Refining presentation skills through body language, spoken voice and confidence

Short description

Are you nervous speaking in front of an audience? Do you want to improve your confidence while presenting?

Theatre training is not only for actors but for anyone seeking to refine their communication skills during presentations, lectures or speeches. This in-person 1.5 day interactive workshop offers novel, constructive strategies to help participants decrease nervousness and stage fright and to increase ease and confidence when presenting. By applying exercises based on theatre techniques, participants will experience:  

An analysis and practice of effective body language, spoken voice and breathing techniques to improve vocal and physical delivery, such as the importance of clarity of speech, stance, eye contact and gestures vs. habits when presenting; practice creative mini-presentation/s with feedback; and engage in storytelling skills and creative group improvisations. The goal is to promote comfort on stage, free up the imagination and effectively apply voice skills and body language techniques to engage an audience.

How does this course work

This practical interactive course is comprised of mini lectures, short discussions, hands-on activities, as well as partner and group work – focusing on developing effective voice skills and body language techniques to engage an audience. The goal is for you to develop confidence and the skills needed for effective presentations, public speaking events, interviews or meetings in a professional setting.

Please wear comfortable clothing and flexible flat footwear that you can move in for both days.

Participants are encouraged to ask questions or for clarification, as needed. 

Please have any book or textbook in your main subject area available during both sessions to practice reading aloud or as information to use for a brief presentation. 

Day 1

In the first workshop session we will discover and practice: 

  • The vocabulary of the voice in public speaking: Elements of the voice; breathing exercises to warm up the voice, the importance of using vocal variety and how to decrease nerves
  • How and why to be aware of the importance of clear diction with exercises to improve clarity of diction – using an appropriate speed for our listeners and using vocal variety
  • The vocabulary of body language and gestures: Effective body language, posture, gestures and the importance of eye contact.
  • The application of speaking and reading skills as well as body language techniques, eye contact and gestures in brief presenting activities – both individually and in small groups with constructive feedback from peers and the session leader.

Day 2 

In the second session we will discover and practice:

  • Storytelling skills as important tools for enhancing your public speaking and presentations: Why stories are effective when communicating with others and how to integrate brief stories to engage your audience – especially when using these together with the effective voice skills and body language techniques learned in the first session. There will be individual opportunities and group work with constructive feedback from peers and the session leader. 

Target group

This workshop is useful for most PhD candidates.


What you will learn

By the end of the workshop participants will: 

  • have more confidence in their public speaking and presenting skills. 
  • know how to warm up the voice, to decrease nervous tension and to use the voice effectively.
  • know how to use eye contact, gestures and body language.
  • know the elements of being an engaging presenter or public speaker in a professional setting. 
  • be ready to practice the skills and techniques from both days of the workshop by presenting to peers and seeking low stakes opportunities to present their research, before high stakes opportunities. 


  • Jo Tomalin is Professor of Theatre Arts at San Francisco State University where she teaches acting, voice skills, voice-over techniques, storytelling and movement. She is also a stage director, a theatre reviewer in the USA and the UK and has taught voice-over skills at Pixar Animation Studios in California. Jo trained at École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, where she obtained a Certificat Professionnel and completed the Laboratoire d'Etude du Mouvement (Physical Acting, Masks, Movement, Scenography);  Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, RADA, London (Classical Acting and Voice); Trinity College of Dramatic Art, London, ATCL, (Classical Acting and Voice); Goldsmith's College, University of London, UK, Teaching Credential (Education, Laban Movement Analysis and Choreography); PhD Capella University (Education with a specialist in Instructional Design for Online Learning).