How to prepare for Presentations or Speeches

It seems that a number of my coachees are getting involved with presenting on topics at the moment. This is relevant whether it be a business presentation, best man speech or a funeral eulogy (my most difficult ever presentation). Presenting seems to be people’s greatest fear, sometimes even more than dying, which is a bit extreme!

I know when I was in the corporate world, presenting to a large group of people was one of my greatest fears and I tried numerous ways of trying to present in the best possible way. I thought it might help to jot down my tips for presenting which might give you some ideas for when you need to present or make a speech.


  • Who is your audience?
  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • Keep it simple, short and snappy
  • Write down and highlight key words
  • What visuals are you going to use? (beware of death by PowerPoint)
  • How will you get your prompts whilst appearing natural?
  • Practice – practice – practice

Feedback – Once you are comfortable with your presentation leave it, don’t overdo it.

Presentation Structure

  • Opening – Purpose (what I am I here for?)
  • Hook – Why should they listen?
  • Map – What are you going to talk about?
  • Body – Inform/clarify/prove/relate/emphasise
  • Summary – Key points/conclusions/strong finish

Feedback – I always failed to finish strongly as I got to the end because I was dying to sit down – big mistake!

For you to be in the right State

  • Check out the venue and get a feel for the stage
  • Positioning oneself so you can move freely, see your cues and the audience can see the presentation
  • Eliminate barriers to your audience such as lecterns
  • Anchor your thoughts (Clinton used to say he was the best public speaker in the world 3 times before standing up)
  • Take deep breaths from the diaphragm before and during the presentation – slow down
  • Use pauses and always have a glass of water nearby to regather your thoughts or voice.

Feedback – If you get your state right, you are halfway there for making a good presentation.

The Presentation or Speech

  • Be yourself, show empathy and use humour in the right places
  • Stories or case studies are good, particularly if you are brave enough to start it and leave the ending for later
  • Stand up straight and square on
  • Use plenty of eye contact, scan the whole group, use periphery vision
  • Voice – keep your head up and be clear and audible
  • Keep your pace much slower than normal conversation speed, pause for effect and emphasis (count of five!)
  • “Less is more” one slide or visual per 3 minutes, key words for your prompts
  • Have you achieved your objective?
  • What are the key messages your audience has taken away from your presentation or speech.

Feedback I used to beat myself up at the end of a presentation if I had missed things out. On reflection this was rather stupid of me as the audience didn’t know I had missed anything out. The key was had they taken away with them the 2 or 3 main messages of the presentation.

I am finding as part of my career coaching, more interviewees are having to make presentations as part of the interview process. Under my leadership coaching, presentations to the Board or customers are a normal part of the job. In addition, as part of business mentoring, smaller business owners need to spread their wings and get in front of their customers. If you fit any of these categories and want to spend time with me practicing your presentations, please get in touch with

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