by Colleen Kettenhofen

“If I miss a day of practice, I know it. If I miss two days,
my manager knows it. If I miss three days, my audience knows it.”
Andre Previn
Pianist, conductor, and composer

  1. Stand up when giving your presentation. Even if only two people attend, nonverbally it sends a signal to them that says, “You’re so important, that I’m going to stand even for the two of you.” And according to a University of Minnesota study, if you stand while giving the presentation and use good visual aids (more on that later), your audience is 43% more likely to be persuaded. This same study concluded they’d be willing to pay 26% more for your product or service.1
  2. According to a University of Wisconsin study, learning is improved by up to 200% with good visuals. Studies at Columbia and Harvard found retention is enhanced up to 38%. And according to a Wharton School of Business study, time taken to explain a difficult and complex subject is reduced 25% to 40%.1
  3. Invest in public speaking courses and practice, practice, practice. According to a Lamalle report on executives earning over $250,000 in the 90’s, the main factor in achieving success was effective communication skills and public speaking.1
  4. Use graphs for sales figures or sets of numbers showing a trend over a period of time. Graphs are “pictures” that increase retention and comprehension. Remember, no more than two or three lines on a graph. Use pie charts for market share, budgets, expenses analysis, income sources and the like.
  5. Pay attention to lighting. If you’re going to dim the lights or turn them off during a portion of your presentation, make sure you turn them back up (or on) at least every six minutes. When the lights are dim for too long, the audience’s tendency is to want to fall asleep. Start and end your presentation with the lights fully on. The opener and close are the two parts of your presentation the audience remembers most. You want the focus on you and your presentation.
  6. Podiums and lecturns beware! By “hiding” behind a podium or lecturn you cut out 55% of your nonverbal communication or body language.
  7. Podiums and lecturns act as a barrier between you and your audience. Always stand out in front of a table, podium or lecturn unless showing a visual aid or quickly reviewing your notes.
  8. Use a lavalier mike if you have over 35 or more audience members so you can freely move around. It’s also effective for small groups if you’re competing with high noise levels. In Anchorage, Alaska in 1999, I remember training approximately 25 people. Next door there was a convention going on with people chanting, laughing and singing! Luckily, I’d brought my microphone just in case.
  9. Color increases comprehension 73%. Still, limit your colors on each slide to two or three. Any more is confusing and takes away from your message.
  10. Avoid slides with yellow, pink or orange print. They don’t show up well. Dark blue, black or any other dark color is better. White is ok with a darker background.
  11. When you click a slide on the screen, allow for a few seconds of silence before you speak. It helps the message to sink in. Not to mention when you pause, it adds drama.
  12. Red stands for negatives like “danger” or “warning.” When you have slides or write on a flip chart, only use red to indicate problems, your competition, stopping and the like.
  13. Stand “center stage” when making your most important points. Right in the center of where you’re speaking. It signals nonverbally, “listen up, I’m about to share an important point.”

February 27, 2005

You are free to reprint or repost this article for use in your newsletters, association publications, or intranet provided Colleen Kettenhofen’s contact information (name, website, and email) is included with the article. Colleen Kettenhofen is a Phoenix, Arizona motivational speaker, trainer, & co-author of “The Masters of Success ,” featured on NBC’s Today Show, along with Ken Blanchard and Jack Canfield. For free articles, video clips, and e-newsletter, visit Colleen’s area of expertise are leadership, managing people, life balance, difficult people, presentation skills. Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions and seminars.


She can be reached at contact information listed below:

Colleen Kettenhofen

(971) 212-0479


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