Chris Croft
Tips of the Month Archive

Presentation Skills Tip 2


Overcoming nerves

Microsleeps and what you can do about them

Making your presentation interactive

Adjusting your timing

Powerpoint pros and cons

Making your talk interactive

Powerpoint what could go wrong?

Powerpoint advanced tips


Your opening minute

How to remember your talk


Most people can only concentrate really well for the first 8 minutes, and after that the number of "microsleeps" start to increase.

Microsleeps happen because we can think faster than people can talk, so we have time to think in between, and then on top of, the words.

Initially we are evaluating the statements, but our evaluation starts to overlap the next part of the message. Then we start to drift off into related subjects, ending up on lunch or what the speaker looks like naked. (More of the former as you get older)

What can you do, as a speaker, about people drifting off?

First, reduce the likelihood of microsleeps by keeping the speaking short, with plenty of breaks and activities. Make the talk interactive, ask questions. Keep good eye contact with everyone in turn. Pause occasionally (do you remember at school, when you suddenly realise the teacher has stopped talking, and everyone's looking at you?)

Second, make it easy for them to get back on track if they do have a microsleep - have a clear agenda, with a clear logical flow, use visual aids so they can see which bit you're pointing at, and mention where you're at ("OK, so that was part 1, now on to part 2..."), and repeat the main points so that at least they'll probably hear one of the times you say it.

Don't be depressed by the fact that they won't hear and remember 100% of your message - it's normal. Design your talk with built-in redundancy, a bit like aeroplane wiring systems - if bits of it don't get the message across the overall job still gets done. If there's a key failure point that they have to get, they'll be sure to miss that bit!

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