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Master your presentation skills

Judging by the enthusiastic note-taking of attendees at Monday’s Effective Oral Presentation session, we all need advice on public speaking.

According to a survey provided by the speakers beforehand, overcoming nervousness, making content interesting, and assessing what the audience really wants to know are the biggest challenges in making a speech.

It also found that energy and showing interest were some of the most effective qualities in a presenter.

While humor was also listed as one of the characteristics, the speakers cautioned not to overdo it.

“You want the audience to remember the substance of your talk, not just that it was one great show,” said Michael Cassels, a partner at Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal in Buenos Aires.

Mei-Lan Stark, senior vice president of Fox Entertainment Group in Los Angeles, said the first thing to do is to go to different presentations, see what you respond to, and then try it on for size.

Referring to keynote speaker John Anderson’s speech from the opening ceremony, Stark said reading from a script can sound natural for some people, but is difficult for her.

“For me, I have catch phrases or pictures that trigger a story I want to tell,” she said. “If it doesn’t fit, find another style.”

Relying on PowerPoint may not always be the best option either. “Know when not to use slides,” said David Bernstein, a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York, who added that reading from slides is a no-no. Showing images of opposing trademarks when discussing a case may be helpful.

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