9 Techniques To Guarantee A Crowd-Winning Presentation

Last week I was asked to speak to my son’s 6th grade class about how to make great presentations.

I said yes but then realized I’ve trained thousands of adults, but never any tweens. My son gently pleaded, “Mom, please don’t suck.”

As a parent, I was thrilled. Clearly and confidently conveying a message is one of the most important skills for anyone. It’s never too early to learn, practice and polish presentation skills.

I was terrified.

In my allotted 30 minutes, I decided to show two engaging video clips from TEDx and Wienot Films, model image-heavy slides and emphasize a few important physical skills.

crowd pleasing




Nine Tips to Win Over a Crowd

“No matter how old you are, or what you are presenting,” I told the room of 6th graders, “if you do these nine things, you will look confident, sound credible and connect with your audience every single time.”

  1. Be Prepared. Practice out loud, not just in your head. Record and watch yourself on video. Don’t read your notes.
  2. Take 8 deep breaths. Everyone, even the most experienced presenters, gets nervous. Don’t try to fight it. A few deep breaths will decrease your heart rate and help calm the nerves.
  3. Look your best. Be comfortable but look polished. A little over dressed is better than a little under dressed.
  4. Smile. Pleasant, engaging facial expressions make people want to listen to you. Your goal is to be likable.
  5. Make direct eye contact. Look right into your audience’s eyes for at least one full sentence. Then move to someone else. Hit each person eyeball to eyeball.
  6. Project your voice to the back of the room. Speak louder and slower than what feels normal.
  7. Stand up straight and proud. Minimize movement from the waist down. Face the audience at all times.
  8. Use big, natural gestures to visualize your words. Arm movements convey confidence, enthusiasm and passion.
  9. Create simple, compelling image-heavy visuals. The purpose of visuals are to help your audience remember key points. Excellent visuals elicit a emotional response and build a connection with your audience; they shouldn’t put your audience to sleep.

I was relieved not one 6th grader fell asleep during my presentation.

Maybe they’ll ask me back.

6th grade presentation stance
6th graders practice the “presentation stance”



Marta Steele is a Partner at PeopleResults and has more than 20 years of experience teaching presentation skills to executives, managers, college grads (and now middle schoolers). Connect with Marta on Twitter @MartaSteele.