Prepping for the Talk

Should I use ice breakers or jokes to start my talk?
Presenters often want to use a joke or ice breaker to lighten the mood and relax the group. The group is not nervous, you, the presenter, are. Jokes can be risky; they can offend or can simply not be funny. Have you ever been to a talk where the joke did not go over well? Probably yes. Jokes that do not work leave the presenter in an even worse situation. There are less risky ways to get the group ‘on your side’ and engaged, including smiling, making sustained eye contact, opening with a story or genuine personal connection to the group.

How do I stop feeling nervous before/during a talk?
You may never stop feeling nervous, but there are ways to control it. Nerves are usually the manifestation of energy, and you need that energy – it just needs to be channeled. Performers in all fields use the following techniques successfully to manage nerves: “pre-game” rituals (like reviewing notes, taking a walk, setting the stage) relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or a few minutes alone, or visualization techniques, where you visualize the talk going well, the audience smiling and laughing, the concluding questions and the applause.

Video Learning

Skills to Become a Dynamic Presenter
Fostering More Interaction
#1 Tip to Become a Great Presenter

Ask a Trainer

Have a specific question or challenge? Use our convenient online form, and one of the Point Taken experts will respond with an answer via email.

    Get Tips

    Point Taken shares tips and techniques with students and clients on our email newsletter list. You’ll learn everything from listening skills to meeting facilitation techniques to time management tips. Join today!

    Recommended Reading

    Trainers: Running more Engaging, Effective Training Sessions

    • Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century by Colin Rose and Malcom J Nicholl
    • Creating Significant Learning Experiences by L. Dee Fink

    • Creativity Games for Trainers by Robert Epstein
    • Critical Writing Warm-up Activities – The Daily Spark by Spark Publishing
    • 50 One-Minute Tips for Trainers by Carrie Van Daele
    • How to Run Seminars and Workshops by Robert L. Jolles
    • 50 Creative Training Openers and Energizers by Bob Pike and Lynn Solem
    • How to Measure Training Results by Jack Phillips and Ron Drew Stone

    Books that Make You Think

    • 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries and Laura Ries
    • The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
    • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
    • Five Star Mind Games & Puzzles to Stimulate Your Creativity by Tom Wujec
    • Outliers by Malcom Gladwell
    • Wake Up Your Creative Genius by Kurt Hanks and Jay A. Parry

    Interpersonal Communication: Work Better with Others

    • Change Your Life and Everyone In It by Michele Weiner Davis
    • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    • First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You by Ann Demarais, Ph. D., and Valerie White, Ph. D.
    • The Social Styles Handbook by Larry Wilson

    Presentation Skills: Become a More Engaging Speaker

    • Even a Geek can Speak by Joey Asher
    • Get to the Point by Elizabeth Danziger
    • The Big Book of Icebreakers by Edie West
    • The Social Styles Handbook by Larry Wilson
    • A Scientist’s Guide to Talking with Media by Richard Hayes and Daniel Grossman

    Cross Cultural Communication

    • Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway
    • Managing Across the Borders by Christopher A. Bartlett and Sumantra Ghosha

    Better Client Relationships: Create Better Outcomes for Your Clients

    • Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service by Kristin Anderson and Ron Zemke
    • Flawless Consulting by Peter Block
    • The 5th Discipline Field Book by Peter Senge, et al.
    • Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury

    Leadership: Using Your Communication to Lead

    • Crazy Times Call for Crazy Organizations by Steven L. Feinberg
    • The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
    • Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar
    • The Tom Peters Seminar by Tom Peters
    • A Passion for Excellence: The Leadership Difference by Tom Peters and Nancy Austin