Speaking With Purpose | Kick-ass Presenting

A presentation on presenting like a pro (or something like that).

Today I delivered an intimate public speaking seminar through Chalkle : Six Degrees Of Education.

My foundation came via this Top Ten Speaking Tips blog post written a couple of years ago (which still holds up today).

Was a great experience to not only share some of the insights gained over my short speaking career, but as ever, deconstructing something you do with the purpose of sharing that knowledge, enriches your learning so much more.

Other things discussed:

  • Compfight—clean image search with creative commons options (my preference over the Flickr Attribution directory, although they do pretty much the same job)
  • Salling Clicker—what I use to control my presentations (ensures stable connection, timing options, non-touchscreen so no accidental ‘clicks’ plus haven’t failed me in 6/7 years)
  • transitions—less is more. Advice extended to presenting software like Prezi which can be overused at times when a simple dissolve would be far more effective

…there were many more.

The attendees also had the opportunity to present for a couple of minutes and together we positively critiqued their work.

So what do you think on the advice shared above? Do you have any tips / tricks to share? Do you disagree? Dare you to leave a comment… go on, double dare ya!

YouTube Version
Image Credits: Animal, Woodrow, Guru, Wayne’s World, Talk, Practice, Don’t, No, Control, Look, Attention, Scary, Gospel, Questions, Next


  1. Thanks for putting this together. Would have been great to hear you live but this is a great second best.

    I find now that when I talk to larger groups I sort of get in the flow from the energy of the situation. The first time I do a presentation is always the best cos, as you say, its the most prepared and fresh that it is likely to be.

    Finding just the right image to show your point is hard. Now I tend to save images that I am likely to want to use again so I have a bit of a bank of them.

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together.


    1. Thanks for your comment AK – the flow is the best state to be in and I’m always gutted to leave the stage as it always feel like time has flown by :-)

      And yeh, saving up images which work really is a great approach – there’s a notebook in Evernote which houses some yet-to-be-used images… one day ;-)

  2. Hi – just wanted to say thanks so much for sharing this. I wanted to get to the session, but timing wasn’t on my side.

    I get called on to present more than I’d like to in professional contexts, and I fall into the camp of ‘don’t enjoy it’ – but not doing it is often not an option.

    With that in mind, I think – or hope – that there’s more to be gained than just ‘not doing it’ (or not getting onto the stage) if you don’t enjoy it.

    I’ve been inspired to do better by talks by you that I’ve been an audience for, and I’m really grateful for these tips. I’d never consciously drawn the link between TED talks and audience expectations – so that’s very interesting as well.

    For me, the main struggle is learning how to – as Audre Lorde put it – ‘loosen up and not be lost’ on the stage. I hold onto a script/podium for dear life because I’m really fearful that I’ll forget what I have to say (especially if it’s still coming together at the last minute).

    {Fretful mind flashes to bright lights, large crowd, terrible silence, and a single unforgiving word on a slide like “Excellence” that gives no clues}

    As the shyest kid in the school yard, overcoming this stuff is not easy.

    So I’m interested in whether you have tips on how to remind yourself mid-flow what it was you wanted to say (esp if it’s a talk you’re giving for the first time). Having never used cue cards, what do you usually have on them – single words, or sentences etc? What works best for keeping that energy, but not losing the memory of what you need to communicate?

    If you don’t practice, how do you know you’ll remember?

    I’ve tried going note-less once, for a really short presentation (at a meeting with Peter Jackson of all people) – and I draw on that whenever I think ‘yes, this time I’ll not write down word-for-word what I want to say’, because I know my energy level was higher and my genuine belief in what I was talking about came through.

    But doing that for a long, say 20 minute, presentation in front of a large audience seems really daunting. To learn, you often have to fail a few times first – and I’m not sure I’m brave enough for a ‘spectacular failure’ ;)

    1. Well thanks for taking the time to check it out and for leaving such a great comment, truly appreciated.

      re: cue cards – the word and image is usually enough to jolt the memory into the story I’m telling. Failing that, the clicker I use is an old mobile phone which actually can be used as a digital cue cards (pulling the slide notes from the presentation and displaying on the screen), although I very rarely look at it as usually I’m having too much fun. On the rare occasion it’s usually to do with a figure or date which needs to be slotted in to help make the point. This model can just be transferred to physical cue cards. A couple of words is again usually all it takes to start the storytelling process.

      It is very tough to fail on stage and got to admit, have done a couple of times in the past where I’ve forgotten the point I’m trying to make – on one occasion I jazzed around it and moved on quickly, giving a lot of energy on the next slide to motor my way home, and the second occasion I literally said I can’t remember what the point of that slide is… the latter worked better, was more human, plus later on I remembered the point and went back around much to the amusement of the audience.

      Therefore, you don’t need bravery but confidence and trust in your ability to be honest about your limitations.

      And one last point: you can practice your presentation but know you can’t practice public speaking (unless you hire strangers to sit in a room with you as you present a couple of times). Just go out there, know your sh*t and have fun!

      1. Good advice re practising. I have tried practising in front of friends before a gig. You just feel silly. The energy of speaking with a larger group just isn’t there. ANd you don’t get a lot of venue ambience when speaking in someone’s lounge.

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