This article has been selected for DeFinis Communications’ “Top Presentation Strategies for Women” Blog Carnival. You can enjoy even more posts from other exceptional bloggers at their website (Blog Carnival on July 13).
Over the years, I would like to believe that I have developed pretty decent presentation skills. Being in an MBA program, I have a unique opportunity to get frank feedback. By receiving peer evaluations, I have a chance to see what may or may not be working in my own style. If you deliver a sales pitch, most of the time losing the deal is the only indication you have that something didn’t go well. Without the feedback, how do you know what to change for next time?
In an effort to share some of my own experiences with you, I have a handful of tips women may use to help improve their presentation skills. Enjoy and feel free to share your own!
- Watch your hands. I am known to be quite fond of gesticulation (deliberate motions or gestures). It probably comes from a background in theater in which I always have to overemphasize my hand motions and body language so that the people in the back row would know just how mad or happy my character was. I have discovered if I have cards in my hand, they become distracting to my audience because they see white flashes going back and forth. However, I have found holding a slide remote control or wireless mouse has made me keep my hands still, mostly out of the fear that I will inadvertently advance the slides. Take some time to watch yourself present, not just in a practice round, and see if your hands are distracting from the point.
- Less is more. I have decided that I hate putting words on slides. If I could just show pictures, that’s all I would do. For most effective presentations, I would ideally have a totally visual slide deck (if slides are required), a handout with the key points, and a further brief or report for follow up. That may not always be possible, but really think about how to share the information from your presentation, and that instead of piling on details on a slide, include it as a reference for your audience members.
- Shoes are key. If you are a woman who has ever taken voice lessons, you would know that wearing the incorrect shoes can completely change your ability to manage pitch. The same can be said when presenting. If you already have a pretty high voice, you may need to lower your voice to make it easier for your audience to hear you. However, if you wear the season’s highest heels with the added two-inch platforms, you may not only risk tripping, but also could find your voice is shaky, high, and may be too breathy. You can still be stylish with reasonable shoes, and always practice you presentation in your shoes, especially if you plan on walking a lot on stage.
- Have fun. I am never the first to admit that I can be funny. Besides, my favorite jokes are still bad puns and knock-knock jokes. I don’t even try to tell jokes because they always fall flat. However, I push myself to have fun whenever I present. You may not believe it, but if you’re having fun, your audience can have fun…even if you’re talking about forecasts and projections. By having fun yourself, you’re not forcing the audience to like you. You like yourself, and self-confidence and happiness spread like wildfire. At the end of the day, you want people to say: “Hey, she was having so much fun with her presentation, I hope we get to see something from her again.”