I gotta deliver a presentation at our annual regional meeting but I’m not a good public speaker. I’ve never been good at this and just scraped through uni. How can I improve my public speaking skills? Also how can I shine at the event as senior management will be there. How can i impress them and also what type of small talk can I make with the bosses and also peers from other regions?
Rebecca Cheung - Career Doctor
Posted Friday 5th October 2012 02:32:00 AM
Hi shy The thought of presenting in front of a group of people can be daunting! Even a veteran public speaker would tell you that they feel nervous each time before they get on the stage. So this is a natural physiological sensation, not because you are particularly shy. Why waste time immerses yourself in the thought of fear? The best way to tackle fear is to focus your attention on the preparation of the actual presentation. Firstly, you need to be clear about the reason of your presentation and how does it link to the overall objective and agenda of the annual regional meeting. Secondly, find out who your senior management audience will be and what information they should and be interested to take away. Be sure that you know the typical presentation style in your organization, based on your experience in participating in this type of meetings or seek advice from people who know the organization well. Typically, people use PowerPoint slides to aim their presentation. Remember that a succinct deck of slides with appropriate use of text, graphic and images is appealing to the eyes and more importantly, helps to present you as a knowledgeable and confident presenter. Now, with all the ground work done for the presentation, allow yourself sufficient time to rehearse. Very few people are gifted with spontaneous public speaking ability, for most of us PRACTISE is the word. Write down your introduction script, share it with your boss, and practise it in front of your family or friends. Ask them to observe your posture, body movement, eye contact and tone of voice. The more you prepare, the less anxious you become, because you are mentally and emotionally grounded into the task. Think of a humorous ice-breaker to start with, even it is in front of your senior management, even if you don't do it perfectly. After all, humility and humour can go a long way to help you connect with people and make your talks more enjoyable in a busy working day. It’s true that organization life has changed significantly. Gone were the days of promotion by seniority, or a sheer emphasis on technical excellence. To get ahead today, interpersonal skills is one of the key competencies required to thrive at work, and rightly you are spot on with this. Rather to impress people by making deliberate small talk, relationship building has to be genuine and come from the heart. Your presence will leave a mark with people if you can connect sincerely with thoughts and feelings of others. So, small talk should always be a genuine interest in other people, their lives and their aspirations. Rebecca