accessible email account and stored on your computer

RESPONDING TO QUESTIONS: When someone asks a question, remember to speak in sound bites. This allows your thoughts to easily and accurately be used within an article. Learn to deflect negative questions with positive answers that direct the conversation back to your key message.

DON’T

BODY LANGUAGE: Don’t hide behind the podium or use negative or closed gestures such as folded arms, bad posture or a blank facial expression.

SPEECH: Don’t talk too fast — your audience won’t retain the message. Additionally, reading word-for-word from your notes (or slides) will lose the attention of your audience and make you appear unprepared.

PRESENTATION CONTENT: Don’t select distracting or illegible fonts and colors for presentation slides. If your content is technical, avoid the use of acronyms if you don’t have time for an explanation. Most importantly, don’t solely rely on technology it often fails.

RESPONDING TO QUESTIONS: Don’t speak “off the record” — the audience could be recording your presentation. In fact, always assume someone is recording your presentation. If asked a tough question, avoid using the phrase, “no comment.” This two-word excuse is typically associated with guilt, which can be avoided by replacing with the better phrase, “I don’t know, but I will look into that.”

Using these straightforward tactics will enhance your confidence and credibility while positioning yourself and your company as industry thought leaders.


Let us help you plan your 2014 press conferences and speaking engagements. Call 281-448-3435 to schedule a meeting with Foster Marketing to discuss how we can help prepare your employees and executives for upcoming presentations.

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