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Whether you’re holding a presentation at work, explaining what you do at a networking event, or selling yourself to a potential employer, you’re conveying a message. If that message isn’t conveyed clearly and effectively, your time is wasted and your message is lost. Are you focusing 100% of your preparation time on the CONTENT of your message? If so, you’re not alone, but you’re not doing yourself a service. Only 7% of your message is received through your content. The other 93% is through your tone and message. If you’re completely ignoring these things, you’re hurting your message. “Your tone and your body language are important,” said Doug Melder, a presentation coach at Own The Room, a communication skills training company. “So important [that] it can either enhance or betray your message.” So, does that mean you should spend 93% of your time on tone and body language and only 7% of your time on content? Absolutely not. Content is still king, and without good content, your message is sure to fail. Instead of going to that extreme, bring your content preparation time down from 100% to 80%, before your next presentation, introduction, or meeting, according to Melder. This should give you plenty of time to focus on your tone and body language. You always have enough content, he said. Spend that extra time focusing on your tone and your message. That will help ensure that your message is enhanced, not betrayed. Your message is important, no matter what you're trying to convey to someone. If you don't articulate it effectively, your message will get lost. Are you making this mistake with your message? What have you done to overcome it? Will you implement this strategy?

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Everyone has a reputation as a speaker. Yes, even you. Even if you don’t make a living presenting, you have a reputation as a speaker based on your ability to share a concise and clear message with your audience. But even if you’re not the best presenter, a simple technique can help you improve your speaking ability. Do you find yourself saying “um,” “basically,” or “like” when you talk to others? This is called “weak language,” and it can bring down your presentations and conversations. "Every sound, syllable, or noise that comes out of our mouth either helps our message or hurts our message," said Tim Fortescue, a presentation coach at Own The Room, a communication skills training company. "There's nothing in the middle." So, the one of the most effective things you can do to change your speaking habits for the better is to eliminate this weak language. Obviously, this is easier said than done. However, there’s a little trick you can use that will help you ditch these filler words: pause. Learn how to pause when you’re talking to others. If you can’t think of what to say next, instead of saying “um,” don’t say anything. Take the pause. Relax. Don’t be afraid of the silence. If you want to start incorporating this habit, the first thing to do is identify what your “word” is when you speak. Is it “like’? Or “so”? Or “um”? What is it? Understanding what your “word” is will make you more aware of when you use it. And being aware of when you use that word will allow you to stop, relax, and plan about your next thought. It will allow you to pause. If you can do this for four days, you’ll build better habits and become a better speaker. What's your reputation as a speaker? Want to increase your communication skills? Check out our course "How To Improve Your Communication Skills At Work" to become a better communicator and learn how to work with others more effectively.

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Think about the last time you had a presentation, led a meeting, or pitched an idea. Was your audience fully engaged? Were people leaning forward, enchanted by your delivery, and completely fascinated at what you were telling them? ...Or were they looking off into space, eyes glazed over, clearly not listening to what you were saying? When you're presenting, part of your job is to captivate your audience. If you want to become a great presenter, you must learn how to condition your audience before you open your mouth. If the people you're speaking to aren't fully engaged, they won't take away the important points you bring up during the presentation. Marie Wedderburn, a presentation coach at Own The Room, a communication skills training company, warns that your audience will mentally step out if you don't grab them from the very beginning. So, if you feel like you could do a better job captivating people with your words, try this: next time you hold a presentation, a pitch, or a meeting, start with a scene. Share something that will captivate your audience. Whether it's a joke, a story, a compelling statistic, or something else, find a "hook" that will grab people's attention and hold it. Your goal, as a presenter, is to condition your audience so everyone is "waiting for you to open your mouth," said Wedderburn. Keep them engaged. Harness their interest. If you can achieve this in the first few seconds of your presentation, meeting, or pitch, you're more likely to hold attention throughout. How will you start your next presentation? What has captivated you in the past? Watch the video above to learn more about this presentation tip.

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Some employers require shortlisted candidates to give a presentation as part of the screening process. The thought of giving such a presentation can be daunting, but it can also be a perfect way to showcase just what a great fit you are for the vacant position. Make your presentation as impressive as your test and interview results, and you’re more likely to be the winning candidate. Related: 3 Pre-Interview Confidence Boosters If you’re not used to presenting (and even if your are!), it’s very common to feel nervous at the prospect. This is natural - it’s the “flight-or-fight response” you’ve probably heard about: the body’s automatic and unconscious reaction to anything perceived (rationally or not) as a threat. Restless motion, shaking hands, and other tremors, sweating, difficulty speaking - these are some of the more common manifestations. Fortunately, there are a number of fundamental, guiding beliefs - coupled with practical, doable actions - for getting these involuntary physiological reactions under control. Let’s look at three of them...

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