Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders—Step 3: Takeaways

Sue Keever WattsSue Keever Watts
Senior Director at ROI Communication
Blog: http://keevergroup.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/sue-keever-watts/0/aa/b60
Twitter: @SueKeever
Blogs from Sue Keever Watts.

The third element in any presentation is “your story.” Your story is your message. Whether you’re giving a PowerPoint presentation or presenting without any props or aids at all, think of your message as a coherent story.

You want the audience to keep their eyes on you (not on your slides or props). Because we read from left to right, stand to the left (audience’s left) of the screen. Your slides simply keep you on track. The shorter the better.  Too much data and your audience will get overloaded and ultimately disconnect. Don’t anticipate your next slide. Look at the slide as though you’re seeing it for the first time along with the audience. Slides exist to queue you. They’re not the storyteller. You are. Use your voice to drive home your point.

Don’t read your slides verbatim. Reading puts people to sleep and completely kills all interest in your topic. It undermines your credibility and is the fastest way to drive people from the room.

If presenting a quote, look at the slide together and say something like, “Read the words of a great leader.” If you’re presenting findings or statistics, don’t try to fit everything into one slide. Select one statistic per slide and be creative. For example, instead of showing a bar chart of your intern conversion rates over the past five years, show one slide that says “Conversion rates up 75 percent.”

End with a quote, a story, a challenge, or a call to action. If you want to keep people’s attention, make eye contact. If you want to make your story relevant, then use the word “you.” Incorporate statements such as “Have you ever” or “I believe you’ll find” or “What do you think about?”  Your presentation isn’t all about you—it’s all about your audience.

Remember, if your body language or your voice gets in the way of your overall message, you’ll lose your audience. Delivery can make or break your presentation, so spend as much time on your voice and your nonverbal communication as you do your slide deck.

Sue Keever Watts will deliver Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders on Wednesday, June 3, at NACE15. She has been helping leaders develop their presentation skills for more than 25 years.

If you missed part 1 or part 2, you can read them on the NACE Blog.

Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders—Step 2: Delivery

Sue Keever WattsSue Keever Watts
Senior Director at ROI Communication
Blog: http://keevergroup.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/sue-keever-watts/0/aa/b60
Twitter: @SueKeever
Blogs from Sue Keever Watts.

There are three things that matter when you’re presenting. Here’s a hint—one of the three is not your PowerPoint deck. The three things include your nonverbal communication, your voice, and your message. Your body language (nonverbal communication) and voice dramatically impact whether your audience believes what you have to say. Simply put, the way you deliver your message is what people use to judge your level of expertise, intelligence, and trustworthiness. We’ve all watched presentations where we couldn’t get past the speaker’s irritating voice, her pacing, or his lack of eye contact.

Let’s start with the most important of the three, which is nonverbal communication. By this I mean your posture, your body language, and your overall presence. Although difficult, the best way to stand in front of an audience is with your arms at your side. Clasping your hands together is a natural response to fear. In essence, you’re covering or protecting yourself. And, when you clasp your hands, you look nervous (which, of course, you are). When you look nervous, you appear less confident and that impacts your credibility.

You can use your hands to make a point or to point at something, but when not in use, they should be at your side. Also, when you move, move with purpose. Don’t rock back and forth, and don’t wander aimlessly. Walk over to one side of your audience, make eye contact with someone in the audience, make your point, pause, and then walk to another side of the room and do the same thing. Making eye contact with individuals in your audience creates intimacy. Finally, don’t talk at your audience, talk to them. Think of your presentation as a conversation. How would you deliver this information to one person over a cup of coffee? A good presenter is able to close the gap between herself and her audience.

The second most important element in your presentation is your voice. By voice, I mean your cadence, how you punctuate your sentences, and whether or not you pause. Have you ever listened to a presentation and the speaker’s voice never changed? It didn’t speed up or slow down. It didn’t rise or fall. It was flat, it was frenetic, or it was extremely loud throughout the entire presentation. More than likely, you lost interest.

