The 3 Secrets to Delivering a Great Presentation

What’s the difference between a good and great presentation?
Here are three secrets that will make the difference between your next presentation being ‘good enough’ or you taking the leap and delivering a speech that is great.
Let’s deconstruct one of my favorite TED talks, Half a Million Secrets by Frank Warren to show you how. 


#1 Use Pauses 
Silence and pauses can speak louder than words. In Frank’s talk, he pauses in between each of the secrets he shares with us. These pauses help us see and hear the deep connection and respect he has for each person who has sent him a secret on a postcard. For the audience, it gives them time to take in Frank’s messages. Using pauses also has another benefit. It will give you time to take a breath and calm any jangly nerves (here’s my HuffPost article for more anxiety busting tips).


#2 Vary Your Voice
Sometimes the way you speak can lull your audience to sleep if you get stuck in your default vocal rhythm. Your usual vocal pattern can begin to sound dull or monotone when it used the same way during your entire presentation.

Your voice has the gift of immense power to deliver messages, inspire change, and engage an audience. The tone of your voice can help tell whether you want to be serious, funny, formal, or casual. If you speak with a low voice, it can convey a more serious message. A higher tone can convey enthusiasm. If you choose to speak slower you can drive home your points.
As Frank speaks, he varies his voice in between the secrets he shares. His voice allows the audience to recognize the humor in some of the secrets and how they can take many forms. At the end of his talk, he shares a recording from a grandmother sending birthday wishes. He ends it with “thank you”, his voice truly respectful and humble, which fills you with the feeling of the importance of family connection and legacy.

 #3 Learn Your Presentation (Don’t Memorize It) 
It may be tempting to memorize your speech word for word because you want to get it ‘just right’. But when the time comes to deliver it, and nerves hit, you may find yourself struggling to remember a word or point you want to make. I have my clients learn the key points of the presentation and expand on them to stop the deer-in-headlights-I-can’t-remember-the-next-line problem in its tracks.

In sharing stories like Frank did, he remembers the people he wants to talk about. Matty, for example, was inspired by one of Frank’s secrets to start his own website, IFoundYourCamera. Frank riffs about the lovely story of Matty’s kindness – how he helps reunite them with their precious pictures/cameras.

There you have it. Three ways to make your next presentation great: Take your time and let your audience drink in your words while using the full range of your voice. And remember you don’t want to sound like an over-practiced drone. Be bold and have the courage to riff a little.

If you want to learn how to put these ‘secret’s’ into practice and learn many more ask me about delivering a workshop to your organization. 


It can feel like you’re able to give a great big (yet, nerve wrecking) performance every time you step on stage. However, you may be compromising something important to delivering a bold and memorable presentation. That component is audience connection.

Let’s break down the difference between a performance and a presentation

A performance is ‘performed’ by an actor on stage. In the role of an actor, you step into character and become someone else. You are bound by a script.

When you deliver a presentation, you are sharing an idea or telling a story you are passionate about. You aren’t becoming someone else. It’s just you, your idea, and/or your story. It can feel vulnerable.

The audience is asked to clap for you during a live performance. Quite different though from when you’re performing than when you’re delivering a speech, isn’t it? An audience member doesn’t need to clap for you unless they feel compelled to and you’ve moved them by your message.

You may remember me talking about the importance of eye contact and how it has the power the move an audience. An actor doesn’t necessarily need to have eye contact to give an outstanding performance. The eye contact a speaker gives should be intentional and part of giving an inspiring presentation/speech so she connects with her audience.

Who do you have in mind when you’re speaking? 

Sometimes when we’re preparing for a presentation and getting nervous because of butterflies, we can forget who a presentation is really for…the audience.

When you come from a mindset of preparing ourselves for a performance, you may lose the authentic connection that we initially wanted to achieve.

I know nerves can get the best of you as you stand up there and you may want to imagine the faces staring back at you really aren’t there.

But if you imagine yourself having a conversation, I know you will engage, move, and inspire your audience.

If you’re ready to make your next presentation memorable, contact me to deliver a workshop for your organization. 


And how many times do you actually practice your presentations?

If you’ve listened to my podcast interviews, many of my guests have shared how they’ve prepared for their presentations.

Issac Lidsky, the author of Eyes Wide Open, shared: “Words matter and precision with language is important.” When he took the TED stage to deliver What Realty Are You Creating for Yourselfhe told me that he practiced over a thousand times. Can you imagine? Over a thousand times!

