10 Steps to Being Presentable: Giving Great Presentations

I’m getting ready to train a client group on delivering effective presentations and thought I’d revisit this sometimes scary topic.

Gary and his trusty cheat sheet. Notice how big the font is? That makes it easier to read at a glance.

Gary and his trusty cheat sheet. Notice how big the font is? That makes it easier to read at a glance.

We’ve all been on the other end, in a room with someone standing rigidly at a podium next to a screen where a PowerPoint is about to bore us to tears. Slide after slide filled with data we can’t read and a monotone speaker who looks at the screen more than the audience. We gain nothing more than we could have gleaned from a report and just can’t wait for it to be over.

So when it’s your turn to give a presentation, how do you make it a good one? Here are a few tips based on more extensive advice (and video training) I’ll be sharing with my client:

  1. Know your audience. This helps in so many ways. Make sure your material is geared toward their needs, not yours. If necessary, find out what they want to know in advance.
  2. Get over your nerves. How? Practice so you know your material. The more you know your stuff, the more at ease you will be. But don’t practice in front of a mirror. That just makes you feel weird.  Videotaping yourself, on the other hand, works. Also, don’t worry about perfection. That’s putting a lot of pressure on yourself. Just try to be engaging and interesting. If so, you’ll be better than most.
  3. Nail the open. But how? Unless you are absolutely certain your joke will work, don’t do it. Instead, ask your audience a question. That engages them and is an easy way to get moving in the right direction. And please, don’t try to memorize your opening. Again, that’s too much pressure to be perfect.
  4. Make sure your technology is fool proof. If not, don’t use it. A funny video from a popular movie or television show can be a great icebreaker. But show it to others first to make sure it works. And if the video, PowerPoint or audio is not tested in the facility where you are speaking, just skip it.
  5. Speaking of PowerPoint, it’s not necessary, too often boring and takes away from what the focus should be – your words. If you have important data to share, send it in advance or use it as a hand out. Just hit the high points in your speech.
  6. Make it interesting. That means you don’t read from a script or use big words or jargon. Instead, use stories, case studies, examples your audience can connect with. And tell your audience why they should care about what you’re saying. That is why they’re there.
  7. Don’t get hung up on verbal tics, like uh and um. Many people do it and you should learn to avoid them. But that’s a daily self-training (I heard one trainer recommend putting “uh” in a circle with a line through it and leave it on your desk. That way, as you are talking all day, you are conscious of it). But when you’re presenting, just let it go and keep talking.
  8. Create a presence. We’re not all gifted speakers who can walk the crowd and feel comfortable. But you should use your hands, use your voice so it’s not monotone and at least move a few steps and shake that icy grip you have on the lectern. Try it, it feels good.
  9. Prepare for problems. You go blank? Keep a one-page cheat sheet in front of you so you can quickly glance and find out where you are. You have technical difficulties? Go in with a back up and just move on. If you don’t dwell on the technical problem, neither will your audience. You’re audience does not seem interested? Then ask them questions.
  10. Speaking of questions. Many people ask the audience to hold questions until the end. Why? Because they don’t want to get sidetracked and lose their place. But if you have a cheat sheet, you have no worries.

How to make the most of your LinkedIn profile

Creating a LinkedIn profile is a great way to broadcast yourself online. LinkedIn accounts can help you land your dream job or grow your business. It’s important to have the right elements on your profile. Looking to stand out in the crowd and make the most out of your LinkedIn presence? Read below on how to enhance your LinkedIn profile.
ideagirlmedia / Foter / CC BY-ND
Here’s what your profile should include:
  • Experience: In addition to including your job title and how many year(s) you worked in a particular position, be sure to include your duties/roles (include present and past experiences) and, most importantly, your achievements in each role. Note: Leave out  personal information such as family or hobbies.
  • A custom url  for your public profile will make it more sharable and easy to find.
  • A professional photo is a must for your profile. This doesn’t mean you need a stuffy headshot, but keep your personal life out of your photo and keep the picture current.
  • A Summary that highlights your specialties and showcases a bit of your personality.
  • Education.
  • Any awards and honors you’ve received or volunteer work.
  • Groups relevant to you and your work.
  • The company you currently work for (be sure to link to your company’s page).
  • Connections to any Twitter account or blog platform that you use for professional purposes.
Be active.

  • Ask for Recommendations to enhance your profile and write recommendations for others.
  • Join relevant groups and actively partake in group discussions once or twice a week (or as time allows).
  • Attending an upcoming conference? Come across an interesting article? Share it!

Lastly, it’s important to have someone proofread your LinkedIn profile for any punctuation or spelling errors. The fastest way to look unprofessional is to have a typo in what is, for all intents and purposes, your most important professional online presence.

Does your LinkedIn profile have everything to land you the perfect job or grow your business? 

Photo credit: ideagirlmedia / Foter / CC BY-ND