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Five good speaker techniques used by the best in the business

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How do you do a good keynote and make the most of what you are trying to say? We asked one of Denmark’s most experienced speakers. Tommy Krabbe offers five good speaker techniques used by the best in the business.


Natural presentation technique

When doing a presentation it is the culmination of a long process of preparation. But what about the actual presentation techniques when you have been introduced and find yourself on stage? What can you do to help your good intentions along the way?

I practice and preach what I call ‘natural presentation technique’ which will influence my good advice. I do not think it is a good idea if you learn to do a presentation like Steve Jobs, Barack Obama or Oprah Winfrey – I would much prefer you did a presentation which is you. ‘Praesentare’ is Latin for showing something, so after all it does not make a whole lot of sense to show off anything but yourself. So let us get straight to the points; here are my five pieces of advice for you.


1: Good intentions

In order to make people forget about their phone, their hangover headache or the next lunch it is important that you manage to create a feeling of trust right from the start. They must feel you have the best intentions when talking to them. In this respect a sense of humour is your best friend. If you demonstrate to me you want to invest in us having a good time then I want to listen to you. Your best shot is to take off from something that has happened among the guests during the actual day of the event but a funny story showcasing your ability to laugh at yourself might work just as well. You should not focus on the actual laugh itself, of this you can never be sure, what is important is your willingness to go beyond the role of the serious speaker. If you appear to be down to earth and also funny then I believe you have good intentions when addressing me.


2: Be natural

’What do I do with my arms?’ is one of the classic questions regarding presentation technique. Sure you can Google away and read about just what to do with your hands, your nose or toes but my best piece of advice is to forget about all that. Just focus on talking about something which is important to you and now is your chance to share your knowledge, passion or interest with other people. Let your inner fire shine. Your hands, nose and toes will follow, don’t worry. And if you are not the type to jump around energetically on stage but keep more still then that is what you should do. If you are speaking to many people the same rules apply – except you might have to exaggerate a little. You do not need to think an awful lot about that either; just add a little extra energy to what you already do.


3: Variation is good for attention

Direct speech is a wonderful means of expression which is why it is a good idea to use its full potential. Unlike written language with its many rules, spoken language can be more free. And it needs to be if people are to keep listening to you. Monotonous gets boring so you need to break the monotony. You can do this by adding variation, going between high and low, fast and slow, move left or right or to the back of the room. You can sit down or stand on a table or you can use your hands a lot or very little. Again it is important that you do things that feel natural to you but a sense of variation actually is quite natural. Most people will feel it is both awkward and unnatural to stand totally still and speak in the same manner. Variation makes for increased attention during transitions from one part to another. So if you are speaking fast and moving a lot you might try to suddenly stop and speak more slowly when you reach an important point. That will make your presentation fly.


4: Get going and find your anchor

It is quite wonderful when reactions from the audience, nods, laughter and the like show you that what you are doing seems to be working. But do not allow yourself to get hooked on it. What you are doing might be truly fantastic even if people are just sitting quietly, a few yawns here and there even. The problem is when you start doubting what you do or even panic. There can be many reasons why people are not necessarily listening actively all the time and if you start believing you are to blame this can lead to a downward spiral. Just get going and carry on with your presentation. Use an anchor or two. An anchor is a guest who is good at showing they listen to you. And there is always someone. They can make you feel calm and encourage you to carry on and forget about feeling nervous. You feel secure when addressing them. So remember where they sit and look at them now and then if you should feel a sense of doubt. After a few seconds you will feel fine again and can look at the others as well.


5: Rounding off

Most people prepare thoroughly for their introduction which of course is important. But you can achieve an extra strong effect if you also know how to end your presentation. I remember an interview with flautist Michala Petri where she said the most important note in a concert is the last one. It should contain all of the concert and send off the audience well. Many people will tell you to always finish on a laugh but it can actually be a lot stronger to finish on a poignant note with full intensity and clarity of message. It all comes down to what your presentation is about, of course. The last words should sum it all up.

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