Five Enemies of Exquisite Presenting

Meeting sepia

When our intention is to provide clarity and impact in our message, what can get in our way?

These five foes:


  1. Anticipation
  2. Distraction
  3. Repetition
  4. Confusion
  5. Competition

How do we combat these adversaries?

1. Anticipation. In your opening remarks, provide all the right kind of information (brief) that will allow the listener to focus on you and your message rather than worry about what is coming.  An example is to let the audience know how much time you will speak, if there is time for questions, will there be breaks, etc.

2. Distraction.  Keeping the visual field clean and removing anything that will take focus away from you and your message. Be conscious of keeping clear and conscious gestures and movement. If you keep focus and attention, your audience will follow suit. Using eye contact with the individuals will aid this.

3. Repetition.  At times, an un-grounded presenter – if not planned, prepared and well-structured, can keep repeating content again and again.

Have a clear objective. Prepare and rehearse. Focus and stay on task.  Say it once, say it well.  (Now this does not mean you can’t reiterate or reincorporate for emphasis or in summary. Reiteration is a great device as long as you are conscious of the fact that you are using it.)

4. Confusion.  Having and stating a clear objective with outcomes, an agenda, using examples and evidence throughout, summarizing and concluding with a call to action and next steps will avoid any confusion in your message, its meaning and your ask. Be organized and stable in your style.  Stick to your game plan.

5. Competition. Avoid competing with your visual aids. If you are using projected visuals, be certain that they are supporting your message – and not being message. It is you who is persuasive – and not a set of slides. Keep the information short and sweet.  Remember that there is to be at least 50% white space on the slide.  Have the attention be on you and not on your slide.

A word on Physical Expression.  Since greater than 85% of any communication’s impact resides in the physical expression, spend as much time preparing to use appropriate vocal tone, volume, facial expressions, gestures and movement.  This what wins people over – when your message is congruent with your physicality.