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10 Cues for Making Effective Presentations

by Public Relations Staff

October 26, 2004 -- As a psychologist, getting involved with public speaking can raise your visibility, expand your referral network, and provide valuable information to your audience. The opportunities may vary from addressing professional conferences, business groups or other meetings to presenting material from the APA public education campaign (accessed through APA Practice ) at local schools or community workshops.

Speaking on topics that reflect your expertise gives you a chance to further the profession. In some communities, your presentation may be the only chance an audience has to experience the value of psychology.

Whether you thrive on the attention that can come with public speaking, or you dread it, here are some tips to help you speak like a pro:

1. Prepare - As soon as you agree to speak, start preparing by asking some basic questions about the presentation.

How many people are expected? Your style will vary if you’re speaking to a small room versus an auditorium full of people.

Who is the audience? If the audience includes children, for example, your style will be different than if you’re speaking to corporate CEOs.

Have the media been invited? You don’t want to get thrown by their presence or by camera lights.

How long are you expected to speak? Will there be a question-and-answer session at the end of your talk?

Who else is on the program? For example, will there be a panelist who is likely to be hostile to your point of view?

What is the room setup? Will you be part of a panel at a head table? Will you stand behind a podium? Will you be up on a stage?

What audio-visual capabilities are available? If you’re using slides, can you advance them on your own or will you need someone to assist you? One speaker was chagrined to arrive at a speaking engagement and find that the room was set up for overhead transparencies, rendering her colorful PowerPoint presentation useless.

2. Know Your Audience - In developing your presentation, try to anticipate what information is relevant and important to your audience. For example, if you are speaking about resilience in a military community, consider tailoring your message to include information about resilience among military families. If addressing a group of corporate executives, talking about organizational performance issues such as employee productivity and health care costs can help you connect with your audience.

3. Use Appropriate Visual Aids - Because some people learn visually, it helps to supplement your talk with visuals such as a PowerPoint presentation or transparencies . However, when you use visual aids, remember that less is more. Slides should illustrate your talk, not serve as a script that you read from. For large groups, avoid text-heavy slides that can be difficult to read. Also, remember to use a sufficiently large font size so those in the back of the room can read the wording in your slides.

Even when it’s not possible to use technology, there’s a crucial visual that can strengthen your talk: yourself. Before you even begin to speak, the primary “visual” for your audience is how you present yourself. Your manner of dress can enhance or detract from your message. Dress professionally and avoid wardrobe traps such as dangly jewelry for women and loud novelty ties for men. Such accessories can visually strip a speaker of his or her credibility.

4. Make It Tangible - Whatever you’re talking about, use examples that make the subject real for your audience. One psychologist used bouncy rubber balls to help children understand the concept of resilience. Another good technique is to use anecdotes that help illustrate a point. People love being told a story. In doing so, however, use extreme caution: avoid relating anything that may permit personal identification of clients or that may otherwise violate patient confidentiality.

5. Avoid Setting Traps for Yourself - Most of your audiences will want to like you and your message. After all, they’ve made the effort to come hear what you have to say. You can help by avoiding public speaking traps that lose your audience’s sympathy quickly:

Avoid jargon unless you’re speaking to a group of professionals who all understand the same technical language.

Both a monotone and a sing-song tone can lull your audience to sleep rather than engage them. It helps to vary the pace of your remarks and the inflection of your voice.

Avoid physical traps that can distract the audience from what you’re trying to say. Keep your hands out of your pockets. One speaker who wore a microphone inadvertently entertained his audience by jingling his pocket change.

If you’re seated, sit slightly forward and plant your feet on the ground. One bad habit that looks even worse if there’s a camera present is the chair swing: the unconscious rocking or swaying in a wheeled chair. For an audience, it can cause visual seasickness.

Speakers who stand should avoid locking their knees, which can cause fainting. When using notes, be sure to avoid shuffling papers, especially if you’re wearing a microphone.

6. Interact - Audiences want to be talked to, not talked at. Here are some techniques you can use to engage your audience:

If you’re at a podium, come out from behind it so that you’re closer to the crowd. If the group is small, make eye contact with as many people as possible, especially those who are nodding and giving you positive visual feedback. For a larger group, mentally divide the room into sections and make sure you look at each section -- front, right side, left side, back.

