Presentation style

How do you make sure your presentation style is up to the mark?

Man delivering presentation - presentation styleIn the previous posts in this series we looked at the benefits of giving presentations, some of the barriers to doing so, the importance of good preparation and how environment, objective and structure all need to be considered. Now we look at presentation style and the importance of how you behave in front of an audience.

Having thoroughly prepared your presentation it is important that you leave plenty of time to rehearse it, preferably in front of an objective and sympathetic observer to give you helpful feedback.

Clearly speaking your presentation out loud will allow you to become comfortable with your material and discover how well it flows when spoken, as opposed to how it reads on the page.

You may need to make adjustments – for example you might stumble over certain words or combinations of words, or need to clarify their meaning.

When you start to rehearse out loud you will also become aware of your own presentation style. Don’t try to change your natural style or you will come across as false, but be aware that you might unconsciously adopt a repetitive pattern of behaviour while speaking in front of an audience.

During your rehearsal, ask your observer for feedback on your physical presence and behaviour as well as the content of your presentation, so that you can correct anything that might distract the audience from what you are saying!

It’s normal to feel nervous when speaking in front of an audience, but if you take the time to prepare your presentation and rehearse your performance, you’ll hopefully avoid turning into one of these characters when you take the stage!

The Hand Washer – they’re constantly rubbing their hands together.

Hand washer

The Change Jangler – they keep their hands in his pockets and rifle through the contents.

Change Jangler

The Walker – a presenter who is always on the move, back and forth across the stage. While this might convey authority or gravitas, it’s a no-no if your presentation is being recorded and the camera has to keep panning to keep up.

The Walker

The Hair Pusher/Groomer – they repeatedly fiddle with their hair. This can be a sign of nerves, and not only is it distracting for your audience but can also make you look less confident which might detract from your message.

The Hair Pusher/Groomer

The Scratcher – no explanation needed here! Another nervous tick that needs to be ironed out in rehearsals.

The Scratcher

The Tosser – who throws the chalk/pen/ other small item casually into the air. You might think it makes you look casual and confident, but could come across as cocky. And you’ll look silly if you fail to catch.

The Tosser

The Reluctant Nudist – they’re uncomfortable being the centre of attention and protects themselves by standing as “closed up” as possible. Avoid this by keeping your body posture ‘open’ and if you’re using notes, hold them slightly away from your body to convey a relaxed style.

The Reluctant Nudist

The Teapot – who likes to declaim and plants one hand on a hip while the other gesticulates wildly or gently rests on top of a flip chart stand.

The Teapot

You’re not going to catch me with my trousers down – this one pushes his hands deep into his pockets and may develop into a change jangler

catch me with my trousers down

The Table Crawler – who props himself up on the nearest table and crawls towards you whilst making his point.

The Table Crawler

Practice and good feedback will help you to become aware of any irritating habits, so allow yourself plenty of time to rehearse, review and rehearse again so that you can correct any distracting errors and develop a confident presentation style.

If you’re feeling nervous about giving your presentation, remember:


The more you do it the easier it becomes, so make the most of any opportunities to develop and hone your presentation skills.

In the next post in this series we’ll look at things from the perspective of the audience and consider some of the elements that contribute to making a presentation feel useful and powerful to them.

Photo by Teemu Paananen on Unsplash

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