Issac Lidskey Practice TED talk

Jill Sherer-Murray moved her audience in her inspiring talk: the Unstoppable Power of Letting Go. Can you guess how many times she practiced? Over 600 times. Both Issac and Jill practiced more than you probably expected. Was it too much? When you watch their TED talks, you’ll agree both of their talks were inspiring and memorable. Their confidence radiated while they shared their stories.


Both Jill an Issac received a standing ovation at the end of their talks. With the high number of views of their TED talks, the reach reveals all the practice was worth it.

But why do we need to practice public speaking more than we think we should? 

It’s tough not to be nervous before and those initial few minutes while you stand on stage. Everyone is (or they should be). You can calm those butterflies by practicing your presentation so you know it inside out and have full confidence your words will flow without having to think too much about them.

There’s no magic number to how many times you need to practice. I tell my clients once you know your presentation fairly well just practice the pieces you are stumbling on. Practicing a presentation in its entirety is onerous. By practicing the tough bits you’ll save time. Then as event day is near put all the pieces together and practice until you can’t stand the sound of your voice anymore. And then a few more times.

It’s not only the words of the presentation that should be practiced. It’s also the delivery. You should practice how you make eye contact with your audience, body language, and tone of voice.

How do you practice your presentations?

Jill practiced her presentation in the shower, on the road, walking her dog, in a yoga class, and at a university. Issac practiced his presentation to his wife nearly 500 times (the woman is a saint).

It is important to find someone you can trust that will give you honest feedback and will tell you more than, “It was good.” If that’s something you’re hearing, it’s time to find someone else. Remember too, to choose feedback from someone who has expertise in rhetoric, communication, influence, and persuasion.

A speaker coach like myself can help you. I work with clients to ensure they give bold speeches that influence and engage.

Get in touch … I’d love to show you how.

To your voice,



If you haven’t already watched Shrina Kurani’s TEDx talk you should. Shrina had less than four hours to prepare for her talk. I can’t even begin to imagine the pressure. But she handled the pressure like a pro.  Right from the start of her talk, she drew me in with her hook – it was only four lines. I won’t spill. You’ll need to watch How Your Dinner Could Save the World for yourself.

Saying “yes” that day to the TEDxSalinas organizers quickly put her in a panic as she realized what she signed up for. However, she calmly got back up on her feet and realized something else, “You’ve already won by simply saying yes”.

Come join me as Shrina humbly shares her story of her work in the Himalayas, how the experience inspired her TEDx talk, and how she prepared in such a tight timeframe.

Shrina Kurani at TEDx Salinas

Show Highlights

3:44 Why Shrina agreed to be a TEDx speaker four hours before it started

4:30 How she managed to gain confidence and get into the “I can do it” mindset

5:20 The first step she took to developing her speech framework

7:30 Her experience in the Himalayas and its connection to her passion for sustainability

9:09 How she came up with the “hook” of her presentation

12:00 The one piece of advice she received from another speaker

15:42 Using the questions “how” and “why” to develop her presentation

17:11 Keeping her audience in mind as she spoke about food and sustainability

21:30 Empowering women by getting them to step into the role of the beekeepers

23:16 Shrina’s important call-to-action at the end of her TEDx presentation


Follow Shrina on LinkedIn

Shrina TedxSalinas talk “How Your Dinner Could Save the World

About Shrina Kurani

Shrina Kurani backs entrepreneurs to build better worlds by designing technologies that work for people and our planet. An engineer turned sustainability scientist, her international background includes research, engineering consultancy, and systems design to social entrepreneurship and business development.  


The Heart and Soul of Presentations: Audience Connection

What’s the difference between a ho hum speaker and one you talk about for days (in a good way)?


A confident speaker knows how to connect with their audience, which makes them feel even more confident – it’s a table tennis (back and forth) kind of thing.

But how do you actually connect?

Here’s how.

In my latest video, my three tips will give your confidence a boost and help you learn the skill of audience connection.

Perhaps you’re questioning that confidence and connecting with an audience is something that just comes naturally? And it’s those ‘certain’ types of people who are off-the-cuff confident and can connect easily?

You’ll be happy to know …  it IS a skill that can be learned.

If you want to expand your speaking career, boost your confidence, and connect to an audience, get in touch with me. I’d love to show you how.

To your voice,



Don’t think about a pink elephant. 

The image of a pink elephant is now embedded in your mind and you can’t erase it…right?

When you’re talking with someone or giving a presentation your mind can play the same nasty trick when you think too hard about what to do with your hands.