Effective presenters raise their voices to accentuate a point. They lower their voices to almost a whisper to draw in their audience. Pausing is one of the most effective tools in the presenter’s arsenal. Every time you pause, you give the audience time to fully absorb what you’ve said. It is truly the only way that you can effectively get your message across. Oftentimes people give too much information. They give it too quickly. They don’t pause. And, then they wonder why no one was able to remember what they said. Pause often, and pause after you’ve made an important point. Finally, use your voice to punctuate your sentences. Don’t be afraid to demonstrate a little emotion by raising your voice (or lowering your voice), using your arms, or simply pausing to let the full impact of your message reach the audience.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about takeaways. If you have any suggestions or related stories, please e-mail me at swatts@roico.com.

Read Step 1 on the NACE Blog. Also, see Step 3.

Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders—Step 1: Prep Work

Sue Keever WattsSue Keever Watts
Senior Director at ROI Communication
Blog: http://keevergroup.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/sue-keever-watts/0/aa/b60
Twitter: @SueKeever
Blogs from Sue Keever Watts.

All great presenters have one thing in common: they give, they don’t take. In fact, the best way to give a truly memorable presentation is to turn the tables and shift the focus away from you and onto your audience. In this three-part series, we’ll cover the essential elements of a powerful presentation—prep work, delivery, and takeaways. Anyone can be a great presenter, I promise. It just takes practice. Here are some tips for getting started:

  1. See yourself as a present-er. I know it’s cheesy, but if you think of your presentation as a gift, then you’re much more likely to capture the attention of your audience.
  2. Step away from the computer. Never build your presentation with a PowerPoint template. Your presentation isn’t your PowerPoint deck. The presentation is you—your brain, your ideas, your perspective, and your knowledge. Firm up your ideas before you put them into a template.
  3. Know your audience. Who are they and what information do they need? A presentation isn’t about holding people captive for an hour. It’s an opportunity to captivate, inspire, inform, transform, or educate.
  4. Identify one big idea. What do you want your audience to take away? Focus on no more than two-to-three key points, but find a repeating theme (one big idea) that pulls it all together.
  5. Use stories to engage your audience. Look for opportunities to incorporate brief stories into your presentation. Don’t be afraid to make it personal—use, perhaps, a story that influenced your viewpoint or position on the subject.
  6. Nail the opening. Audiences are easily distracted. You have to capture their attention quickly. Open with a surprising fact, a related story, or a question. Engage your audience from the get-go. Never open with an apology, excuse, or long-winded review of your accomplishments.
  7. PowerPoint isn’t the problem: bullet points are. Most PowerPoint presentations could give themselves. They’re packed with too many words, far too many ideas, and way too many instructions. If you use PowerPoint, think of the meaning of each slide. What idea are you trying to get across? Find an appropriate photo or graphic as the background and create one sentence that captures the essence of your message. Just one sentence per slide.
  8. Visualize. As you prepare to give your presentation, ask yourself what you would say if technology failed and it was just you and the audience. Then, visualize each slide along with the key message you’re trying to convey. Practice. Practice. Practice.
  9. Know when to stop. Your audience has an attention span of about 18 minutes. If you have an hour to speak, be sure to create opportunities for audience participation, discussion, and/or brainstorming. If you want your audience to retain the information you’ve presented, they have to participate.
  10. Prepare for objections or questions in advance. Determine whether you’re going to take questions during, between sections, or after your presentation. Always repeat the question. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you.”

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to deliver an effective presentation. If you have any suggestions or related stories, please e-mail them to me at swatts@roico.com.

Sue Keever Watts will deliver Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders on Wednesday, June 3, at NACE15. She has been helping leaders develop their presentation skills for more than 25 years.

Read: Step 2 and Step 3

What to Expect at NACE15 if You’re a First-Timer

Debbie BolesDebbie Boles, Assistant Director, University of Oklahoma Career Services
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dboles/
Twitter: @breboles

In 2014, I attended my first NACE Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Although I have been working in higher education for 20+ years, it was my first year as a NACE member. As I prepare to attend the 2015 NACE Conference & Expo, I thought it might be nice to share some things that helped me at last year’s conference.

Remember: The conference will be what you make of it. If you take the opportunity to meet new people, learn new things, and gather ideas to bring back to the office, then that is what will happen.

