LinkedIn: Presentation Skills - what the best presenters do! - Michelle Gibbings

Having the ability to effectively communicate and connect to one or many people at a time is an invaluable skill. For some people, it comes naturally and others not so, but everyone still needs to practice. I was delighted to contribute to this articleby Gabriella Horak of What’s Your Edge, about presentation tips from people who really know what it is like to connect on a grand scale. The article originally appeared on LinkedIn.


Last year we asked three of the best coaches and facilitators we know to share their top facilitation techniques. Now we have Steve Bradbury, Janine Garner, Michelle Gibbings and Oscar Trimboli sharing their best presentation tips. You’re welcome!

Having the ability to effectively communicate and connect to one or many people at a time is an invaluable skill. For some people, it comes naturally and others not so, but everyone still needs to practice. Here are presentation tips from people who really know what it is like to connect on a grand scale.

Steven Bradbury

Steven is a highly engaging motivational speaker and an Olympic Champion.

Having spoken at over 1000 conferences and events Steven Bradbury knows his way around a stage almost as well as his way around an ice rink (Yes, he was the Last Man Standing at the 2002 Winter Olympics).

Here’s Steven’s tip on presentation skills:

“Never say the word ‘UM’ onstage. Train yourself to pause instead of saying UM, ER, or anything like – ‘bear with me whilst I refer to my notes’. Onstage, pausing for a few seconds feels like an eternity, but for the audience, it is normal and can be a useful tool to gather your thoughts.

I remember when I first started using this technique people came up to me after my show and said – ‘Wow your pauses are fantastic’. Little did they know I was simply trying to remember the next line. After this I started to use pauses on purpose for effect”

Need a Motivator, MC or Comedian? (yep he’s a stand-up comedian now too!) You can call us, we recommend him as part of our Success Culture Programs. or check him out at

Oscar Trimboli

Oscar has dedicated his life’s work to the art of deep listening. He is the author of Deep Listening and offered this fascinating tip about understanding the power of the 125-400 rule of listening to keep a room engaged.

“Although you can think at 400 words per minute, you can only speak at between 125-175 words per minute. (Carver, Johnson, & Friedman, 1970). Therefore as a speaker, it’s critical you understand that your audience’s mind is designed to be distracted while you are speaking for 70% of the time. To make an impact as a speaker and help your audience listen more completely, use the power of neuroscience, to engage in full spectrum thinking. Engaging speakers tell stories that tie together evidence and data through the application of a metaphor.

Good speakers arrive with ingredients that the audience needs to make sense of, for themselves. Great speakers explain the menu, outline a recipe and highlight the interesting ingredients. Engaging the audience through the visual and auditory parts of the brain.

One dimensional thinkers make no impact – multi-dimensional thinkers create memorable speeches which help the audience to make sense of the story in their own words and spread the message after the speech.

Are you speaking about ingredients or the menu?”

Want to listen more deeply to what Oscar has to say about the power of listening deeply? Check out his podcast.

Michelle Gibbings

Michelle is the founder of Change Meridian and author of books ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career’.

Michelle’s key tip: EMBRACE THE FEAR!

“Fear and presenting go hand in hand. Rather than avoiding it, embrace it. A bit of fear is a good thing. It’s like an energy boost that makes you more alert and inspires action. When you feel the discomfort arise, it’s just your brain’s way of telling you that this event is important, and matters to you.

To not let the fear overwhelm you:

  • Breathe deeply to slow down your mind and focus
  • Strike a power pose. Amy Cuddy’s research shows that striking a pose for two minutes where you stretch and expand your body to take up as much space as possible impacts how you feel.
  • Get enough sleep, exercise and eat well before the event because feeling physically fit and mentally alert enables you to better manage any emotional reactions”

To find out more about Michelle:

Janine Garner

Janine Garner is a networking, collaboration and leadership expert. Janine is the Founder and CEO of the LBD Group an extraordinary women’s networking group developed for business, executive leaders and entrepreneurs.

She is also author of book It’s Who You Know!I have seen many of Janine’s excellent presentations and I love the context of her number one presentation tip being around: Respect and Service.

“From my perspective when it comes to awesome presentation skills, first and foremost get out of your own way.

Whenever I present I take a moment to consciously move into a place of service, so I am serving the audience, I am out of my own way and out of my head and I am taking a moment to connect with the audience. To be respectful of their time and giving them all I can of me during the moment I am on stage. I see too many presenters getting so wrapped up in their heads they are forgetting about the audience. So for me its get out of your own way and be in service always”.

If you’re a woman interested in connecting with like-minded business women, sharing knowledge and collaborating to drive commercial success for yourself and others, check out The LBD Group.

My Tip?

Own it! The audience does not know what you know and what you don’t. They don’t know how nervous or confident you are, or even how experienced or inexperienced you are. So, even if it’s your first presentation or 100th, own it as if you have been doing it 1000 times.

If you can choose to be in control or feel out of your depth, why not choose ‘control’? Preparation is critical in helping you with that control for any presentation and using techniques to calm your nerves can significantly assist in nailing your keynote or workshop.

This next technique is one a shared in a previous blog on Ways to Give Your Presentation an Edge. It’s one of my secret weapons.

“Where possible I mingle with delegates, I shake their hands, introduce myself and ask their names. It’s a great way to start building rapport. If it’s a big group and I am lucky to spot the few people I have met in the audience, I can make eye contact. This helps calm those initial adrenalin nerves. In small groups, it’s great to have a connection with participants. It breaks the ice, keeps them engaged and they are more likely to give you the nods and eye contact you need to get things rolling.”Conclusion

Pause – Listen – Breathe – Serve – Own it. All excellent presentation tips. Do you or your team need work on presentations? There are tried and true formulas for communicating effectively and presenting with impact that we can help you with as part of out professional development programs.