The hand question is one that I’m most often asked.

And it’s a tough one to answer because how we use our hands (and arms) should come naturally. Yes, it’s easy for me to say because I come from French ancestry. We (and I) tend to let our hands fly.

For those of you who don’t come by this emotive way of speaking like I do, Here are three tips to get you started – with one caveat – don’t overthink it.

1) You can simply place your arms and hands at your side. But if you’re not feeling at ease you’ll look like a wooden stickman. By touching your thumb and middle finger together it will help you ‘fake’ looking more natural and relaxed.

Relaxed - hands to the side

2) Or you can do a lawyer’s pose with your fingertips together. Resting your hands naturally with your fingertips coming together just at or below waist height gives you an easy launching pad for your hands.

Lawyer's Pose

3) You can also hold your hands in front of you at around mid-chest with your fingers creating a church steeple. Body language experts say this shows confidence and authority.

I’ll leave you with one ‘not to do’.

Crossing your arms is an easy posture to fall into and it makes you look unapproachable.

And that’s not how you want to be seen when you’re delivering your next presentation. You want to open the connection to your audience with wide and open body language.

Give those three techniques a try and let me know how it goes.


Keep your heart open to opportunities is my motto. From an article I wrote that went viral about the terrific example Frank Warren is as a presenter, to being spurred on by him to start a podcast, here is my first jump (both feet in) into podcast recording. I’m beyond excited to share with you, my first episode!

Frank shared some public speaking ‘secrets’ that will surprise you. They did me.

Learn from a master presenter how to stand on stage with ease and confidence. Frank shares how he battled stage anxiety and the privilege he has come to know it is to facilitate important dialogue.

Frank is a difference maker who has made a mark on mental wellness and suicide prevention.

Thank you for listening and thank you, Frank, for being the impetus for this new podcast.

Simply, thank you.

To your voice…


Three Situations When You Shouldn’t Use PowerPoint™

The Onion cracks me up. It’s sage and humorous tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek rantings often have me choking on my morning toast.

Not a fan of PowerPoint™ slidedecks? Here’s some Onion style ammunition  to convince your friends and colleagues.

Seriously though, slidedecks have a time and a place. Sometimes its best to not use them at all.

Don’t use a slidedeck if you:

  • Haven’t practiced your presentation and are winging it (not advised). Technology will usually fail you.  You will look like an amateur.
  • Are giving a motivational presentation and can easily speak from the heart. Your audience will all ready know the information. You are there to inspire them.
  • Do you want to appear as a remarkable leader? Most presenter’s use a slidedeck. What if you didn’t?

The next time you give a presentation consider whether you really need to create a slidedeck. Will your audience miss it?  No, likely not.

The advantage that you have with not using a slidedeck is that all attention and eyes will be focussed on you.

Have you given presentations without a slidedeck? What was the reaction to your bold move?

Love to hear your comments below …

To Your Voice,





Visualizing myself being successful and taking deep belly breaths helps me get control of my nervousness  when I speak in public…techniques I recommend to my clients. They do work if you actually do them and not just think about doing them…

Over at PsyBlog they’ve shared a new research study that proves that if an athlete clenches their left fist it stops them from choking. Looks as though the research study is not large or broad enough to be conclusive but when they had athletes clench their right fist the results weren’t as good.

I’m going to try this before my next speaking event. Give it a try — I’d love to hear back if it works for you.

To your voice,


Image: Nomadic Lass



By Corrie Miller

Nancy Duarte is the Queen. Really. Duarte has been a game changer when it comes to presentation content and delivery. She is the author of Slide:ology and Resonate, two influential books on the subject, and was the mind behind Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” Presentation. She has truly changed the way people think about the use of images and story when communicating their ideas.

I invite you to have a watch of her TEDx talk where she explains her story arc theory she calls the Sparkline. This presentation has everything a presentation should have:


1. Passion for the story

2. Authenticity in its delivery

3. It is strategically built for the audience and takes them on a journey

4. It has a great hook at the beginning (“Every one of us has the power to change the world”), and call to action at the close

5. And it has a solid key message that inspires you to become a better presenter, laced with sticky messaging throughout that resonates with the audience.

And she explains how…

you can do it too.

She is brilliantly authentic and a wonderful storyteller. I hope you enjoy and have as many take-aways as we have.



Embedding isn’t cooperating today and if the video disappears, here’s the link.

To Your Voice,



Be bold. Get heard. Inspire action.