Preparation: Promotional Materials, Maps, and Apps

When conference information is sent through the mail, I keep it handy to help me get organized. The registration information booklet for the 2015 NACE Conference & Expo includes a folded handout that provides key information regarding keynote speakers, great ideas in 15-minute SMARTtalks sessions, and new events that capture the latest innovations. It is important to read the brochures, access the online resources, and research the large variety of concurrent sessions.

Then, download the NACE15 Conference app to your phone. (You’ll find it in your app store. Search for NACE15.)

I learn as much as I can prior to the event in order to decide what I want to attend and to help me build a roadmap for my journey.

Determine which sessions are important for you to attend. Get to know the conference layout (there’s a conference map in the program and on the NACE15 app) so you can find your way around between sessions, but also because a session may change locations or be cancelled. Check the app often for updates. Each time you leave your room, check that you’re carrying your schedule, room key, and name tag. Do not leave your room without your map and your app.

Remember, be flexible and prepared, and have a backup plan.

Participation: Divide and Conquer

If this is your first NACE Conference, plan to attend the newcomers’ session and try to arrive early. If you are traveling with other newcomers or experienced conference attendees, divide up to meet new people.

If you are traveling with other staff from your office, divide the sessions and attend different sessions. Determine what is most important for you to attend, then spread out and cover more ground. Be prepared to report back to your group. Do not try to do everything.

Are you competitive?  Do you like to participate and win prizes?  Be your own private investigator.  Search within your conference information to find interesting challenges that take you outside your comfort zone.  If you are nervous, you will find comfort in numbers because you are not the only one that is doing something for the first time.  Take a chance, learn from others, and have fun while doing it.

Resources: What to Bring, Where to Go, What to Know

What is your learning style? Do you prefer to read about something or would you like to be able to see it, access it, and learn by doing?

Throughout the conference, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to see the latest career-related products and services in the Expo Hall. Take advantage of this! Pick up a brochure, watch a demonstration, or meet the people that work behind the scenes. The Expo Hall provides an interesting environment that combines rows of vendors with chances to win prizes, as well as a place to get a snack or eat a meal.

When attending sessions, ask questions. Introduce yourself to the presenters and other participants. Ask for a business card, website, or e-mail address, and when you return home, be sure you use this information to keep in touch.

Other Tips for First-Timers

Bring an umbrella, light jacket, and sunscreen. Remember phone chargers, medication, and comfortable shoes.

And finally, have some fun! Find a balance between doing everything and wishing you would have done more. Take a break every once in a while to meet new people. Think about what makes you more comfortable and then do something nice for someone else.

Make the most of your time and remember to drink lots of water. Hope to see you there.

Who to Meet at NACE15

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva UniversityMarc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University
Twitter: @MarcGoldmanNYC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/marcjgoldman
Blogs from Marc Goldman

Hello, intrepid NACE Blog readers. It’s been quite a busy academic year for me, but after some friendly reminding on the part of Claudia Allen, I’m back and ready to write or, more appropriately noted, type. I cannot believe it’s been almost a year since our last NACE conference in San Antonio, TX. Yee haw! I am still having trouble getting the hayDan Black and Fred Burke, NACE14 and sawdust out of my boots. And the vivid memory of Fred Burke and Dan Black all cowboy-like lingers, for better or worse. It is now time to turn our attention to the West Coast and our return to Anaheim. I recall celebrating NACE’s big 50th anniversary the last time we met in Anaheim. Members dressed to the nines in tuxes and gowns for the red carpet soiree, and much fun was had by all. Once again, we will find ourselves facing the moral dilemma of attending another training or information session versus “networking” poolside in the California sun. Regardless of how you spend your time at the conference, it is always important to keep in mind whom you should try to meet while there. Feel free to reference my blog post from last year regarding this topic. But if you prefer only to look toward the future and not relive the past, then read on here about the key people to find and connect with at NACE15!

One of your awesome conference co-chairs is a great friend and colleague of mine, Brian Guerrero, currently at UCLA. I have known him since he was a wee lad of 12 or Brian Guererroso, when he applied to be a career counselor at the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development. Brian is one of the classiest cats around, quite informed and educated in our field and genuinely caring and supportive toward others in his circle and Caroline Cunninghambeyond. I know if his clarity of vision and infectious enthusiasm are involved in this year’s conference, then we are in for a treat. Say hi to him, thank him, and have him introduce you to his co-chair, Caroline Cunningham, and members of the conference committee!

