Jackie Kellso

Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

When Presenting, Think Form and Substance

In business, career, coaching, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, sales, selling, training on September 24, 2009 at 3:21 am

Content is always king, but form is the delivery system for the content. This means that a speaker with a powerful, well-written presentation will fail to inspire, motivate or persuade an audience unless his/her body language, tone of voice and intention to connect (with the audience) are lined up to deliver one clear message.

Assuming that you are an expert of the information you are going to deliver, and that your presentation is well organized, error-free, and concise, there are four steps to delivering good form with substance:

1. Plant your feet as if they are in cement.  Some speakers do the box step to help manage their anxiety without realizing it, and the movement distracts people from hearing the message.  Stay put!

2. Use your arms only to emphasize key points, otherwise leave them dropped and relaxed at your sides.  Do not point your finger(s) at your audience when using your hands. Speakers who do this seem pedantic and less relatable. Use open hands when addressing an audience to show them how approachable you are. (I’ve discovered that arm movement is the hardest comfort zone for presenters to find!  Once they do, people hang onto their words, instead of following their arms!)

3. Smile only when your message calls for it. Use a range of facial expressions that mirrors the emotions of your message.  A smile for the entirety of a talk doesn’t come off as positive; it reads as plastered and fake.

4. Make eye contact for approximately four seconds to audience members in your purview.  Be careful not to look away too quickly or stay for too long.  Audiences will decide if they can trust a speaker within seconds and the right amount of eye contact has a lot to do with the outcome.  Be sure when making eye contact to have an intentional openness about each person in that room. Any judgment or negativity will read through loud and clear.

When I coach my clients on their presentations, the primary goal is delivery impact before focusing on improving the content. My experience has shown me that once people find the form and their own rhythm with it, that the content of the presentation flows more easily.

Happy presenting,


Copyright, Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, 2009-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.