7 ways to make your point stick when presenting

It’s Friday, you’re the last speaker on a long day, the room is hot and stuffy and your audience can almost smell the freedom of the weekend.

There’s no tougher scenario in which to give a memorable presentation.

So how do you make your points stick?

Here’s seven great ways to make your point when public speaking.

1. Pause

Taking a nice long pause after you make that killer point is a sure-fire way to let it sink in with your audience. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but a short silence highlights to your audience the importance of the previous point, and gives them time to contemplate and absorb it before you start sending more information their way.


Have you ever noticed how politicians usually make their points three times? Sometimes they repeat things three times just to give them emphasis. It’s not just Obama and Cameron that can use this technique – you can too – using simple repetition (eg. never, never, never press the red button!) to make your point stand out.

3. Hand jiveHand Jive image

Ok, so don’t literally hand jive, but your hands can help you to deliver your point. Imagine you are stating a very important list of three things that your audience must remember. Use your hands to signal ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ to your audience so that they can clearly see which point we’re on. If their minds are wandering off, the movement of your hands will help bring the focus back to you!

4. Use a startling fact

Nothing grabs our attention like a startling fact. It can put a bland point into blunt context. We all also like a great stat to share with our friends! Want to make a point about the usefulness of good bacteria? Did you know, 10% of human dry weight comes from bacteria!

5. Use an incredible image


In theory, the very best slides are those that help to deliver our message and don’t detract from us as speakers. However, I truly believe that it is ok to be upstaged by your slide if it makes your point and provides a jaw dropping moment of realisation for your audience. Like this image, to make the point that our world has immense powers of destruction. Could you have said it any better?!

6. Question your audience

It’s easy for our audience to switch off when we’re talking. After all, we’re the speaker and they see their role as just the listener. Ask a rhetorical question, not only to remind the audience that they are an active participant in your speech or presentation, but also to get them thinking. For maximum effect combine the question with a pause of a good enough length to let your audience process an answer.

7. Tell a story

Finally, the most effective way to make a point is to tell a story. Stories have been used as a method of passing messages and lessons to audiences since the days when we lived in caves. A well told story allows us to connect with what is important, make sense of our world and grasp realities or ideas that might currently be alien to us – all necessities for making our points stick!

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Rich Watts is the UK Business Speaker of the Year and a past JCI National Public Speaking champion. He setup and now runs Rich Public Speaking providing presentation skills and public speaking training.

One response on “7 ways to make your point stick when presenting

  1. Claire

    Wow, could really have done with reading this before a big presentation two weeks ago. Think my excessive nervous hand jiving was more distracting than helping me underline my points! Will think more about how to use my hands in a positive way next time around …. Thanks for the info Rich!

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