In general, stillness and quiet are your friends when presenting.
This is counterintuitive – and you can see that it is counterintuitive in presentations given by the less skilled.
They fill every second with breathless speech. They jerk and shuffle with nervous energy.
If you’re going to move, make the movements decisive and big.
If you gesture, do it without any hesitation and do it so the people in the nosebleed seats can understand what you mean.
When you speak, pause to let your audience catch up and process your big ideas.
What is the opposite of stillness, at least when giving presentations?
- Non-words: “ah, um, like” etc. Learn to NOT say these words. Leave silence, at least. Watch any professional presenter – on TV news, for instance – and you won’t hear these words.
- Filling every second with your words: learn to pause, breathe, give yourself time to think and your audience time to digest. Time seems to go more quickly than usual for new presenters – have confidence that a few ticks on the clock can go by without you having to perform, at least if you don’t fill the space with the antics described above.
- Click-click-clicking a pen: don’t have anything in your hands that can make noise. We may not think you’re lying, but we won’t trust you because you are not comfortable.
- Coins/phone/keys/??? in your pocket: fidgeting and jingling whatever might be in your pocket. Empty your pockets before presenting. Don’t make your audience wonder what you’ve got in there.
- The fig leaf: standing with your feet apart and your hands cupped over your private parts. If you have a real problem with feeling naked in front of an audience try to arrange for a lectern – something you can stand behind. The more you present the less you’ll worry.