Do you feel like you give the same type of presentations every time you get up to speak? You could be stuck in a presentation rut. It’s tempting to deliver our messages the same way we’ve always done it. You know, the way that feels comfortable and easy and familiar to us. But what opportunities are you missing by staying comfortable?

Great speakers are constantly adapting to new trends, trying out new techniques, and challenging themselves to keep growing. Ready to level up your presentation skills? Here are 4 ways to break out of that presentation rut you’ve been in.

1. Stop Relying on Extensive Notes

If you are someone who uses a lot of notes when you speak, try to get rid of those. Work to memorize your presentation, or at least the main points you’ll cover. This doesn’t mean you don’t need to practice. In fact, you’ll probably need to practice even more. But when you aren’t holding notecards or constantly checking your script, it frees you up to engage more fully with your audience.

Remember when you learned to ride a bike? The moment those training wheels finally came off was both frightening and freeing. It can the feel the same way when you are breaking out of your presentation rut. But you’ll never really know what you are capable of until you ditch the script and look up from your notes.

2. Incorporate Media

Think about using other channels to communicate for your next presentation. Maybe you include part of a song that helps illustrate a point or builds energy. Or you find or create a video that demonstrates something in a fresh way. If you aren’t someone who regularly uses images or even motion in your presentation media, this can be an exciting way to break that presentation rut. And the good news is, it’s not quite as scary as the first one.

Plus, the more variety you have in your presentation, the more the audience will enjoy it. Ted Frank is an author and an expert at telling stories. He thinks presentations should be more like the movies we love. Think about all the elements that work together to create a great movie. The writing, the acting, the soundtrack, the visuals. Frank encourages speakers to emulate movie-style storytelling to help make “their presentations quicker, more visual, and more emotionally effective.”

3. Include Other Voices

If yours is typically the only voice you hear during your presentation, find ways to get others involved. If you are referring to an expert, see if that person is willing to let you interview her and record video or audio. Or if you are telling a story that involves others, find ways to use their own voices. Let them tell their stories. The different textures and tones of other human voices will add interest to your presentation.

4. Involve the Audience

Some speakers have fallen into a presentation rut in that they don’t ever seek to involve the audience. Many speakers don’t ask for participation because they risk losing control. But audience members want to feel like they are part of the presentation, so find ways to involve them. Ask questions and allow for real-time responses. Or make space for quick collaboration or discussion among audience members. Writer Olivia Mitchell researches audience participation. She encourages speakers to avoid these common mistakes when involving the audience.

  • Asking for participation before you’ve warmed up the audience
  • Asking trite questions which don’t add value to the presentation
  • Not giving clear instructions
  • Asking unplanned, confusing questions
  • Asking people to answer out loud with no thinking or rehearsal time


Look. We get it. Trying new speaking strategies is scary. But the status quo won’t get you to the next level. These 4 tips will: stop relying on your notes, incorporate media, include voices other than your own, and involve your audience. Ready to climb out of that presentation rut?

Sometimes you need someone to give you fresh insight on your speaking style. At Ethos3, we can give you feedback and tips to master the art of public speaking.


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