By Onyeka Azike, Communication Shawdow Chair – TMCA
OPEN UP. This was the crux of the presentation skills workshop delivered by Prof. Baer. The session kicked off with Prof. Baer laying out the agenda for the session as well as anecdotes highlighting the importance of good presentation skills. If you lack the ability to clearly and effectively communicate your ideas, people will underestimate your business ability. Although it is ok to be nervous – because it shows that you are taking the presentation seriously – you must OPEN UP: Organized, Passionate, Engaging, Natural, Understand and Practice.
Prof. Baer recommended that you identify three critical points, state them at the beginning of the presentation, expand on them and then end the presentation by reminding the audience of those three points. This results in an organized and structured presentation that is easy for the audience to follow. Prof. Baer also mentioned several times in the session the importance of having an executive summary. CEOs do not want to wait until the end of your presentation to find out what you need from them. Tell them upfront. Delivering your presentation with passion, using assertive words, is an essential part of an effective presentation.
Avoid umms and like other…err…ummm…like other “verbal graffiti”. Speak clearly and pause deliberately for emphasis. Visual aids should be simple and easy to read. Additionally, your audience is likely to enjoy your presentation more if you engage them by asking question, for example. Let your delivery be natural and conversational. Gestures can be used to highlight important points, for example, extending your hands from low to high to show increase in revenue.
Before the presentation, make sure you completely understand the audience, product, company etc. It is important to understand who is in your audience, why they are there and what they want to hear from you. Lastly, practice, practice and then practice some more, if possible in the venue of the presentation to get acclimated to the environment. Pay particular attention to your body language and ensure that it conveys confidence. Standing tall with your hands at your side is the best posture; not slouching or with your hands in your pocket, or folded at your back or in front. Prof. Baer’s workshop ended with three volunteers from the audience each giving a short presentation and receiving constructive feedback from Prof. Baer and other students.