Be your own cheerleader - top tips for presenting

Nicola Davin
Nicola Davin

Nicola Davin, Principal of the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy Sussex

When your energy is up you infect other people in the room.

Your energy will make people sit up and listen more closely to what you are saying because it will seem exciting to them.

Before you enter the room spend some time getting your energy up – jump up and down and shake out your arms and legs and make sure your opening line is high energy and captivates your audience.

2. Status

We instinctively listen and respond to those with a higher status than us.

If your status is obviously low (apologising, speaking quietly, wringing your hands) people won’t believe in you or your ideas.

In front of a mirror practise your speech as if you are a very high-status character, a king, queen or leader of a country. Step into that character. You should have a straight back, confident hand gestures, clear speech with no ‘umms’ or ‘ah’.

3. Voice

People listen to how you talk more than what you say. Doing exercises on breath control, projection, tone, pitch and inflection will be guaranteed to make you a better speaker and more importantly give you the tools to feel more confident when speaking. Practise the basics:

Use the line “I just know that something good is going to happen!” Say this line in your natural voice.

Then say it again and imagine each word is a dart hitting the wall on the other side of the room, filling the whole room.

Repeat with paragraphs from your speech. This exercise helps with projection – you should be breathing from your diaphragm which you should feel pumping in and out as you say each word.

4. Physical

Warm up your body to be ready to speak and perform with confidence. Film yourself talking – watch it back being aware of when you use hand gestures and when you are simply stood still.

5. Facial

Make sure you make eye contact with your audience – and make sure you look at all parts of the audience as you speak. Direct specific sentences and questions to them.

6. Fun

Humour goes a long way in any presentation. One of the best examples of this is JK Rowling’s Harvard Commencement speech from 2008.

Nicola Davin is leading a Bite-sized Learning: Presenting and communicating with confidence on 5 February 2019.

For more information about Brighton Chamber and upcoming training events visit