Painless Presentations: The Proven, Stress-free Way to Successful Public Speaking

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 31 May 2013


Laskowski, L. (2013), "Painless Presentations: The Proven, Stress-free Way to Successful Public Speaking", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 21 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Painless Presentations: The Proven, Stress-free Way to Successful Public Speaking

Article Type: Suggested reading From: Human Resource Management International Digest, Volume 21, Issue 4

Lenny LaskowskiWiley,2012,ISBN: 9781118361771

Lenny Laskowski’s Painless Presentations: The Proven, Stress-free Way to Successful Public Speaking, contains 197 pages with eight chapters detailing the tools and techniques needed to deliver an effective, dynamic and engaging presentation.

Chapter 1 deals with the seven aspects of public speaking. Chapter 2 analyzes gathering information and materials. Chapter 3 outlines the structure of presentations. Chapter 4 deals with the use of visual aids. Chapter 5 explains various learning styles. Chapter 6 examines non-verbal messages. Chapter 7 discusses handling audience questions. Chapter 8 concludes with how to deliver an effective speech.

Lenny Laskowski advances the view that presentations should include an introduction, body and conclusion. Speakers should always analyze their audience and determine its specific needs and objectives.

The author lists classic symptoms associated with speaking anxiety. He outlines the dozen deadly dangers which are the reasons for poor presentations. He provides physical techniques to help to reduce speaking anxiety. He emphasizes the importance of transitions, which are an integral part of a smooth-flowing presentation.

Lenny Laskowski claims that there are three common mistakes presenters make with respect to transitions: they do not use transitions at all; they use transitions that are too short; and they use the same transition throughout the presentation, which becomes boring after a while. He advises that the ideal locations where humor can be easily added are at the beginning of the presentation and at the end or at the transition between major sections of the presentation. He suggests taking feedback at the end of every session and implores readers to introspect.

The author advises speakers to dress at least as well as the best-dressed member of the audience. They should not bury their hands in their pockets, play with the change in their pockets or with their jewelry. They should not hide behind the lectern. They should use their hands to describe as much as they can and never turn their backs to the audience.

Lenny Laskowski advises speakers to add punctuation to their presentations to help to relieve nervous tension. He groups gestures into four categories – descriptive, emphatic, suggestive and prompting.

He investigates some common faults of inexperienced or ineffective speakers. They include: gripping or leaning on the lectern; tapping fingers; biting or licking lips; frowning; adjusting hair or clothing; and head-wagging.

Lenny Laskowski concludes with general techniques for effective presentations. They are: find your objective; know your audience; be totally prepared; hook your audience instantly; plan your gestures and body movements; use good delivery techniques; use personal stories to support your messages and key points; maintain a sharp focus; speak persuasively; keep a positive attitude; add impact with visuals; and follow up for success.

The book is widely researched, with great ideas and insights. It is anecdotal and lively, with plenty of examples and illustrations. It contains visuals to reach out to audiences.

The book is written in simple language and with a conversational tone. This is a good resource for presenters who want to excel.

Reviewed by Professor M.S. Rao, founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India, and an experienced leadership author, educator, speaker, consultant and practitioner. He can be contacted at: e-mail:; blogs:;;; speaker wiki:

A longer version of this review was originally published in Training & Management Development Methods, Vol. 27 No. 3, 2013.