12 Qualities of a great presenter


All great presenters have certain skills and qualities that make them memorable and effective. They all know what it takes to connect and engage with an audience, but just as importantly, they also know what not to do when presenting.

Great presenters are not born, they are made. It takes a lot of hard work and practice, but essentially with the right amount of knowledge and execution, every one of us can become an effective presenter.

The following are 12 qualities that all world-class presenters exhibit:

1. Body Language

Using the right body language will help you engage with your audience. Here are some examples of positive body language:

Open palms – showing open palms while presenting is a great way to signal to your audience that you are open, truthful, and have nothing to hide. When watching a good presenter start a presentation by telling a personal story, you may find that their palms automatically open while speaking. This suggests they are being open and their authentic self.

Eye contact – Effective presenters never let their gaze wander to the floor, walls or out the window! They sweep their gaze across the room and make eye contact with people in their audience. This helps build rapport and a connection.

Posture – Good presenters are always aware of their posture while presenting. They keep their posture upright and position their shoulders towards the audience. They face the audience as much as possible as this makes them look confident and it invites the audience in.

Facial expressions – A smile is always a great way to greet the audience and start a presentation. In addition, facial expressions can also help presenters bring their presentations (or stories) to life by using them to communicate a depth of emotions.

2. Storytelling

All accomplished presenters are great storytellers. They know how to tell a story that smoothly connects the audience to a specific point or topic that is comprised within the presentation content. Skilled presenters are also aware that there is no better way to engage and capture people’s attention than through a story. It’s the stories that presenters tell that inspire and engage an audience.

3. Passionate about their topic

Caring about a subject and having a passion for it is vital to being an effective presenter. It’s the passion within a presenter that shines through and grabs the audience. It creates a desire within the audience member to want to learn more about the subject. They become engaged and drawn to the topic. If a presenter is not inspired by the topic they are speaking about this would be evident to everyone watching and listening.

4. Know their topic well

Being an expert in a particular field and having in-depth knowledge helps a presenter deliver their message with confidence and ease. The more you know about what you are talking about the more confident you will be. All good presenters are able to confidently answer any audience questions after a presentation and offer helpful additional advice.

5. They practice

We’ve all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect.” Rehearsing a presentation ahead of time ensures the presenter is comfortable with the content. When a presenter knows the content of the presentation thoroughly they are less likely to make a mistake or forget key pieces of information. Knowing the content allows a speaker to then put more focus on other important areas such as perfecting their storytelling and body language skills.

6. They are confident

Exuding confidence goes hand in hand with being a great presenter. As mentioned in the previous points, confidence comes from knowing your subject well, being an expert in your field and being properly prepped. A presenter’s confidence shines through in many ways from their body language, gestures and voice.

7. Connect with their audience

Connecting with the audience is probably one of the most important things a presenter can do or hope to achieve. A connection can be formed in the following various ways.

The presenter can:

  • engage with audience members by moving closer to them
  • speak directly to the audience members
  • ask the audience questions
  • make light-hearted jokes

Tip: The presenter can connect more easily by learning about the audience ahead of time and relating the presentation content to them.

When a presenter successfully connects with the audience this allows for greater ease of communication. The presenter will then attract and occupy the audience’s attention throughout the whole presentation.

8. Know their audience

Great presenters understand and know their audience. This is important because the audience demographic essentially dictates a person’s presentation style and presentation content.

When a presenter is well versed in their audience they will know what their pain points are and can include a certain amount of empathy and understanding in their presentation style. This helps the audience connect with and trust the presenter.

9. Are charismatic & engaging

There is nothing worse than having to sit through a boring presentation. An audience wants to be charmed, entertained, motivated, educated and engaged. They essentially want to feel something. Charismatic and engaging presenters know how to:

  • talk to their audience (not at them)
  • show their audience they understand or relate to them
  • show their audience they understand their pain points
  • give their audience solutions
  • humour or entertain their audience
  • ask their audience for opinions
  • invite questions
  • are authentic with them

10. Have highly organised presentations

You will find that great presenters are all highly organized. They arrive early, set up on time, and have sleek and solid presentation decks to support them and showcase to their audience.

Effective presenters have decks that are of high quality. They are created by observing the following best practices:

  • They work from a template
  • Their presentations are on-brand
  • Include only the necessary information and key points
  • Limit the amount of text on slides
  • Limit the number of slides in the presentation
  • Use the right contrast of colours
  • Include impactful visuals such as images, graphs, iconography and infographic.

Taking the time to create a visually appealing and “on point” deck not only keeps an audience engaged but also relays to them that they are important and respected.

11. Don’t use filler words

You would be hard-pressed to find an accomplished speaker that uses filler words. Filler words such as um, er, ah, and like, stand out to an audience and give the impression that a presenter is nervous, lacks confidence and doesn’t know their subject matter well.

To remove filler words from their vocabulary, good presenters rehearse beforehand and ensure they know their subject matter and presentation content well. Removing filler words can be challenging but it can be done with practice and experience.

Some presenters are experts at replacing filler words with a short pause. Pauses can help them emphasise certain key points and can also allow them to take a breath, have a sip of water, move to a different position on the stage or move to the next slide.

12. They arrive early

Arriving early can say a lot about a presenter. Here is a short list of benefits of arriving early before a presentation:

  • It indicates the presenter is organised
  • It allows plenty of time for set-up to prevent any hiccups (with lighting, microphone and equipment)
  • Allows time to familiarise with the stage or presenting area
  • Enables the presenter to meet and greet audience members as they arrive
  • Allows the presenter to prepare mentally and ease their nerves
  • Shows respect towards the audience and the event organisers

Knowing that all the above has been taken care of well before the presentation starts gives the presenter a sense of reassurance and confidence.

On the other hand, arriving late can show a lack of respect, indicate you are not well prepared, and some people may even see it as a sign of arrogance.

To Conclude

Throughout our lifetime, a lot of us will sit through many presentations. Most presentations will remain somewhere in the back of our minds. But a few will be poignantly remembered because they impacted us in some way.

If we were to ask ourselves why we found a particular presentation to be a standout, the answer would probably be that we were able to emotionally connect with it and the presenter was memorable by being a confident and engaging storyteller.

If you want to be a great presenter, all it takes is practice and performance to master all the above skills along with watching and learning from other world-class presenters. After a while, you may be the one that audiences will remember.

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