When you first arrive at the conference center, you will be greeted by many wonderful NACE staffers, sporting polos in one color or another. Which one will it be when you get there? Only the fates can decide! Anyway, if you ever have thought to yourself, “Self, I Cecelia Naderreally want to volunteer my time and be more involved in NACE,” then you need to track down Cecelia Nader! Cecelia is the volunteer guru, as I like to call her, and can certainly steer you in various directions toward using your strengths and taking on exciting challenges, all in the name of good will for the professional association. And don’t worry, you will never be a bother. If she can put up with me, she can handle most people with ease.

Atrudy wonderful Marriott employee should be on your go-to list. How many Marriotts have I stayed in due to NACE conferences? Man, I should have become a Marriott Rewards member years ago! How great have these stays been? Of course, they have varied from location to location, but mostly, the staffs have handled our throngs and accompanying needs, whims, and complaints incredibly well. You might even learn something about the hospitality industry or make a new connection for your school or recruiting staff. The possibilities are…to quote the “Chief” herself, Trudy Steinfeld…limitless!

O. Ray AngleWhether you are a NACE newbie yourself or a member of the Academy of Fellows (That’s you now, O. Ray Angle Shawn VanDerzieland Shawn VanDerziel!), please welcome and embrace first-time conference attendees. The annual conference can be overwhelming and confusing at times. There are so many names and faces, and people try their best to avoid that awkward squinting and staring at the print on name badges to acquaint themselves. Be the good Samaritan, introduce yourself, and offer a helping hand to the rookies.

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University

Me! Yes, you can read my blog post from last year to learn about me, but I will once again offer up my openness to meeting new colleagues. Feel free to say hi, ask about my work with the Leadership Advancement Program committee this year, or note how I have chilled a bit on my ribbon obsession! I look forward to seeing you all in Anaheim in June! Oh yeah, make sure to encourage me to keep the blogging momentum going. Claudia Allen would really appreciate it. (Editor’s note: Yes, she would.)

Get Ready. Get Set. Get Packing!

Caroline CunninghamCaroline Cunningham, Recruiting Team Lead for Enterprise Hiring at Chevron Corporation and co-chair of the NACE 2015 Conference Committee
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/caroline-miller-cunningham/3/30b/769

I can’t believe NACE 2015 will be my eighth NACE conference! Over the years, I have traveled to some pretty fun places like New Orleans, Orlando, Dallas, and Las Vegas—twice! Between my travels to the NACE conference, and many years of campus and conference recruiting trips, I have learned a few dos and don’ts about packing that I hope will be helpful for you as you get ready to come to Anaheim.

1. When packing your clothes, try these things to keep them from getting creased in your suitcase:

  • Roll Your Clothes: Backpackers swear by this method. Rolling works well with pants, skirts, and sport shirts. Lay the item face down, fold back the sleeves, and roll from the bottom up.
  • Fold Clothes Together: Take two or more garments—for example trousers—and lay half of one pair on top of the other. Fold the one on the bottom over the pair on the top. Then take the other and fold it over the top. This gives each pair some cushion where you’ve folded, so it’s less likely either will crease or wrinkle in the folds.

2. Most hotels provide basic toiletries like shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and disposable razors. Lighten your load by calling ahead to see what will be provided.

3. Bring clothes in neutral colors that you can mix and match, and only pack shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits. Believe me, a pair of black pants and a pair of black flats go a long way!

4. Check the weather at your destination before you leave and pack accordingly. If the weather deviates significantly from the forecast, you can always buy a sweater or rain poncho and keep it as a souvenir. Temperatures average in the low 80s in June in Anaheim, but the conference rooms can be chilly, so pack a light sweater or wrap.

5. Bring a few laundry pods. These are one of the greatest inventions for travelers. I always pack a few of these in my suitcase in case I spill or need to quickly wash a T-shirt or blouse.

