Top Tips: for your soft skills

Audiences expect presenters to appear open, interested, and engaged. Simply reading from a script with crossed arms and mumbling will fail to captivate them – they might tune out within minutes. Losing their attention means they won’t absorb your message, reducing the likelihood of them taking action based on your presentation. These essential soft skills for presentations cover various areas, offering valuable insights into optimizing delivery and enhancing performance.


Hand Gestures:
Using your hands to help accentuate points, engage the audience and look inclusive will make you look more interesting and can help win over the listeners. You don’t need to wave your arms around wildly, but using hands to back-up what you are saying can be very useful non-verbal support for your content.

Eye Contact:
If a presenter doesn’t look at you, it’s hard to feel included and you certainly won’t feel they are trying to connect directly with you. Making frequent and regular eye contact, even if you are presenting to a large group will make a big difference to the attention each audience member gives you.

Pushing your shoulders back and holding your head high is a confident pose, it will help the audience trust your message a little more and will give you a boost too – this is great to do, especially if you are feeling some nerves. Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on some of the research and science around body-language, and how you can; ‘fake it, till you make it’

While it may seem basic, your demeanor on stage significantly impacts how the audience perceives you. If you appear cold or unhappy, chances are the audience will mirror those sentiments. A genuine smile not only boosts your confidence but also fosters a connection with the audience. Even when discussing serious topics, incorporating occasional smiles can help establish rapport, though it’s essential to exercise discretion, especially during discussions about crises or negative news.

Listening to a presenter with a monotone, same tempo, same volume voice is an easy way to drift off to sleep. You have to accentuate and vary your delivery to keep the listeners engaged. The areas to think about are:
• Pitch; keep away from a monotone and vary your pitch when you can, even slight variations help to engage the listener
• Volume; aside from just making sure you speak loudly enough to be heard, you can also use volume to really hit home the important points
• Speed; talking too fast is a sure way of losing the audience, they need time to consider and digest what you say, if you talk too fast they will miss crucial parts. Use pauses before or after main messages and if you are communicating a complicated idea or list of facts, make sure you slow right down to give the listener time for them to sink-in

Sitting down:
It’s often easier/better to present standing up, but in very small groups or a meeting this isn’t always appropriate. Even if you are sitting down, it’s still important to think about your body-language:
• Place your feet firmly on the floor to ‘ground’ you and stop you shifting about
• Sit upright and right back into the seat of the chair so you have a solid stance
• Don’t cross your arms; it can make you look nervous, bored and defensive
• Keep your hands on the table in front of you and use hand gestures to back-up what you say


Mastering soft skills involves considering numerous elements, and it’s natural for some individuals to find it more challenging than others. Seeking feedback on your presentations or recording yourself can provide valuable insights into areas for improvement. Instead of overwhelming yourself, focus on incorporating one element at a time. Keep in mind that even small adjustments can lead to significant enhancements in your presentation skills over time.

To find out more about the Bluewood presentation training courses, please get in touch.


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