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A few Do's and Do Nots
DO smile. The first and most important 'do'. If you do nothing else, for goodness' sake SMILE. It will help you to relax and it will relax your audience as well.
DO make eye. Eye contact is vitally important. No doubt you have endured many presentations where the speaker gazed steadfastly over all the heads, addressing his or her remarks to the far wall, or worse, the clock, giving everyone the impression that he longed to have it over and done with. Which probably was the case. Other speakers mumble into the floorboards or keep their eyes glued to their notes.
Don't let yourself become one of them. Equally, do not stare at any one member of the audience for so long that they become uncomfortable or embarrassed. The terrifying thought that enters the mind of an audience member whose gaze you have held too long is that you are going to ask them a question. And that means they will become a public speaker. Worse - an impromptu public speaker. This thought is enough to make strong men (and women) faint. Certainly it will take their attention off what you are saying and that is the last thing you want.
DO gesture. Nothing is worse than a static presentation. (Actually, many things are worse than a static presentation but most of them have little or nothing to do with public speaking.) Make your gestures big and broad - they have to be seen and appreciated by those at the back as well as the front row.
DO move around. Static also includes being locked to the lectern or rooted to the spot. But try to make your movements purposeful. Move from lectern to flip chart or white board; from white board towards a questioner and from one section of the audience to another.
DO NOT pace up and down. I promise you, they will begin to count your steps and ignore the message. As mentioned in the last 'DO', by all means move around, a static speaker is a boring speaker. But please, have a reason for moving. Move between your flipchart, lectern and projector. Move towards the member of the audience to whom your current remarks are addressed. But do not move aimlessly.
DO NOT shuffle or 'dance'. Signs of nerves, which almost all of the 'do nots' are, will make your audience nervous and uncomfortable too. Remember that we are all experts, if unconsciously, at reading body language. Your 'signals' will be picked up and interpreted.
DO NOT jiggle keys or coins - something men are very prone to do. If you have something in your pocket that is likely to make a noise - take it out and lay it on a table or hide it in your briefcase.
DO NOT cuddle yourself or stroke your body. Protective gestures (signs of nerves) include just about anything that involves arms or legs crossing the body or each other. Your pose should always be 'open'.
DO NOT tug at or adjust your clothing. Check yourself before standing up to speak, preferably in front of a full-length mirror in the cloakroom seconds before you are called.
DO NOT keep your eyes fixed on your notes or, worse, your visuals (projections, flip charts and so on). We've already mentioned the importance of eye contact. If you have your head down or turned away you cannot make eye contact!