Become a Better Presenter by Becoming a Better Teacher

Think about it. As a Teacher, you are literally a professional, paid, public speaker. Are you good at it? Could you be better? In my experience, there are a number of things each one of us can do to increase our public speaking skills, both in the classroom and out. And what you learn, do, and apply in the classroom can have a great impact on how you speak at professional venues. Come learn the THREE core skills that you can use to take your presentations from blah to bravo.

What I’m going to talk about today is primarily sourced from a book we teach at Jeonju University: Speaking of Speech. I’ve personally found this book to be quite helpful in enhancing my own presentation skills, so I want to share some of the insights I’ve gained over the years.

And while the outline of this talk may follow the same topics covered in the book, I hope to be able to add enough additional material and tips to make it really worth your time.

Speaking of Speech

  1. Story Message = Content is (still) KING
  2. Physical Message = YOU are the presentation
  3. Visual Message = PPT is only a TOOL (not a crutch)

Story Message

If you dress up a dog like a princess, what do you have? It’s still a dog. Likewise, even the most well-designed and beautiful presentation will fall flat if there is not good CONTENT behind it.

Content is (still) KING – particularly in presentations (and teaching).

  1. Introduction = like the top bun of a hamburger – whets your appetite
    1. This is what you WILL say – provide an outline
  2. Body = the meat, cheese, and toppings – all the stuff that makes it good
    1. Say it!
  3. Conclusion = the bottom bun – pulls it all together, or else you’ll have a giant mess
    1. Remind them what you just said – don’t leave them to pull all the pieces back together themselves
  1. WHAT is the topic about? (Title slide)
  2. WHY are you talking about it? (Give them a good reason to listen. “What’s in it for me?”)
  3. Provide an OVERVIEW (Outline) of the whole talk
  1. Introduce = the spoon in an ice cream cup – let’s them know what this is about
  2. Explain = the ice cream in the cup – all the yummy stats, numbers, and figures
  3. Emphasize = the cherry on top – makes the whole thing better
    1. Tasty Transitions – and don’t forget to close each section and begin another in a clear, interesting way

Wrap it up by taking them back to the beginning. Remind the audience:

  1. WHAT you talked about
  2. WHY it is important
  3. HOW they can do something about it

Physical Message

Never forget: YOU are the presentation. The slides behind you are only a Visual Aid (“aid” = “helper” not “do-it-for-you-er”). Don’t rely on those as a crutch. In a pinch, you don’t even NEED the PPT. Rely on yourself to BE the presentation and use all the tools at your disposal.

  1. Posture
  2. Eye Contact
  3. Gestures
  4. Voice

Do you find you have bad posture? Or difficulty having good posture?

  1. Settle in first – don’t start speaking on your way up – settle in, feel the area, control the space, THEN start
  2. Play a mental movie – visualize in your head how the presentation SHOULD go – this mental priming will help you better be able to judge if things are going as they should be or not
  3. Strengthen your core and shoulders – some of the worst posture often comes from hunched shoulders or a bent back. Exercise! Strengthen those muscles when you DON’T need them so they’ll treat you right when you do need them

Do you have trouble making eye contact with the audience?

  1. Look (slightly) PAST the audience – look at their hair, or slightly over their heads, or at their noses – sometimes eye contact can be intimidating, but if you look at noses, you won’t feel intimidated by straight on eye contact
  2. Find a handful of people to connect with – you don’t need to look at EVERYONE, just find a few who are really engaged with what you’re saying and return your gaze to their eyes in sequence
  3. Direct your vision in sequence – start at the left side of the room, then the back, the right, and back to the left – decide on your preferred sequence and stick with it – it’ll take the guess-work out

Most Western speakers don’t seem to have much trouble with gestures, but here are three tips in any case:

  1. Don’t overdo it – gestures are best used to express the following:
    1. Numbers & Sequences (first, second, …)
    2. Emphasis & Focus (the key point…)
    3. Illustration & Location (to the left of…)
    4. Comparison & Contrast (on the other hand…)
  2. Body Language – remember you can also express yourself with the following:
    1. Body movements
    2. Facial expressions
  3. Consider yourself a performer – when you’re giving a speech, you’re out of your Comfort Zone. You need to express enthusiasm even if you don’t feel it, so act it. You are an actor on stage in front of an audience

Do you have trouble controlling your voice? Speaking too fast? Too quietly?

  1. Control your voice through rehearsal – the more you practice speaking through the same content, the more comfortable you become with it. You will also learn the jokes and stories that work best and those that don’t work so well
    1. Example 1: Chris Rock prepares by hitting up tons of small comedy clubs in a neighborhood before a big TV special, taking notes while performing
    2. Example 2: My Friday classes run much smoother than my Monday classes with the same book
  2. Slow down by avoiding coffee – this is a tip from a Keynote speaker at a Tech conference I saw recently. The combination of adrenaline (nerves) and caffeine will automatically speed up your speech
  3. Express greater enthusiasm through exercise – Do you find you have little energy on stage? Is it hard to be enthusiastic about something? Then push yourself physically (with exercise) off the stage so that you can have and produce more energy ON the stage

Visual Message

The Visual Message is LAST because it is NOT what makes a great presentation. PPTs are merely AIDS to help you. Don’t rely on them like a crutch. YOU are what really matters in a presentation.

The Visual Message ultimately boils down to 1) design, and 2) the tools you a) have and b) know how to use.

A tool is only as good as the person using it.

The best tool is the one you USE.

Let’s talk about Complexity and Design.

  1. Show only ONE idea per slide
    1. Less is more, bigger is better
    2. Using bullet points? 5×5 (7×7) – show at most 5 points with at most 5 words each
    3. Yes, this means you may need to increase the number of slides in your PPT, but it also will give you the opportunity to show transitions, animations, and highlighting in more interesting ways (with motion as you flip through the slides)
  2. Simplify
    1. Use high contrasting colors
    2. Use simple backgrounds
    3. Use transparency, contrast, brightness, shapes, and image cropping to your advantage
  1. Colors – Use a limited color palette
    1. Remember the 60-30-10 rule (like a man in a suit)
      1. 60% main color
      2. 30% secondary color
      3. 10% accent color
  2. Fonts – Understand the types and proper uses of fonts – use fonts to show Hierarchy
    1. Sans-serifs = Modern style, good for Titles in print, body copy on screen
    2. Serifs = Classic style, good for body copy in print, Titles on screen
    3. Scripts = Handwriting style – best used in limited quantities (if at all)
  3. Images –
    1. Learn which types of images are appropriate to use legally and where to find them
      1. Creative Commons – or even better CC0 Images

Life as a teacher begins the day you realize that you are always a learner.

Great leaders (teachers) work to sharpen [their tools].

Simon Sinek



  1. Templates:Google Slides Templates @
  2. Images: CC0 Images (29 Sites)
  3. Fonts: Google Fonts (available in Google Slides, or to Download for FREE)
  4. Color: Canva Color Theory 101
  5. Color Palettes:
  6. Book: How to Avoid Death by Powerpoint (David JP Phillips)
  7. Website: (David JP Phillips)

How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint by David JP Phillips:


Death by PowerPoint from Alexei Kapterev