Suggestions from Presenter Coach

Presenter Coach shows you a summary report at the conclusion of your rehearsal. 

Pace

Giving a presentation is a way to share an important message. Presenter Coach measures your speaking pace because:

  • Research indicates that when you speak too fast, audience members' comprehension and recall of the message is decreased. 

  • When you speak too slowly, the audience can lose interest in the material, which also can decrease comprehension and recall. 

  • Your pace is shown in the summary report, with a graph showing the rough variance of your speaking rate over time.

Variances in pace to be aware of:

  • Based on field study and past academic research, Presenter Coach recommends that presenters speak at a rate of 100 to 165 words per minute; this is the rate at which most audiences we've tested find it easiest to process the information they hear. But different people can speak comfortably and clearly at different rates, so your audience may be able to understand you clearly at a different rate. Over time, Presenter Coach will learn from your experience using it.

  • During the rehearsal, Presenter Coach shows your pace based on the most recent few seconds of speaking. These short intervals of measurement will likely vary over the course of your rehearsal.

  • If your computer doesn't have a strong network connection, there may be a lag in in the time that Presenter Coach hears your speech, which could affect its ability to accurately measure the speaking rate.

Recommendations:

  • Take a deep breath before you begin a new slide or section of your presentation.

  • Try to plan a suitable transitional phrase you can use as you move to the next slide, even something as simple as, "Let's move on," or "Let's talk about (the subject of the next slide)." This can help calm you as you proceed. 

  • Recognize that the passion you feel about your subject may cause you to speak rapidly or excitedly, but your audience may not be able to keep up with what you're saying in that case.

Filler words

When you tell your story to an audience, sounding confident helps make your message persuasive. Presenter Coach listens for filler words because:

  • Research indicates that a presenter who frequently uses filler words is perceived by the audience as less confident in his or her information. That, in turn, can make the audience less confident in the story being told. 

  • While using filler words is a normal part of speaking, it can become distracting or detrimental to your message if you use too many. Over time, Presenter Coach will learn from your experience using this feature.

Recommendations:

  • Pause if you need a moment to gather your thoughts. 

  • If you feel nervous, take a deep breath to slow yourself down.

  • To make yourself more comfortable with your material, make time to practice more before the actual presentation.

  • If you find yourself using filler words in transitional moments, write down some some transitional phrases you can use instead.

Sensitive phrases

Presenter Coach listens for culturally sensitive phrases in these areas: disability, age, gender, race, sexual orientation, mental health, sensitive geopolitical topics, and profanity

  • Research indicates that, in presentation settings, using culturally sensitive phrases helps everyone in the audience feel included. Your message comes across clearly without alienating audience members.

  • Here's an example in the "gender" category: The sentence, "We need more policemen to maintain public safety," would be considered by the audience to be male-biased. Coach recommends using the term "police officers" instead, as both males and females perform these duties.

  • In the modern workplace, using profanity in a formal presentation may alienate your audience.

Recommendations:

Presenter Coach gives you a gentle nudge by suggesting specific replacement terms for certain words. You, of course, make the final decision about what words to use in your presentation. 

Note: Presenter Coach transcribes your speech to text, then evaluates the text. Transcription mistakes will sometimes occur. Some non-inclusive language may be missed, or some language may be mistakenly perceived as non-inclusive. 

Types of bias reviewed by Presenter Coach:

Bias

Description

Disability

Emphasize the person first, rather than the disability.

Age

Referring to a person's age can be perceived as excluding or diminishing the person.

Gender

Gender-specific language may be perceived as excluding, dismissive, or stereotyping.

Sexual orientation

A person's sexual orientation should only be mentioned when necessary.

Race

Try to avoid obsolete and potentially offensive terms for racial or ethnic backgrounds.

Mental health

Try to avoid terms that could be offensive to people with mental-health related issues.

Ethnic slurs

Slurs are insinuations or allegations about someone that is likely to insult them or damage the person's reputation.

Originality

Research indicates that when a presenter repeats extended statements from the slide, audience  members tend to lose interest. They become more passive—less engaged with the presentation. When that happens, it's harder for them to remember your message.

