Here are some things you can try this year to improve your skills, your timing, your confidence, your connection, and your overall effectiveness.
Take a lesson from my colleague Del Heglund, who has decided to start singing his 30-second introductions (aka commercials) at our networking meetings: He is not afraid to try new things, especially if it will make him more memorable than the next guy!
1. Videotape or audio record yourself. Then watch and critique with sound on and sound off.
2. Smile more.
3. Use a countdown timer.
4. Give yourself an extra week to practice.
5. Come early and leave late.
6. Check your venue in advance.
7. Ask yourself: "What would I like to see and hear if I were an audience member?"
8. Embrace your uniqueness.
9. Focus on connection, not perfection. (And here are 9 ways to do it.)
10. Bring props.
11. Lose the jargon, clichés and overused business lingo. (Here are the most overused buzzwords in LinkedIn members' profiles.)
12. Find more ways to practice your speaking. Make opportunities if they are not falling into your lap.
13. Tell more stories.
14. Try adding humor.
15. Stop wasting the audience's time with grandiose thanks and intros at the beginning of your presentation.
16. Anticipate questions the audience will ask and prepare for them.
17. Adopt the practice of One idea per slide. Not ten tiny bullet points. One idea per slide.
18. And while you're at it, here are five ways to stop reading from your slides.
19. Make your ideas more sticky.
20. Punch up your openings and closings.
21. Encourage audience involvement. Give opportunities for participation, activities, movement and questions.
Pick one or a couple of these to focus on over the next couple of months to freshen up and add some shine to your old routine.