Seven P’s of Powerful Presentations

In business, you have to give presentations all the time, whether to a customer, when networking or in meetings. For some people this is easy, but for many it is a scary event. How do you create powerful presentations?

I have recently learnt that it’s with a lot of Peeing!!

  • Plan
  • Prepare
  • PracticeRosie Barfoot & Paul Hutchings
  • Polish
  • Projection
  • Perform
  • Passion

Having been a member of Toastmasters International for five years, I have found it an invaluable source of support, constructive feedback and learning. You have a team of supporters wanting you to succeed. It was a great privilege to represent my club, Casterbridge Speakers, at the Toastmaster’s Divisional finals


of the International Speech competition in Cardiff on April 28th. I was a winner at club and area to get there and then came third behind two incredible powerful speeches. I learnt so much on the journey and that day, which I would like to share.

1. Plan

There were strict criteria for the competition and I developed my speech to meet those. Even in the workplace, every speech you do will have criteria to meet a purpose. It is important to plan what you want to say and make sure it is relevant and applicable to your audience. Having just come back from a network event where we sat through a 45 minute presentation that was totally irrelevant to the audience, I can assure you this wins no friends. It requires researching your audience, checking out the venue and much more.

It is also important to make sure every word adds value to your message and will achieve your objective in the time allowed. Timing is vital, as you will not impress your audience by going over time.

2. Prepare

In preparing, it helps to be aware of your strengths and areas of improvement. I knew that my vocal projection and performance needed to be improved and I employed an actress coach to help me. She was fantastic and so helpful.

One great benefit I had in preparing my competition speech was having feedback from a range of people at Toastmasters. We can write a speech and think it is OK from our perspective. There is nothing like constructive feedback from a range of perspectives. It made me realise the importance of teamwork in speech crafting. It is not always comfortable to do, but for important speeches, I would advise running it past some trusted colleagues, family or friends.

Getting in the right mind set is important. There is nothing like telling yourself you love public speaking, enjoy it and are good at it. Get some encouragement from positive colleagues. It made all the difference for me to have my supporters there.

3. Practice

Judi Dench has not won Oscars from thinking she can ‘wing it’ on stage. I found that the more I practiced the more confident I felt and I could concentrate on body language, vocal variety and stage position rather than what I had to say.

Practice, practice, practice and practice some more. The more you do the more the words and movements will be embedded in your long term memory and if nerves hit, you are less likely to freeze.  Do you really want your ‘dress rehearsal’ to be in front of an important client?

4. Polish

A diamond is a beautiful thing, but its stunning beauty is revealed when it is polished. A great speech comes from being polished to the ultimate shine. ‘That’ll do’ will not provide the ultimate performance which your future business may depend on.

There are a variety of rhetorical techniques you can use to enhance your presentation, such as metaphors, alliterations, vocal variety, pauses and many more. I have learnt these from Toastmaster meetings and materials.

5. Projection

Projecting my voice is something that I still struggle with, but I learnt that opening my mouth more, breathing from the diaphragm, and looking to the back of the room to raise my chin, all helped. My coach told me to imagine I was ‘squeezing a lemon between my buttocks’ to aid breathing. That just made me laugh too much, so good luck if you try that one. Reading from notes  may drop your voice down.

 6.  Perform

A presentation is a performance and while I would advocate being true to yourself, you can be larger than life and take on your own persona, which is pertinent to the purpose. Do you want to be the expert professor, friendly guide or the comedian?

The winning speech I saw on April 28th was delivered with confidence, real panache and a desire to win. It was a true performance.

7.  Passion

What makes a persuasive or inspiring speech is the energy with which it is performed. No PowerPoint or prop can out do passion in delivering a speech. If you believe in what you are saying, are excited by it, and are enjoying yourself, then your audience will too. I know if I am tired or low in energy, then my speech will go flat. It is the fire in the belly which will give the speech that extra zing. In a metaphor, this is like the tennis of Andy Murray versus Tim Henman

One last P

Finally, after all these P’s, don’t forget to go to the toilet before you speak. When the adrenaline kicks in, it’s one less thing to worry about!

Above all, enjoy the moment to shine and be the diamond speaker you want to be.

See Toastmaster’s International UK website at to find a club near you.

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