Tip 30


On time of presenting. Some keynote presenters go on and on and ON! Those who are in the listening audience are too polite to say what they think about the length of the presentation. Having to endure prestressed for anywhere up to two hours one occasion is far, far too long.

My belief is that no initial presentation should go beyond 25 minutes. Used time beyond that for audience engagements through questions and other interactive response and sharing opportunities. The outcomes will be positive, the messages will stick and the audience will be satisfied.

Tip 31


I come from an era when those who were trained as teachers, had to model correct speech to students. This included pronunciation, enunciation, word choice and usage and overall clarity. Part of our training was that speech imperfections (ie ‘rabbits sun wing awound wochs’) had to be overcome before graduation. For those with speech and speaking challenges, corrective and elocution sessions were offered. They were free and compulsory. It was deemed that teachers who were to teach students, had to example correct speech and speaking.

How I wish this was still the case. 




Tip 28

Facial muscles are important because to use them can ‘make your face live’, providing animation and life through talk. An expressionless face can be taken by those listening as meaning the speaker is not really interested in what she or he is saying. Speech is helped by a ‘living face’ and pleasant expression.

Tip 29

Most of the time, conference and audience pictures are simply of people sitting and listening. Is there a chance that conference ‘action’ pictures might show people engaged more interactively in participative opportunities offered by presenters?

Maybe a weakness of presenters and their presentations is the fact they go on and on and on. Interactivity between presenter and the audience can add to the dynamics of the presentation.


Tip 26

An intriguing element about language is the disconnect between its theory and practice. The theory of language can be reasonably straightforward and understandable as it is studied on paper : Language in practice and in day-to-day terms of usage can be a lot more tricky. In Australian contexts, there are idiomatic factors of expression, the way words are emphasised, nuances, hidden messages, the use of colloquialisms (expressions) and so on. As well there is pitch, rhythm, tone, intonation and volume.

Tip 27

Of particular importance when communicating is to look at people with whom we are talking. Eye contact is an indicator of confidence. To speak with eyes averted and not to look at people to whom we are talking is taken to indicate alack of confidence, to be unsure of what we are saying or similar. It is a negative indicator. Similarly, if talking with a group, it is important to include everyone within the ‘eye contact’ circle.


Continuing with a series on personally and professional development I hope readers find useful.

Tip 24


* Video clips and playback can be useful monitoring devices. Ask a colleague to video you delivering a talk and then play it back. A great deal will be revealed in terms of gesture and body language. Included will be elements of visual performance about which you as a presenter were totally unconscious. These might include scratching your arm or bum, picking your nose, sniffing audible, offering inappropriate eye contact and so on. These revelations will help you as a presenter to be more conscious of visual elements (of presentation) about which you had no idea.

Tip 25

CLARITY of speech is important.

In our modern times, multiculturalism and dialectic emphasis can make speech hard to understand. While individualism and grammatical uniqueness should be respected, that does not wave the need for presenters to deliver in a way that allows the audience to fully comprehend and understand what is being said. This need will offer challenges to some presenters but the matter is one they must strive to master. Without making necessary changes in order to make speech ‘legible’ they will become inconsequential as presenters.





Continuing the series. I hope they are of use.

Tip  22


* Look at people. Don’t look over them, under them or around them.

* Engage people individually and collectively through eye contact. Rest on individuals and cover the audience.

* Make your eyes friendly, encouraging and inviting.

* Avoid flat or hostile eyes.

* Eyes are the most important parts of the anatomy when it comes to gesture.

Tip 23


* Needs to be compatable with the presenter and magnifying of speech.

* Gesture is a tool that can help emphasise and reinforce points.

* Overdoing gesture can undermine conversation because recipients are studying aspects of body language rather than listening to what is being said.

* Objects in hands can distract.



Continuing some thoughts and suggestions.

Tip 20


When speaking, insert punctuation so that the audience ‘hears’ commas, semi colons, and full stops. This is achieved through pause which adds the emphasis punctuation is about.

Pause is a way of emphasising important points that have been made. To pause gives listeners a brief reflective space. In that context ‘pause’ is a way of emphasising elements of speech.

‘Inflection’ is a way of building emphasis and highlighting points that are being made. This adds to the vibrancy of speech and triggers listening reception that helps to make points ‘stand out’ in audience comprehension.

Tip 21


The syndrome ‘boring voice’, associated with monotone expression is a habit into which it can be easy to lapse. Keeping one’s voice interesting, vibrant and in resonation territory is important,. This is especially the case when topics are seriously challenging. Monotonish voice is a sure fire shut off, negatively impacting the comprehension of listeners.

Nasalisation, that is speaking through one’s nose, can be equally off-putting to listeners. While cultural; and dialectic differences impact on nasal speech, aiming for enunciation to be as clear as possible is important.

Facing the audience can be easily overlooked. When speakers move, speaking side on or even back on to the audience can happen. This is a presentation characteristic that must be avoided.


Unedited text of column published in ‘NT Suns’ on. July 25 2017.



When people talk about the NT’s show cycle, thoughts turn to sideshow alley, pluto pups, show bags and lighter wallets. However, there is another side to shows which take place at Fred’s Pass then in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Darwin. It is the chance for Territorians to display handiwork and share creative prowess.

Children and students from many schools share in this celebration. Classes enter art/craft competitions and are other categories. Individual students representing their schools or entering privately, go for art, craft, construction, cooking, and for some the making of clothes. They are justifiably proud of their prize and participation certificates. Many take these awards to school to share with classmates.

