All Women's Talk

How to Give a Presentation with Confidence and Flair Prepare Practice Peace.

By Kim

I’ve talked about what an important element effective communications is at work.

Whether you are an executive who must drill corporate strategies into the psyche of the company, or you are a mentor, acting as a guide for a young employee, or your are just having an average conversation with your boss.

But the one area of communications I have not pursued here is the presentation — most likely because I have such bad memories of my own performances.

I can tell you that at least twice a Sr. manager told me I needed to go to classes to improve my skills. I never had the time to do that, but I did teach myself a few things — and they have helped me as a business owner.

I know there are thousands of books, articles, blogs and other resources on this subject — not the least of which is Dale Carnegie.

But I wanted to share my own ideas to keep things uncomplicated and genuine for you:

Preparation is king in speech-giving — lest you want to be compared to the person who gave the horrible toast at a wedding.

Preparation means a few things to me.

• First, if you don’t know how to use PowerPoint or whatever presentation software your company uses…you must learn or get someone to teach you.
• Trust me–this is half the battle. Plus you get to play graphic designer for a little while — designing strong and stylish images and messages.

• Know your subject matter — i.e. your company and your business — inside and out.

• If there is time, prior to the presentation, begin to take good notes at meetings, talk to colleagues about important aspects of the business or strategic plan that you are presenting.

• Scour the internet about your industry…find relevant facts about your company, your competition and about new trends that may impact your company.

• No idea is really ever new (seriously) don’t try to write the whole thing from scratch.

• Dig through files and find previous presentations to see what is relevant to yours…and then edit, re-write, cut and paste into your presentation.

• And just like you did for your college term papers, reference experts.

• And speaking of writing…use everyday language…no one is going to care that you’ve chosen to use the word postulation, as opposed to concept.

• Keep your slides or images very concise…bullets, bullets, bullets! You want people to commit to memory your key points.

• Which brings us to timing. A solid presentation really shouldn’t be more than 12 minutes…15 minutes tops — unless your Steve Jobs giving the annual Apple presentation.

• Be mindful of your attendees schedules…they will appreciate it.

• Find impactful images: graphs, charts, even photos if it will help strengthen your ideas.

• Practice! Take your presentation home and practice in front of a mirror, before friends, maybe even video tape yourself so that you can see what you look and sound like.

• Speak up — speak clearly and slowly. Women can sound shrill if they speak to quickly.

• Check your overall appearance: no dangling pendants, no shiney brooches…you want your audience to be listening to YOU, not be distracted by your jewelry.

• Try to limit your hand movements…but if you can’t help yourself, make sure you’ve gotten a manicure.

• If you have to give a presentation out of town, be sure to have a general sense of your audience in terms of office wardrobe. NYC Vogue does not fly in Des Moines.

• When presentation day comes, be sure to thank your audience — especially senior members of management.

• And lastly, try to stay on point — my biggest faux pas usually happened when I began to notice the audience fidget (often when I digressed and tried to throw in a giggle.)

I would stutter and really get so off topic that I’d forget where I was in the presentation — which eventually led my management to pull me aside and tell me I needed classes…ick.

We all know that public speaking is difficult…but believe me…if you prepare and practice — you will present with confidence.

Technorati Tags: Apple Computer, PowerPoint, presentations, Speech making, steve Jobs

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