March 25, 2013

Rhetoric Skills: How to Speak and Present Effectively

In our daily life we commonly talk without giving the form of our speech a lot of thought. But as soon as we have to deliver a presentation, we frantically start searching for the right words. The following tips will help you become a better speaker!

Rhetoric – an oratory technique that convinces

When speaking in front of a larger group of people on a regular basis (for example in a business context) you need to know your ways with rhetoric. Since the antics the ‘art of speaking’ has been held in high regards and has not lost its significance even today. Particularly since the person who delivers the speech carries a lot of responsibility. The essential point is to convince and – in the best case – inspire the audience. Politicians and PR-experts master their rhetoric perfectly. But in order to master the art of speech and inspire the audience, even the experts have to obey certain rules. Simply speaking without thinking or carefully choosing your words beforehand can be a fatal mistake ruining your entire presentation.

Misconducts do happen nearly every day. At times the PowerPoint slides are overcharged or the presentation does, because of the monotonously way of speaking, not progress. You certainly found yourself at the point to doze off because the presentation did not address you, even though the topic seemed auspicious to you.

Know the requirements of the audience

To prevent the presentation of becoming a disaster, you should inform yourself prior to your presentation about the location. A small meeting room broadcasts a different atmosphere in comparison to an auditorium. The location not only imposes on the vocal representation but also on your attitude. Business is business, regardless of the location. Always be conscious of posture and expression. Nothing is more embarrassing than a superior who is in doubt of your respectability.

It is also important to inform yourself about your audience. Try to get more information about the people sitting in front of you. For example, if you are speaking in front of superiors who are on a tight schedule, don’t waste their time. Only be humorous if the situation permits it. With all appreciable information you can build a strategy for the speech. You can decide whether to present a little bit more personal, entertaining or if you should keep it strictly business.

Elocution- at the heart of presentations

Let us start from the beginning: If you would like to improve your presentation, make sure to use short and comprehensive sentences. Since our brain focuses on the core of a statement while we are listening, our receptiveness recedes tremendously when long sentences are used. It is like reading: We usually need to read sentences that exceed five lines several times before we fully understand them. This is of course not an option when listening to a speech.

Avoid using too many loanwords. While it may sound sophisticated, it means that your listeners will lose attention faster. The average attention span lasts only 20 minutes. We recommend you adjust the length of your presentation to this time frame (unless you have been explicitly asked to deliver a longer presentation.)

Avoid sticking to your notes too much and talk freely.  Mention the most important points at the beginning of a sentence and emphasize them (“3.5 million euros have been generated this year.”)

Naturally, you should keep eye-contact with your audience during your speech and illustrate your presentation with substantial graphics. We detect most information with our eyes. Therefore, take the time to design a descriptive presentation, if possible using PowerPoint. If are unsure how to design your presentation, find the slides you need on Our online shop offers a great variety of backgrounds, templates, charts, diagrams, maps and PowerPoint animations.

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