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Anticipating the unexpected

Imagine this. You’ve practised your piece and got it near time perfect, and then someone interrupts you with a comment about you or your content.


They might think they’re being funny or even supportive but really they’re not.


Known as heckling, these unwanted interruptions from someone in the audience can be one of the biggest challenges when you’re presenting.


My advice is to anticipate a heckle. You might have a good idea of who’s likely to make it, so be prepared for them.


Having a few responses up your sleeve that allow you to ride the heckle and stay in control of your stage will help hugely. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • ‘Thank you! I thought someone would have something to say on that and there you are!’
  • ‘Audience interaction already! I must be hitting the spot.’


Keep it light-hearted. Your audience will love it and your heckler saves face.

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Present in the moment

What’s your preferred style for giving a presentation?


Do you prepare and practice or do you wing it? Or maybe you’re somewhere in between.


While I’m a great advocate of being practised and prepared, of knowing what you want to say and how you want to say it, there’s also a case for veering a little towards winging it.


The trick is be so well practised and prepared that instead of concentrating on your planned presentation it flows so well that you can really be in the moment too.


You can adapt or add to what’s going on that day in the wider world, make reference to something that’s come up at the event and most importantly you can read and react to your audience.


If you’re too busy recalling content, you won’t manage any of those and your audience won’t feel so engaged.


Aim to deliver in the moment.




Need help with preparing your presentation? Let's have a chat.


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Eyes or ears?

Imagine a situation where what you can see doesn’t quite match what you’re hearing.
It might be one of those film clips where the original soundtrack is replaced by something else, designed to make you laugh. Imagine some footage of a formal occasion where the voices and music indicate a completely different scenario.


When our eyes and ears are bringing us conflicting messages it can become confusing.


Picture someone saying how passionate they are about their topic while slouching and their head hanging down.


Picture the opposite, where someone is bouncing around seemingly full of energy at the same time as saying that they’re the shy retiring type.


Do you believe your eyes or your ears?


It’s the same when you’re giving a talk or presentation. However underconfident you’re feeling, act as if you are feeling confident and your audience will believe their eyes.


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Good morning Vietnam


Do you remember the movie Good Morning Vietnam, where the character played by Robin Williams started his daily radio show with that greeting?

How do you usually address your audience in your talks and presentations?

If you want to make sure you’re being seen to include all of your audience, using ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ is no longer fit for purpose. What about someone who chooses to identify as something other than male or female?

A simple way around that is to greet the location, the event itself, or the name of the organisation you are addressing. ‘Good morning London;’ ‘’Good morning (name of organisation);’ or even ‘Good morning everybody.’

Even if you’re confident that everyone in your audience identifies as male or female, there may well be some who takes notice of how current you are in the way you address your audience.

So just remember Robin Williams.


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Enthusiasm comes with a health warning

Working on adding passion and enthusiasm to his presentations, I asked a client who finds it challenging to vary his speaking voice to tell me about something from his recent holiday that he’d really enjoyed.

The difference was amazing!

His face lit up, his demeanour changed and his voice become so much more interesting to listen to.

Enthusiasm is contagious. When you convey your own enthusiasm for your content your audience will be so much more engaged, not only with your content but ultimately with your call to action too.

Whether you’re telling your story or doing a sales pitch, show enthusiasm.

How to do that? Here are a few tips:

  • Emphasise the descriptive words;
  • Describe what was going on for all 5 senses;
  • Relate your content to your audience with genuine interest;
  • Make full use of pitch, tone and volume in your voice;
  • Use pauses for great effect;
  • And of course SMILE!


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Read like you’ve never read before

‘You’ve taught me how to read properly.’

Honoured to be asked to read a popular bible reading at my niece’s wedding, I wanted to make it a bit different. I wanted to read it so that people would really listen as they’d possibly never listened before and for 1 person at least as this feedback shows, I achieved that.

How had I done that?

I had to read it as if I’d never read it before – but as with all good presentations, that required practise.

I experimented with which words and phrases to emphasise; I practised looking out at the congregation; I practised so that I could read it without my emotions tripping me up.

It’s the same with your own presentations. You need to practise so much that it sounds as though you just made it up.


Need help with that? Get in touch to arrange a call.


Rachel Maunder is a communication skills and speaker coach and professional speaker.


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Who’s in the audience?

I’m frequently asked questions about what kind of language should speakers use, should they temper their regional accents and which stories they should include in presentations.

The list could go on: What specific content, which key point to highlight, whether to use humour and if so, what kind of humour?

The answer is simple and always the same: it depends on who’s in the audience.

How familiar are they already with your topic? What’s their demographic? What are the similarities among them that bring them together for event?

What will appeal to them and what won’t? Are you out to impress or to shock? What do you want them to do as a result of your presentation?

Asking these questions and adapting your presentation accordingly will help you engage with your audience much more effectively, which in turn makes it more likely that they will buy your products or services.

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Who's in the audience?

Have you ever heard a presentation that felt it wasn’t meant for you? That perhaps the speaker was rolling out a talk they’d prepared for a different audience, and therefore didn’t quite resonate with you?

Context is such an important part of creating an engaging presentation.

Who’s in the audience? What are the common features that bring this group of people together?

Perhaps they all work in a similar industry, belong to the same network or organisation or have similar interests.

Whatever those commonalities are, make them your starting point for what to cover in your presentation. How much will they know already? How can you angle your content to resonate with them? Which story will they relate to?

Adding in just a phrase or two that let’s your audience see that you know who they are and how your content might relate to them makes a world of difference.


Why not a book a call with me now to see how I can help? 
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Do you wing it or do you prepare?

When you’re speaking in public, are you more likely to wing it or fully prepare?
I’ve seen several speakers come unstuck due, as they admitted, to lack of preparation.

Even if you’re usually able to wing it successfully, when sometimes extra nerves caused by a different situation, a change of circumstances or whatever kick in their usual style of winging it, speaking off the cuff or from the heart – however you like to describe it – failed them.

There’s no need to fully script your talk – unless you want to - and I would never advocate learning by heart, but having a plan and a simple structure gives you something to fall back on.

Know your key message, your key points, your opening and closing lines. It can be that simple.

Know those 4 things, keep to time and go for it – if that’s your preferred style.


For help with a simple structure, check out my 10 Top Tips


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What's your warm up routine?

What’s your warm-up routine before you deliver your talk?

Do you even have a routine?

If the idea is new to you, here are just some of the things you might want to include:

  1. Make sure your voice and facial muscles are warmed up and working well. It’s surprising how they can let you down if you don’t look after them. Making faces at yourself in the mirror and slide up and down the musical scale will help.
  2. Move! As close to the start of the event as possible, make sure you move in some way, to get your blood flowing and your mind awake.
  3. And breathe! As the time for your presentation approaches, keep focused on your breathing. Take some deep breaths to clear your mind of any anxiety and to calm any symptoms of nerves


For help with putting together your warm-up routine, do get in touch to arrange a chat.
You can book direct with the link below. 



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