If the crowd contains friends or acquaintances, use their names if appropriate. For example, “If you’re a teacher like my friend Stacey, you’ve probably seen the effects of bullying on students…”.

Besides engaging your audience, eye contact allows you to make necessary adjustments to your presentation. If people are looking restless, for example, you can shorten your talk, change the tempo, and/or emphasize points that seem particularly interesting to the audience in order to recapture their attention.

7. Watch the Clock - It’s always a good trick to bring a watch with a large face and place it on the podium next to your notes so that you can keep an eye on the time. If nerves have you racing through your talk and you see that you have too much time left, take a deep breath and slow down. If you find that your talk is taking longer than the time allotted, hit the highlights of your remaining text.

8. Anticipate Questions - Your host may determine whether there will be a question-and-answer period following your speech. If the choice is yours, you’ll want to factor in whether you are comfortable enough with your subject matter to answer questions.

If you choose to accept questions from the audience, be prepared to think on your feet. Prepare yourself by thinking in advance of the questions you hope they don’t ask, and plan possible answers. If you have a friend or colleague who knows the issue you’re speaking about, ask that person to identify some difficult questions so that you can prepare to answer them smoothly.

Keep your answers short and friendly. Don’t be afraid to say that you do not know something, but in doing so, either offer to find the information and follow up with the individual or refer that person to another reputable source.

Use any question-and-answer period as an opportunity to see if there are subjects you should include in future presentations.

9. Practice Your Presentation - You don’t want to sound like an automaton, so don’t memorize your speech. But you do want to practice enough that you know how long your presentation will last and to get a feel for the “flow” of your talk. If you are using visual aids such as PowerPoint, practice your presentation both with and without the aid so that you aren’t rattled if you encounter a technical glitch.

10. Breathe and Sip - Before you start to speak, take a deep breath and try to relax. It will help you focus and it will lower the pitch of your voice.

Be sure to have some water close at hand (but not cold water since it can constrict your throat) in case your throat dries up. Water also can be an effective prop: if you get a difficult question, taking a sip of water gives you a moment to collect your thoughts quickly before responding.

Remember, if you’re well-prepared and comfortable, there’s a good chance your audience will be comfortable with your presentation as well.

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Presentations: Cues

TeacherVision Staff

Some students require help staying focused and on task. Cues are concrete reminders to do something or attend to something. Two of the most commonly used cues are:

Before marking anything, it is a good idea to identify any special considerations. Forexample, if the answer form is computer readable, any stray markings may interferewith scoring. In such cases, the teacher may need to transfer the student's answers toanother form, an accommodation that may require additional sign-offs or specificprocedures.

In addition, keep in mind that this accommodation may be perceived as giving thestudent the answer. To avoid inadvertently selecting cues that coach the student,have another adult review them prior to sharing with the student.

Excerpted from Assessment Accommodations Toolkit .

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People Smarts for Smart People


17 body language presentation cues to use in your next speech.

I used to shake, stutter, and simmer during presentations. Now, I confidently own my speeches. Here are my top 17 body language tips for any presentation.

Table of Contents

My presentation fail, signal “friend”, give the eyebrow flash, use a genuine smile, take up space, raise your hand, read between the eyes, laugh it off, forward lean, use hand gestures, keep cool as a cucumber, hide your notes, color psychology, news reporter vs. preacher, presentation body language mini-faq:, how much of a presentation depends on your body language, why is body language important in presentation, bonus: give captivating presentations.

Some people may go into a presentation like they’re going into battle.

I was one of those people. But after years of public-speaking experience, dozens of experiments, and hundreds of talks, I can finally say I’ve conquered my presentation fears. And now I want to teach my tactics to you!

Vanessa Van Edwards Research Lab

Can You Read Body Language? (Quiz)

How good are your body language skills? Take our free body language quiz to find out!

Here is my ultimate guide on what body language to use to give the most captivating presentations . In this guide, you will learn:

I have been fortunate enough to speak to hundreds of companies , from Google to Intel to Frito-Lay. I’ve also been lucky enough to speak on stages at SxSW, at MIT, and the World Domination summit .

But all of those successes were hard earned. And I started out knowing nothing…

↑ Table of Contents ↑

OK, I have a really embarrassing story to admit.

