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10 Tips for Improving Your Keynote Presentation Skills

Are you looking to improve your keynote presentation skills? Of course, you are; well, look no further! Here are ten Speakery tips to help you deliver engaging, effective keynote presentations:

01 Start with a strong, clear thesis statement.

This will set the direction and focus of your presentation and help keep you on track. Starting with a strong message will grab the audience's attention. Avoid starting your talk by introducing yourself; the stage host or event moderator has probably already done this, so just get cracking we a nice bold statement. I once helped a food activist with his TEDx talk. It was about eating meat. He started his talk by saying, "I. LOVE. MEAT". That got people's attention.

02 Be Visual and be bold.

Visuals can help reinforce your key points and make your presentation more interesting and memorable for your audience. This was true before the pandemic, but it's even more so after three years of boring ZOOM and MS TEAMS calls. ZOOM fatigue is real, and audiences experience it at home, in meeting rooms, and at conferences. Your presentation must combine fantastic imagery, bold statements, audio cues, and video elements with a solid storyline to keep the audience engaged. Be careful not to use the same kind of imagery as everybody else. Try and develop your own unique look.

03 For heaven's sake, practise!

The more you practice, the more confident and polished you will be when delivering your presentation. Practice and preparation are the foundation of The Speakery Method, and I can show you how to practise properly if you hire me. If you're not interested in practising, we probably won't work together. 

04 Engage your audience.

Sure, asking questions, inviting participation, and encouraging discussion to keep your audience interested and engaged is a tried and tested strategy. Still, as audiences become more sophisticated, you need to develop a more savvy set of engagement tools. Start seeding engagement during the presentation and work towards a full and lively Q&A session. This is a new skill and tricky to pull off without planning and practising, but it's fantastic when it works.

05 Be prepared for the unexpected.

Have a backup plan if something goes wrong, such as technical difficulties or a sudden schedule change. Things happen. Have a plan for when they do. And once you have a backup plan - practise it. Have backup tech with you too. Have your own clicker  (I take two clickers with me), have your presentation files on a stick and upload them to WeTransfer or DropBox. I've had so many things going wrong that my backup plans and checklists are detailed and nearly fail-proof. Book me, and I'll share it with you. 

06 Speak like a human.

I'm an artist. The art world likes to use complicated language that's deliberately obtuse. It's nonsense, non-inclusive, and, truth be told, it's bullshit. Talk like a human. Use real-people words. That doesn't mean you have to dumb down. It just means that people will be able to understand you.  Avoid using jargon or technical language that your audience may not understand. Avoid abbreviations. Instead, speak in a natural, conversational tone to make your presentation more relatable and accessible. There are ways to write a script that doesn't sound like a PR person wrote it. I can show you how.

07 Start as close to the end as possible.

This is a writing trick from my favourite storytelling expert, the American author Kurt Vonnegut. Your presentation shouldn't be as long as War and Peace. Narrative arcs in presentations are a thing of the past. Keep your presentation concise. Avoid going off on tangents or providing too much detail. Instead, focus on the key points you want to make, ensure your presentation stays on track, and reach the end as quickly as possible. Your audience will thank you for it. 

08 Use Picture Words.

Tell stories with pictures, word pictures. When presenting something like "security" for example, use words like locks, castles, safe-crackers or alarms. People are more likely to remember stories and pictures than lists of facts and figures. Use stories and examples to illustrate your points, make your presentation more memorable, and tell a story they'll want to tell their friends, peers, colleagues and customers.  

09 Find the performance version of you.

Be yourself and let your personality shine through in your presentation. Don't try and copy other keynote speakers; try and discover the authentic expert speaker that is slumbering inside of you. That doesn't mean you can't learn from others; in fact, you should actively watch and learn from other great speakers - steal what works! But never lose sight of who you are. Being authentic will help you connect with your audience and make your presentation more engaging and help with any niggling imposter-syndrome angst that you may have. You're not in competition with anyone else but yourself. 

10 Have an ending.

Many speakers forget this, don't practise it or never get to the end because they run out of time (poor preparation!). You need to finish with a strong conclusion. Summarize your key points and leave your audience with a lasting impression. This will not only help reinforce the main takeaways from your presentation and ensure that your message is remembered but will also make the transition to the Q&A much easier. 

the speakery presentation canvas

Die Speakery Präsentations CanvasWhether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out in the world of public speaking, the Speakery Presentation Canvas can help you take your skills to the next level.