Presentation Skills Definition and Glossary of Terms

MBM Glossaries: Presentation Skills Definition

What does it mean to have good Presentation Skills? You can read our Presentation Skills definition in this glossary. You will also find a list of terms frequently used when discussing Presenting. For an in-depth guide to how you can develop your skills and improve your presentations, read our free Ultimate Guide to Presentation Skills.

5 P’s

The 5P’s in Presentation Skills refer to 5 aspects that the speaker can utilise to improve their voice:

  1. Project: Directing the speaker’s voice to the audience. And to properly project, take a deep breath. This, in particular, gives the voice more power and prevents it from sounding shaky or hoarse.
  2. Pause: A meaningful silence is great in captivating an audience’s attention and is a better alternative than using fillers such as ‘uhms’ when thinking.
  3. Pitch: The highs and lows that take out the monotony of a presenter’s voice. And frequently changing pitch keeps the audience engaged and avoids boredom.
  4. Pace: The rate at which the speaker delivers their words.
  5. Pronounce: Clarity and how crisp a speaker enunciates the words.

10/20/30 Rule

A presentation guideline famously advocated by Guy Kawasaki. And it states that for a presentation to be successful, it must not have more than 10 slides, does not exceed 20 minutes, and will not use a font size smaller than 30 points.

Art and Science of Delay

This is a concept by Frank Partnoy in his book of the same title. And the concept argues that consciously delaying decision making can lead to better outcomes.

Apathetic Audience

This is a type of audience that feels indifferent about the subject being presented to them and does not want to be involved.


The people who are receiving the speaker’s message. In other words, they are the target of the message.


How a group of ideas make sense.


Shortening an idea or message to as few words as possible without losing meaning.

Communication Skills

The ability to effectively convey thoughts and at the same time, understand ideas by other people.

Comparison and Contrast

Presents two ideas and identifies qualities that are similar and different from each other. This tactic is especially effective in finding common ground with a hostile audience.


The ability to share someone else’s suffering and become motivated to help relieve or help ease their situation.


During a presentation, a speaker’s energy fuels the message. And it shows the passion and enthusiasm behind it.

Entertaining Speech

This kind of speech is the most difficult to pull off and only the most seasoned speakers or comedians can conduct this successfully. However, when it is done right, it captivates and engages the audience.

Eye Contact

Creating a connection with an audience by catching their gaze. But proper eye contact is understanding when to hold a connection while avoiding awkward staring.


Mastery of a given language. In particular, this includes being able to deliver a native-like speech while utilising the proper intonation, stress, interjections that sound natural.


Hand or head movements that are meant to emphasise the speaker’s presentation.

Hostile Audience

When the receivers of a message have negative thoughts on the topic being presented. Often they have enough prior knowledge to form a negative opinion. Nevertheless,  they respond better to a speaker who has a friendly approach and tries to find similarities they can both agree on.


The Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument is a psychometric test used to define preferences in thinking. And identifying these preferences helps the presenter fine-tune their speech to create a balance that speaks to the 4 areas: facts, feelings, concepts, and structure.


The ability to provoke laughter, lighten the mood or amuse an audience.


The effect the presenter and their speech impart on an audience.

Informative Speech

A kind of speech that invites an audience to learn something new. In particular, it contains useful information that is usually foreign or unfamiliar to the intended audience.

J. Dan Rothwell

Communication theorist and author of ‘Practically Speaking’ and several communication-related books.


Specific technical words that a group of people often uses in a professional setting. These are words commonly used in a field of speciality, for example, engineering, that may sound foreign to non-specialists or laypeople.

Language Barrier

Difficulties in communication brought about by differences in language, dialects, and jargon that affect how a group of people understand and convey the message.


Using a phrase that is used to describe one thing to describe something entirely different. And this helps to add colour and sometimes humour to a speech when used appropriately.


When a speaker does not change pitch, their voice takes on a single, unchanging tone that begins to sound disengaged and unenthusiastic.

Mixed Audience

The recipients of the message may include the apathetic, hostile, uninformed, and favourable audience. And therefore a speaker must carefully choose their words to help better create a connection with a diverse audience.


Moving one’s head up and down to confirm or affirm an idea. Indeed, it is a positive response from an audience that indicates they understand or are agreeing with what is presented to them. A speaker, on the other hand, can use nodding to establish rapport and acknowledge audience members.


The time and cause for an event. It can be happy, solemn, serious, or relaxed. This will greatly determine the voice, approach, and the appropriateness of humour a speaker must use to captivate an audience.


Someone who delivers a speech in public. Some of the best public speakers in history include Aristotle, Charles Dickens, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. These speakers were able to persuade and change the beliefs and ideas of their listeners.

Persuasive Speech

A type of speech that aims to change or cause an audience to question beliefs and seek further information on the subject.


In presentations, it is more powerful to take a moment to breathe and regroup instead of stuttering or informing an audience of a mistake.


A group of individuals in the audience that assist the speaker in engaging the rest of the audience. These can be team members, family, or friends. They will likely nod, clap, make eye contact, and ask meaningful questions to influence the rest of the listeners.


How you position your spine while standing, sitting, or even lying down. Posture can convey confidence, uncertainty, power or even lack of it.

Power Stance

Utilising confident body language, including proper posture and avoiding fiddling to exude an air of confidence. It demonstrates the speaker’s assertiveness and plays a part in convincing the audience that they are knowledgeable about the subject.

Power Words

These are short, simple, and clear words that resonate with an audience. They have more power in engaging an audience compared to long-winded sentences.

Presentation Skills

Presentation Skills have always been tied closely with communication skills. To be able to communicate ideas to a large crowd and create a change of heart or mind is a valuable skill. Public speaking was studied as early as 2500 years ago in Athens, where men were required to deliver speeches as part of their public duties.
Today, Presentation Skills continue to be one of the strongest and most valuable assets. They help communicate thoughts, motivate others, and disseminate information. In the workplace, effective Presentation Skills help personal career progression as well as contribute towards overall business productivity.


The reason behind a presentation. It identifies how the speaker wants the listeners to think and feel after the event.


In the topic of Presentation Skills, asking meaningful questions allow speakers to establish a connection with their audience.


Establishing a positive connection between the speaker and the audience.

Standing Ovation

A response from an audience where they stand while applauding to show strong approval of a presentation.

Stage Fright

Anxiety or nervousness felt by a speaker or performer when entering the stage and facing a crowd.


Adding stories to the speech. A speaker’s ability to breathe life into a story makes a presentation compelling and memorable.

Uninformed Audience

When the message recipients have very limited knowledge about the topic.

Visual Aids

These are items that help an audience better visualise what is being discussed. These can come in the form of PowerPoint slides, videos, photos, or even physical objects.


The sound that is formed when a person’s vocal cords vibrate. In Presentation Skills, voice can shape passion and how it will engage the audience.

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