Recommendations:

  • Don't read aloud long batches of text. Let the audience read it themselves. Summarize or explain the meaning of the text.

  • It's all right to repeat shorter bits of text from a slide, such as a title or bullet point.

Numbers on slides:

If you have a slide with a lot of numbers that you read aloud, Presenter Coach won't identify that action as reading the slide. More often than not, reading numeric data aloud helps make that information clear to the audience. 

Pitch

Speaking in monotone can make it harder for the audience to stay engaged or know what to focus on.

Recommendations

In order to keep their attention and improve your communication be sure to emphasize the key words and phrases by adjusting your volume and pitch. If you're working from notes or a script be careful not to just read from the script as that can lead you to be more monotone and less natural.

Speech Refinements

Note: Presenter Coach will only show speech refinements if it has suggestions for improvement.

There are several areas of speech refinement that Presenter Coach can advise you on. These include: wordiness, euphemisms, possessive/plural forms, agreement within noun phrases, and informal language.

Recommendations

  • Try to make your point clearly and concisely. Being overly wordy, using euphemisms, or some kinds of informal speech and colloquialisms can make it harder for your audience to understand.

  • Be mindful that your possessive/plural forms are consistent. Saying things like "He are an expert" or "I have an elephants" can undermine you with your audience.

Repetitive language

When you speak, you may use words and phrases repetitively without being aware of it; your audience, however, will be aware. Presenter Coach can help you identify these words and phrases so you can avoid overusing them and keep your audience more engaged.

Repetitive language differs from filler words in that the words or phrases you use repetitively are part of a sentence, rather than things you say to fill the space between sentences.

Presenter Coach uses a database of about 200 common words and phrases. It counts the instances of your use of the words or phrases in that database. If you use them too much, you'll see them called out in the Repetitive Language section of the Your Rehearsal Report window.

Some words in the database are checked for whether they occur at the beginning of a sentence. These are words like "basically," "nevertheless," or "technically." Other words are checked for whether they occur at the end of a sentence, such as "right." Most, however, are checked for their occurrence within a sentence.

Recommendations

  • Vary your word choice. Befriend your thesaurus. Instead of using a single word over and over, use synonyms. For example, rather that saying "awesome" multiple times, switch in words like "amazing" or "excellent." You'll not only give better presentations, you'll grow your vocabulary.

  • Practice often to see how you're improving. By becoming more aware of your overuse of some words, you can be on your guard against it when you give your presentation for real.

  • Focus on being more concise in your phrasing. Many of the words you overuse will likely be adjectives that you could do without. Starting phrases, like those mentioned above, are very close to being filler words. Being more concise is also more engaging for your audience. Make every word count.

  • Presenter Coach only checks for words and phrases in its database. So, you may still be using repetitive language with other words and phrases. Record your practice sessions and play them back. You may notice repetitive language that Presenter Coach didn't catch.

Body language

When you speak to an audience, nonverbal communication can have as much impact as the words you say. Your mannerisms, posture, eye contact, distance from the camera, lighting, and dress can affect the delivery of your message. Body language critiques in Presenter Coach provide feedback you can use to better engage with your audience and minimize distractions.

These critiques are only available for PowerPoint for the web.

The body language critiques have been modified for a stationary, seated position to help you prepare for your visual presentations.

Note that Microsoft doesn't save the video from your rehearsal. Your privacy is important to us.

Recommendations

  • Maintain a stationary position in front of your computer screen.

  • Avoid movements or objects that might cover or obscure your face, which includes your mouth and forehead.

  • Maintain eye contact and avoid looking away from the computer camera.

  • Only one critique appears in the live feedback at one time. If there are multiple critiques, they will appear sequentially.

  • Dress to avoid distraction; what you're wearing should not draw the focus of your audience.

  • Make sure your background is uncluttered to avoid distracting your audience.

  • Maintain a consistent distance from the camera and avoid being too close or too far away.

Important: The body language critiques are not turned on by default. If you want to use them, be sure to select Show body language feedback from the menu when you select Rehearse with Coach.

See Also

Rehearse your slide show with Presenter Coach

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