Some aspects of shows extend the work of particular educational institutions. The Katherine Show provides an excellent opportunity for students from the Katherine Rural College (an arm of the Charles Darwin University) to demonstrate agricultural, animal husbandry, and equestrian competence. The same opportunities are offered to students of Taminmin High School at the Royal Darwin Show. A visit through Exhibition Hall during the Royal Darwin Show confirms that many students and schools use this as an opportunity to display their artistic, cooking and creative talents.

Shows are an educational extension. They provide urban and town based students a chance to learn about animals and plants. Animal husbandry and horticultural awareness for many students is an experience only available during show times. Shows provide a chance for other young people to demonstrate their competence in these fields.

The show circuit also offers our Education Department and various schools the chance to let the public know about educational trends, directions and developments. Displays are often interactive and many queries for later follow up are raised by members of the public to educational personnel operating the display. Maybe more schools could consider having promotional stalls at the show when it comes to their city or town.

Sideshow alley and the various rides are of course a part of every show. However, there is much more to the show than amusement. Exhibiting and learning opportunities are very much a part of these annual events. Without doubt shows support both student learning and their sharing of skills with the NT public.


Continuing with these thoughts.

Tip 18

My concern is more with the qualities of speaking and LISTENING than with the mere speaking of words. There is speaking and speaking. Listening as a part of the speech platform seems to have gone by the bye. Too often people listen for pause, so they can begin speaking. They listen but don’t hear or comprehend.

When speaking, offer audience members a chance if possible to interact by way of asking questions and sharing their opinions. This kind of workshopping engagement is often far more appealing than audience being subject to an ongoing non-participative presentation.

Consider KEY WORDS on palm size prompt cards to guide in speech presentation. Those speaking without notes and visible paper aids are often more convincing than those dependent on ‘paper’ speeches.

Tip 19

Keep speeches and presentations short. Ideally, no more than 25 minutes. Long and ongoing presentations turn into rambles. Audiences turn off and begin clock watching.

Choose words carefully. They need to fit the audience profile. Presenters should avoid talking up and talking down to audience groups. This will happen if the audience type or group is researched and that is a hallmark of respect for listeners.

When speaking, make whole sentences impactive. Don’t fade away toward the end of sentences and don’t clip statements in a way that reduces their impact and meaning.


Continuing some thoughts on this very important subject

Tip 16
As a presenter, never resort to SARCASM or berate others when dealing with those who have counter viewpoints to what you are espousing. This indulgence can only ever lead to self- belittlement.

When addressing MULTICULTURAL AUDIENCES it is critically important to deliver the message honestly, but without offending race, culture or creed. That can so easily happen and consequences can hurt.

Be presenters for whom LISTENERS THIRST. Don’t be a presenter causing audience to wish either you or they were elsewhere. It can and does happen. How do we guard against this being a consequence?


Tip 17
The proof of the message imparted by a good presenter is the life changing impact that can happen in and for the lives of others. Words are powerful artefacts of social and cultural expression.

It matters not if your audience is big or small. All those who come to hear you are paying you respect. Respect them in turn by offering the best delivery possible.

Should the development of speech and speaking programs be part of the curriculum available to children and students of all ages? 



This is the third instalment of this segment


After presenting, take a few minutes to self reflect and evaluate your delivery. Be analytical. Self praise and reflect on things you might do differently. Make a few notes on pros and cons.

Keep a notebook or a running file in which you note things being done well and mastered. Also note speech and speaking challenges that continue to confront you during your development.

Appreciate the speech efforts of others and where appropriate commend them on strong points of delivery and impact of message. Have the confidence to offer advice in a non – threatening or ‘put down’ manner. People can only improve if they know where areas of challenge exist.


Consider SOCRATIC DISCUSSION. It is a method of engaging presenters and recipients in great discourse methodology. It is superior as a way of developing shared learning and understanding.

The Socratic method of discussion helps students think logically and in a problem solving way. It focuses on issues and messengers rather than messengers. It uplifts debate and brings everyone into the conversational frame. If the discussion area is appropriately set, it ensures everyone is on the same level, with all participants able to see each other’s faces. There is no talking to the back of hears, rather the opportunity to engage in meaningful visual and eye contact.

Think of having someone as a CRITICAL COLLEAGUE offer you feedback on your presentations. Ask for recognition of your strengths and constructive criticism on things you might improve in future.

The presentation challenge is everlasting. We never reach the pinnacle. If we feel we have made it, with nothing left to learn, our slide into the area of lesser effectiveness begins immediately.

Encourage those in your workplaces, to consider speech and speaking development. So many people are frightened of dealing with the public because they lack communications confidence. Help them up.

Consider developing and including a MISSION STATEMENT of 25 words or less on the reverse side of your business or personal card. I did this from 1983. It can make a significant impact when shared.

When speaking to an audience be meticulous about acknowledging your sources if using quotes or referring to a particular thesis of thought. Plagiarism may not be intended but can be a speech blot.

Know your AUDIENCE CONTEXT and speak in a genre with which they are familiar and therefore feel comfortable. Talking above the heads of the audience would be unfortunate. Research audience background.
When speaking convey your RESPECT to and APPRECIATION of the audience. You commit to present and they commit to listen. Within every auditorium and lecture hall should exist a positive partnership.

It seems to me that school leaders, teachers, support staff and students are the ACTORS. The school and classrooms are stages. ‘Education’ is the plot and the future in life’s world the conclusion.

Can it happen that a speaker presenting the same content to a number of different audience groups can stereotype the presentation so those ending the speaking chain are unimpressed by the delivery?