Back in fifth grade, I wasn’t just bad at giving presentations. I was a train wreck : my legs shook, my palms sweated, and I had this really bad condition where my face would just dye itself red from embarrassment.

Young Vanessa trying to hide from her awkwardness holding flowers in front of her eyes

Fast forward to the most important presentation of the year: I spent an entire month preparing (and even working after school!) for this fleshed-out speech on Columbus’s journey to America. It was full of amazing, captivating content… but unfortunately lacking in delivery.

On the big day, I couldn’t help but feel the sea of stares burning deep into me.

My face reddened like a beet, and I did the only thing my logical brain told me to do… I made a run for it. I literally stopped 5 minutes into my presentation, ran out the door, and hid in the nearest bathroom stall.

That day scarred me forever. I remember wiping tears from my face, wondering how the heck I’d ever get through any presentation again.

Fast forward to today…

So yeah, I can say now with a sigh of relief I have (somewhat) conquered my stage fright . Here are my best body language tips I’ve learned from my years of struggle. My aim for you in this article is to give you a boost of confidence the next time you’re giving a presentation!

They might sound small, but they matter.

So what’s one of the best ways to signal, “Hey, I’m your friend”? Is it:

The answer is d) all of the above!

Here’s why these nonverbal cues are so powerful while presenting:

Right when I start a presentation, I like to immediately show my palms. This is absolutely essential to do in video calls since it’s even harder to build rapport than with in-person presentations.

Here’s me, where I show my palms in my TED Talk:

Showing your palms is a great way to signal to others that you have no weapons in your hands. This works because our primitive brains kick into overdrive, worrying that someone may brandish a hidden weapon.

You can even try it! The next time you’re in a conversation, bury your palms deep in your pockets or keep them behind your back. You may notice the other person seems a little unsettled or nervous.

A great way to show your palms during a presentation is to open with a personal story. Personal stories are full of truth and honesty, so you might find your hand gestures naturally opening up (you may not even have to consciously think about opening your palms!).

The eyebrow flash.

It’s a commonly used gesture in greetings, especially when two people recognize each other. In essence, a quick up-down of the eyebrows shows someone that you’re happy to see them.

Research even shows that it’s used by monkeys and apes, meaning this is likely an inborn gesture.

So here’s the golden rule for presentations: always eyebrow flash when you walk onto stage. Just a quick, up-down of recognition. Couple it with a genuine smile (coming next!), and you’ve got a killer combo that shows you’re trustworthy and friendly.

But be careful of overdoing it—move your eyebrows up -and -down too many times and you’re inviting a different kind of attention!

Did you know a real smile includes what is known as the “Duchenne marker,” or wrinkles around the corners of the eyes? Without this key indicator, a person might be faking their smile.

Check out more mouth cues, including licking lips, lip biting, and pursed lips here: 39 Mouth Body Language Gestures

When we’re nervous on stage, we often go into “deer in the headlights” mode.

We bring our arms in close, keep our feet in the smallest space possible, and bring our shoulders in like a turtle. To give effective presentations, you’ve got to learn how to master your space.

Don’t forget there is space around you! Widen your stance, walk around, use big gestures, and power pose.

Other than taking up space, another body language presentation trick you can use is to minimize space between you and the audience.

Bridging the distance between you and the audience is a powerful cue to use sparingly.

In the 1992 debate between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, Clinton is asked a question from the audience.

But rather than answering it immediately, he stands up and tries to get as close to the speaker as possible. This little difference allowed the crowd to resonate with Clinton more than Bush, who stood answering questions at a distance.

It was a small change, but it made a world of impact.

Save this for points that really matter to you. When you want your audience to lean in and listen up, move close.

I also do this during question and answer sessions.

Generally speaking, pointing is considered rude… except when you’re presenting with a big screen or projector. If you don’t have a laser pointer or long stick, pointing HELPS the audience by directing their eye gaze at what they should be paying attention to.

Make sure to point at the screen if you think your audience needs a bit more engagement, or during really lengthy and explanatory parts of your slides with text, so they can visualize better.

