Tips for Toolbox Talks

This topic is especially for the supervisors who are always “on the spot” for crew talks and other presentations. Here are a few useful tips to make your presentation more memorable…. and hopefully put you more at ease!

BEGIN WITH THE UNEXPECTED: A funny story, a quotation, an interesting statistic. Be ENTHUSIASTIC about your subject. Remember to let your crews know “what’s in it for them”.

  • Use (appropriate) HUMOUR in every presentation.
  • Use STORIES and concrete examples that are relevant to your audience to illustrate your points.
  • Use DRAMATIC techniques – pauses – looking at the group – walking to different parts of the room to vary the dramatic energy.
  • Use VISUAL AIDS effectively.
  • “3 X 3” is a good rule for PowerPoint presentations:

     3 words, 3 lines per slide (you can go to a maximum of 6X6) The same holds true if you’re still using overhead projectors!

  • Always check that your audience can see, and avoid speaking while writing on the board or flipchart.
  • When distributing hand-outs, WAIT until you have everyone’s attention before speaking.
  • Establish and maintain EYE CONTACT with your audience. Remember to give each and every participant – or part of the room – your attention.

ELIMINATE distracting items – on your person, in your pockets, in your hands (avoid holding pens, clanging change, etc).


  • Vandalism
  • Anchor yourself solidly on your feet
  • Take up space with your body
  • Allow arms to relax by your sides; avoid
  • “Closed” postures – upper arms glued to sides of body, crossed arms
  • Show non-threatening hand movements – open palms or the steeple gesture when appropriate
  • Tilt head when listening to responses; keep your head straight to indicate authority
  • Move purposefully towards the audience to show interest in their responses
  • Make sure there is congruence between what you are saying with words and with your body