I've been a really good public speaker for a long time. It came pretty naturally to me. And it turns out that the same skills make me a good teacher. So one of the things I could always do when my marketing business was slow, was set up a couple of classes and teach people public speaking skills.
Really, the key thing to do is Bring Fewer Notes.
People like to write out what they are going to say, and then read off the cards. This is bad. Most people are not actors, and suck at reading lines. In addition, written English is much different than spoken English, and if you write something down, and then speak it, it is going to sound weird. To both you, and your audience.
The best thing to do is to give yourself bullet points you want to hit. The 3 or 4 points you want people to remember when they walk out of the room.
Take a single blank sheet of paper. Write the name of your talk at the top. Write the names of people/orgs you want to thank.
Write a two-sentence intro that you will practice, and repeat verbatim in front of the crowd.
Write your 3 or 4 key points in big sharpie, spaced evenly down the page, with many lines in between each of them. Leave two inches at the bottom of the page.
In a lighter pen, make notes of key phrases or ideas you want to hit in between each bullet point, to tie them together. So your page should look like this:
(A brief, 2 sentence description of what people are going to leave with today. Work on this phrasing. Write it carefully. Rewrite it. Remove jargon. Make it simple.) "Thank you to Dr. Smith, and the School of Herbology for the opportunity to speak to you all today. My work over the last two years has been focused on hybridizing oranges with grapes, to make an edible orange peel."
- pause -
Topic 1: Hybrids attempt to bring the good traits of two different things together, into a single, hybrid thing.
- Dr. Karlsen's research from Instituit de van Voors.
- Tangelos. Pluots.
- Topic 2: Problems with hybridization.
- Johnathan the capybara/penguin.
- Monetization/Research funding
Topic 3: Cellular hybridization with CRISPR
- blah blah blah
(This 2-3 sentence ending should wrap up the three things you want people to remember from your talk, your name, and thank the people who invited you to speak.) "Thank you again to Dr. Smith, the school of Herbology, and to you all, for your attention. In closing, my name is Professor Blackbootz of Quirm, and I am enthusiastic about Orange/Grape hybridization; a win/win for the market, and for Herbology, and the underlying techniques will allow us to create new foods that defend against climate, pest, and other environmental problems. Thank you. I will now take any questions..."
This model works for a couple of reasons: You already KNOW what you are talking about. You talk about it every single day. Without notes. So writing ALL of your words/talk down on paper simply gives you several other things to worry about, than your message. Am I reading too fast? Did I pronounce that right? Woah... those words sound weird together. Wait... did I already read that line? Aren't I supposed to make eye contact? Oh crap... where was I?
The bullet points help you present a story with a beginning, middle, and end, without a lot of extra fluff and distraction. Hit the points. Stitch them together with a couple of sentences to move from one thought to the next one, down the page, until you get to the bottom.
Writing out the Intro helps alleviate the butterflies and nervousness that ALL of us get when we walk up to the microphone. You know this part by heart. You have repeated it in the mirror at home, and in your head, over and over, for a couple of weeks. You KNOW this. And it is WRITTEN RIGHT THERE, so if you clutch up, just read what you wrote down.
Presentation-wise, over time you will know how long to spend on each section of the talk, as well. So if you have a clock or watch, you can check to make sure you aren't going over, by simply getting to the middle of the page, and checking to see how much time you have left. "I'm half way down the page, and half way through my time. Perfect."
Finally, don't go in to detail! This is a presentation, not a lab. Give them the highlights. Then, at the end, give them time to ask questions. EVERYONE is better at answering questions about what they do, than they are at presentations. So keep the "presenting" part short, and the Q&A section longer.
This way, you also engage the crowd. They aren't just tuned out and not listening. They are actively participating, which makes YOU feel good, as the presenter.
I hope those suggestions help you out with your next presentation!!
(PS - I can also help make your PowerPoint presentation interesting, and not suck.)