Remember those times in class when the teacher asked us to raise our hands? Teachers do it for a reason: it increases audience engagement! Whenever you ask a question to the audience, try to spin it in a way to get the audience to participate:

Since raising our hands is still likely a learned body language that is ingrained in our brains, utilizing this body language cue is a no-brainer to keep the audience hooked.

Here’s a quick way to boost your perceived intelligence during a presentation: increase your eye contact! Make sure to sweep across the room as you make eye contact with others. Maintaining eye contact is great if you want to build rapport with others. It’s even been found to increase feelings of love and affection!

And forget about the “imagine your audience naked” advice that somehow got popular.… Instead, imagine your audience members are your closest friends.

Imagine your audience are your closest friends. They are there to root for you!

Even if it’s one close friend, imagine you are talking to them. You’ll naturally make more eye contact, your body language will open up, and you’ll be more authentic and honest. No wonder the eyes are the window to the soul.

Side Note: Don’t forget those in the back! Always make contact with every single person in the room, if you can. If it’s a bigger audience, you might want to mentally section-off the crowd in blocks to make sure you make eye contact with most of the crowd.

Humor is one of the best ways to turn a dull presentation into a lively one. Who doesn’t love to laugh?

Chances are, you’re not laughing enough.

Research shows that adults only laugh an average of 15 times a day, while preschoolers laugh 400 times 1 !

It’s not only about feeling good, either. Laughing is actually more about building relationships than reacting to jokes.

That’s why laughter is 30 times more likely to occur in social situations than by yourself!

Laugh more if you want to become more likable.

Verbal back channels, cadence, mumbling, and stuttering—learn more body language tips to give you a boost in your people skills arsenal!

Sure, everybody knows not to be a slouch: chest up, shoulders back, and head raised.

But did you know adding a slight forward lean to your presentation can increase engagement? Just imagine the last time you were super hooked in a conversation.

Chances are, you were leaning slightly forward:

Body leaning is our body’s natural way of saying, “Wow, this is interesting!” If you see it in your audience? That’s great! And if you do it yourself? You are sub communicating that you’re interested in both the audience AND what you’re saying.

Add a slight forward lean to increase audience engagement.

Here’s the deal: Research shows that using hand gestures increases the value of your message by a whopping 60%!

And we confirmed it using science.

In our human behavior research lab, we analyzed thousands of hours of TED Talks and found one striking pattern: the most viral TED Talkers spoke with their words AND their hands.

Want to dive into our research and see which hand gestures to use to WOW a crowd? Click below to find out: 60 Hand Gestures You Should Be Using And Their Meaning

Here’s a self-test you can try out right now: cross your arms.

Which arm appears on top?

Science says that 7 out of 10 people cross their left arm over their right one 1 .

Crossing arms over your torso is not only a way of defending your most vital organs, but also a form of “self-hug.”

People normally cross arms when they feel defeated or defensive. In presentations, you might find yourself manifesting the arm cross in subtler ways—reaching across the body to fiddle with a watch, adjusting a shirt cuff link, or even adjusting a tie knot.

To counter crossed arms, always default to having your arms relaxed and to the sides when you’re not gesturing. Having your arms to your sides is the most natural position and one that shows you’re confident enough to be relaxed.

Want more cues to arm yourself? Head on over to our guide: Crossed Arms and 17 More Cues to Know

Have you ever been in a presentation where the person giving the speech stands behind the podium the whole time? Podiums are a huge presentation faux pas and effectively block presenters from the audience.

If there’s a podium in the room with you, a personal tip I try to use is to never use the podium for more than a quarter of my presentation. Not only do podiums plant you in place, they also block off half your body.

Here’s a hilarious example of giving a presentation behind a big table… notice how nobody knows what could be going on down there!

Podiums and tables are great as a bounce-back point (if you need to check your notes, change slides, take a sip of water, etc.), but shouldn’t be a nest you coop up in all day.

It was September 26, 1960. The entire nation was tuned in to see the first- ever televised presidential debate, featuring John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

Except there was one glaring problem for the Republicans.

The millions of Americans who tuned in could see Nixon sweating under the hot studio lights, while Kennedy remained as cool as a cucumber. Nixon also displayed other signs of anxiety, like lip licking and fast blinking.

So who won the presidential debate ?

It turns out, most people who listened to the debate on the radio voted for Nixon, due to his deep, rich voice.