6. Use zipper storage bags. These are great for organizing socks and undergarments or packing individual outfits in your suitcase. I always tuck a few extra in my suitcase as well for a wet bathing suit or those souvenir soaps I want to bring home.

7. If you have a tablet or small laptop, bring it. Last year, I took notes on my iPad during several of the sessions and was so glad to have it with me.

8. Other items you might want to pack include a stretchy exercise band for a quick in-room workout, a baseball hat and flip flops to run down and get coffee first thing before you shower, an umbrella (though in California lately those are rarely used), and a neck or back pillow for the plane.

Lastly, I can’t tell you how worthwhile it has been for me to invest in a really good carry-on size suitcase.  I opted for a lightweight polycarbonate case with four way spinners and an external pocket for my laptop.  This thing is tough as nails and can hold a surprising amount of stuff.  The bonus is not having to check my luggage.

Happy packing and see you in Anaheim!

Networking Advice With a Cucumber Sandwich

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Pamela Weinberg
Website: www.pamelaweinberg.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/pamelaweinberg/
Twitter: @pamelaweinberg
Blogs from Pamela Weinberg.

I had the pleasure of attending a tea at the elegant Carlyle Hotel in New York City recently. The invitation came from LaGuardia Community College’s (LAGCC) President’s Society and the evening was sponsored by a benefactor of the school who had the excellent idea to expose the LAGCC students to aspects of life that were typically unavailable to them until now. The attendees were a mixture of LAGCC honor students and working professionals in a variety of fields. The evening was designed to give these students (most of whom are the first in their families to attend college) the opportunity to network and practice their social skills with professionals in a beautiful setting. In addition, a guest speaker, Gregory Mosher, spoke to the group about his career trajectory.

I had intended to write a blog post extolling the many benefits of hosting such a networking event for students. And there are many. But I hadn’t anticipated that the talented guest speaker would give the students such creative and interesting networking advice, so I’ve decided to share that as well.

For a theater lover like myself, hearing that Gregory Mosher was going to speak at the tea was exciting. Mosher has been involved in the theater since the 1960s and has won every theater award imaginable. He was the director of Lincoln Center Theater, and has directed dozens of plays including “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Hurly Burly,” and “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

Mosher won the students over immediately with his humble and honest confession that he was never much of a student, and that he really had no idea what he wanted to do with his life as a student and a young adult.

He told the audience that he stumbled through school (many schools actually) and had no real career calling. A friend invited him to a theater performance and rather than saying no, he said yes—and was forever hooked on the theater. This was the first piece of advice he imparted to the students: Say yes to new opportunities—even if those opportunities sound a little scary or are out of your comfort zone. Saying yes allows you to explore new options, new fields, and to meet new people—opening up all sorts of new possibilities.

Mosher also advised the students to “put it out there.” He encouraged students to speak to as many people as possible about their passions, interests, and ambitions. Whether it is an internship, an informational interview, or a mentor, he advised the students to let their friends, professors, employers, and family members know what they want, because by putting that message out into the world, results will come. I love this advice, and have seen it work time after time.

Finally, Mosher told the group about a fascinating phenomenon called the “Three Degrees of Influence,” which is a proven theory about the mechanics and importance of human networking. Nicholas Christakis, a sociologist at Harvard University, and James Fowler, a political scientist at the University of California, wrote about this theory in their book, “Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our LivesHow Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do.” The researchers found that our community and social network are like a honeycomb in which people influence one another. The remarkable finding is that we are not only impacted by our friends, but by our friends’ friends as well. Mosher told that group that by surrounding ourselves with a positive, strong network, we are both contributors to and recipients of that positivity, and will benefit accordingly.

After Mosher finished his talk, the room was abuzz with chatter. The students were palpably inspired by his advice and were circulating the room, speaking to each other and the working professionals with a strong sense of purpose. Business cards were exchanged and promises of keeping in touch were made.

So what has happened two weeks post-event? I have a lunch date with a student who wants to speak to me about her career plans and two students contacted me asking me to review their LinkedIn profiles (as a career coach, that’s an offer I often make). I am glad to see that the students were already putting some of Mosher’s excellent advice to use, and hope that they continue to do so.

Please share your student networking tips here!