Since spoken presentations—even simple ones like telling your boss what you’ve discovered about a certain account or a prospective investment—are far more common than written ones, and at least as disastrous, they deserve a whole manual to themselves. For the present, however, be content with 11 general rules.

Rule 1. Know What You’re Talking About

As painful as it is to hear poor speakers, it’s still worse to hear polished ones who don’t know their subjects. No amount of beautiful oratory, dramatic gestures, and other such baloney can cover up ignorance or unpreparedness. Spend 95 percent of your time on your subject, the other 5 percent on the presentation.

Rule 2. Don’t Read and Don’t Memorize

You are talking to somebody. If you read ...

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