But those who saw it on the big screen? Hands down, the majority of them sided with Kennedy. During a presentation, people will be able to read a lot from your face. Are you a nervous lip biter? Do you sweat when you’re under pressure? Do you blink too much—or not enough?

Try these tips to master your facial expressions :

And remember, it can’t be all that bad. Have a look at Colin Robertson’s hilarious TED Talk , where things seem to go awry.

I generally don’t recommend having notes with you if you can help it. Using notes is great to keep you on -pace, but relying on them could be a crutch.

Physically holding them in your hands could take up valuable palm space for gesturing and can make your movements more awkward. You can also forget to make eye contact at critical moments.

I recommend keeping your notes to a bare minimum (i.e., don’t write your college thesis on them) and leaving them at the podium or by your side. Refer to them as needed, but you should be at a place where you only need to look at a few key words to remember what you’re going to say next.

Many presenters already know they should move and take up space. But sometimes it can be easy to over-do it. One powerful, advanced body language trick is to actually keep still and silent during the important parts of your presentation.

Steve Jobs was a master at movement. Watch as he moves to emphasize his points, but during the very important points, he tends to stay still and command attention:

What colors you wear can drastically affect the perception of you on camera. Just take a look at these 2 different outfits, but with their colors switched:

Vanessa in black dress vs Vanessa in pink dress

See how different I look?

One image portrays power, confidence, and authority. The other is perfect for spring picnics and tea time.

OK, those images are a bit on the extreme side. But for normal colors, choose your color to match the mood you want to give off:

Check out this article: Color Psychology: What Colors Should You Wear and Why

One way to speak is like a monotone news reporter:

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got an enthusiastic preacher:

In most presentations, you want to be somewhere in the middle (leaning toward enthusiastic).

Vocal variety is a huge body language cue that you can easily change to spice up your presentations. If you’re not naturally vocally gifted like Freddie Mercury, no worries! Try a vocal warm-up .

One of my favorite vocal warm-ups I do almost every time before a video or presentation is to simply hum:

Do this five times and be amazed at how magical your newly – prepped voice is.

Remember, your goal as a captivating presenter isn’t just to relay information. You’ve also got a second job as an entertainer. Remember to engage the audience and have fun on stage! Your audience will appreciate it, and you’ll feel more free, too.

You may have heard that communication is 93% nonverbal, and only 7% verbal. These percentages are actually false. We may not know the exact percentage, but nonverbal communication plays a huge role in presentations (with the right body language, you can turn any old, boring content into the most exciting presentation ever!).

Open, confident body language allows you to clearly express your message during a presentation, without disengaging your audience. Great body language during presentations builds your credibility, draws the audience’s attention to your points, and helps you connect with your listeners and build rapport.

You might not realize it, but you are presenting ALL the time. Whether it’s:

… we are constantly presenting. So I want to help you achieve your presentation goals. Whether you’re looking to find the best openers and closers, use visuals in your presentations, tell amazing stories, or even present online, I’ve got you covered: Master Your Presentations With Powerful Presentation Skills

Are there any other presentation body language tips you have? Or can you relate to my embarrassing story? Leave a comment below!

Side Note: As much as possible we tried to use academic research or expert opinion for this master body language guide. Occasionally, when we could not find research we include anecdotes that are helpful. As more research comes out on nonverbal behavior we will be sure to add it!

A facial expressions chart detailing the 7 universal expressions

Crack The Code on Facial Expressions

The human face is constantly sending signals, and we use it to understand the person’s intentions when we speak to them. 

In Decode, we dive deep into these microexpressions to teach you how to instantly pick up on them and understand the meaning behind what is said to you. 

Don’t spend another day living in the dark.

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Using Cue Cards To Support A Confident Presentation

When giving presentations, even the most experienced presenters need to hand some notes to jog their memory and support their script. So, ruling out cue cards to be symbolic of unpreparedness, would be wrong. Rather, cue cards are your confidence cards that consist of pointers or keywords to keep up the flow of your PowerPoint presentation.

It won’t be far from truth if we say maintaining note cards during presentations shows that you are making an attempt to get your facts right. Not only this, using cue cards plays a pivotal role in engaging the audience and elevating your confidence level.

cue cards for presentations

Firstly, these cards are a simple information layout that comes handy. Thus, by no chance will you be forgetting even a single stance. This results in a more organized presentation that gives you enough time to interact with your audience.

Even when your slides keep running in the background, you can move around freely in the middle of your audience without even worrying about lack of any script. So, you can maintain eye contact and respond to queries from audience without any stress or nervousness of letting down the tone of your script by default.

Tips on how to use cue cards to support a confident presentation

For the moment, these may appear to be simple reference notes to you, but just make an attempt once. You will most definitely feel and look more present, with your presentation getting exceptionally enlivened.

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Cue cards for public speaking 

How to make & use them effectively.

By:  Susan Dugdale  | Last modified: 13-04-2021

Making good cue cards to help you confidently deliver your speech from standard office supply index or note cards is relatively easy.  And using them well will lift the quality of your presentation immeasurably. Truly!

The answer is simple.

Because when you are not holding and reading the entire text of your speech, word-for-word, you are free to interact with your audience.

You are able to:

You will sound, look and feel more present! Your entire delivery will have more life, more energy!

For those of you who are nervous about making the transition from the safety of a full script to note cards, don't be. Take it slowly. Give yourself time to thoroughly rehearse with them and you'll be delighted with the result.

What's on this page

Step by step guidelines on how to make and use cue cards

How to make cue cards

You'll need a packet of standard index cards, similar to the one in the illustration below, a selection of highlighters, (for example, yellow, pink, blue and green), and an easily-read pen. I suggest using one with either blue or black ink.

Image -materials needed for cue cards: index card, colored highlighters, pen

The 10 features of good cue cards 

The information you put on your cards and how you lay it out is critically important. You need to be able to read and understand them at a glance. (See the illustration below)

The most user-friendly cue cards:

Image: How to make a cue card - illustration showing features of a good cue card.

Preparing your speech for cue cards

Before starting the cue cards you need to make sure your speech is fully prepared.

The next 3 steps are an essential part of the preparation process.

1. Reviewing your speech outline

Using your speech outline go through from the beginning checking the sequence of ideas, supporting material and  transitions to ensure all your information is in an effective and logical sequence.  (And if you haven't made an outline yet  download and use the blank one available from the link below.)

Have you outlined your speech?

If you haven't got a speech outline already prepared ...

Use this  printable blank speech outline template . It will make preparing your cue cards a breeze.

Is your speech being evaluated?

If your speech is being judged, find out what the evaluator will be marking you on. Check this standard speech evaluation form .

2. Try your speech out loud

Do try your speech out loud and time it.

Remember to allow time for pausing, waiting for the audience to finish laughing before you begin talking again, and so on.

You may need to edit if it's too long and it's a lot easier to do that at this stage. 

3. Feedback

Once you have the length right for your time allowance, get in a couple of people whose judgment you trust to listen to you. Have them give you feedback on content, structure and delivery; paying particular attention to the introduction and the close.

Rework your speech if you need to.  When you're satisfied you have it the best it can possibly be, you're ready to prepare it for cue cards.

Getting from outline to writing up your cue cards

Identifying good keywords and phrases.

Each segment or part of your speech, from its introduction to conclusion, should  be reducible to a key word or phrase.  The phrase or keyword will act as a prompt triggering your memory for what it was you wanted to say.

Before you can write your cue cards you need to go through your speech outline and choose a word or phrase that best represents what each part is about.  

Once you've finished you're ready to write up your cards using the  1-10 guidelines  above.

For more on choosing and using keywords to effectively remember your speech check this page on  how to memorize a speech .

Test your cards as you make them

Double check the effectiveness of each card as you write them to make sure you are using keywords or phrases that actually do trigger your memory.

This is also particularly important for links or transitions. Forgetting how you got from one piece of information to the next not only leaves you stranded but your audience as well.

NB.  Be sure to note the names of important people, facts or processes too.

A word of warning

Do not be tempted to print or write the whole of your speech out, then cut it into bits and stick those bits onto pieces of cardboard. 

I've seen it! It's not good. And worse, it will defeat your purpose entirely.

You'll finish with cramped notes that, as well as being difficult to read, stop you from freely interacting with your audience. You'll be head down reading!

Rehearsing with your cue cards

Image: black and white - young man standing on a stage. Text: About rehearsing a speech

You'll find a full page here on ' how to rehearse ' .

It includes notes specifically on rehearsing using your cue cards as well as other valuable tips for delivering your speech successfully.

Now that you've completed your set of cards, please don't short change yourself by assuming you are fully prepared and ready for delivery.

To use them well you really do need to practice with them. Before you give your speech aim for at least three concentrated rehearsal sessions. 

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Adult Learner preparing for Public Speaking

8 Body Language Cues for Powerful Public Speaking

Posted on September 18, 2017

Few things in the academic or professional world cause more anxiety than public speaking and presentations. The fear and anxiety is understandable, but not necessary – and indeed, most (if not all) of the reasons for that anxiety are completely in your control.

Preparation, practice and confidence are the three keys to successful public speaking. Even if you don’t feel confident on the inside, there are simple but significant ways to project confidence on the outside that will go a long way toward reeling your audience in and hitting your points home. You can learn how to project confidence and deliver a powerful presentation in our public speaking course, which is offered every semester.

In the meantime, here’s a quick primer on eight body language cues for powerful public speaking, according to Keith Yamashita of Unstuck:​

Read more of Yamashita’s tips in his original post here.​​

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Cue Cards - Yay or Nay?

Posted Friday, August 08 2014 by Dirk

Inexperienced speakers are often afraid that they may be forgetting an important point of their talk or that they get stuck and can't remember how to continue. Which is one of the reasons why so many presentations have lots of text on their slides.

Cue cards would seem to provide a solution to this problem. They're handy when you get stuck and since you now have the text of your talk at hand (pun intended), you can use more visual slides and still make sure not to forget anything of importance.

The Problem with Cue Cards

what is a presentation cue

I was reminded of this during a recent presentation, where the speaker used cue cards. She did look at her cards a lot, leaving us with the impression that she was reading the talk, even though, realistically, she couldn't have written everything she said on them. In other words, the cards probably only contained a few keywords or short phrases, but it still looked (and sounded!) like a prepared speech.

It happens to the Best

Even experienced speakers can fall into this trap. At TEDxStuttgart, actor Alexander Schröder gave a thought-provoking talk (in German) about the Evil in all of us and whether it could be used for Good. He started giving the speech from memory (and without a microphone, btw - the one you see in the video is only for recording, not amplification). A few minutes into the talk, however, he got stuck and pulled out his cue cards to get back on track.

what is a presentation cue

When and How to use Cue Cards

Cue cards can be useful. Simply knowing that you have them, in case of a blackout, can help put your mind at ease. Preparing cue cards may actually help you such that you don't need them during your talk - much like, back in school, when preparing a cheat sheet caused you to concentrate on the material so you could extract the most important bits. This in turn helped you remember the material better, without you actually having to use the cheat sheet later.

If you decide to use cue cards, I'd say start your talk without them. See how it goes. I'd bet that in most cases you won't need them at all. If you have to consult them, put them away again as soon as you have found your train of thought to avoid the impression that you're reading a prepared speech.

An alternative to cue cards are the presenter notes that every slideware application supports: You can leave notes with each of your slides and have them shown to you (and only you) on your laptop during your presentation. This of course requires that you're near your laptop.

Also, it's important to realise that the audience most likely won't notice if you forget some minor aspect of your talk. Since it's not on your slide (you are using visual slides, I would hope), they won't know what exactly you are going to talk about. If it's an important point, it should have it's own slide, of course, so you won't forget it.

If you want to give a good and engaging talk, there's no other way than to rehearse . Visual slides (if you're using slides) will provide enough context for you to remember what you want to talk about, once you've rehearsed the talk a few times. If you know that you're going to have your laptop nearby during your presentation, add a few keywords (not complete sentences - you won't have the time to parse them when you're stuck!) to your presenter notes.

To summarise

If you don't use slides or you can't use presenter notes, prepare cue cards if you feel you would need them. But only pull them out when you're really stuck - and don't forget to put them away again just as quickly.

(Photos: Stills from Alexander Schröder's talk at TEDxStuttgart)

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Dirk Haun [email protected] (or use the contact form ) Tel. +49 176-457 169 76 www.dirkhaun.de


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