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

Top 10 Reasons to Attend NACE15

Chaim Shapiro

Chaim Shapiro
Website: http://chaimshapiro.com/
Twitter: @chaimshapiro
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chaimshapiro
Blogs from Chaim Shapiro.

Excitement is in the air. NACE15 is just a few short weeks away! In honor of David Letterman, I present the “Top 10 Reasons to Attend NACE15!”

10) Tell your boss you can’t wait to hear Lindsey Pollak discuss her book Becoming the Boss.

9) Find out what a “recharging lounge” is and whether you can get one at home!

8) See how many times you can ride the “It’s A Small World” ride without falling into a trance.

7) Catch an Angels game! They are in town and a couple of blocks from the hotel!

6) Network California style. Goofy hats are encouraged (voice impressions are not).

5) Find out how we can have “campfire conversations” indoors!

4) Find out what “dry heat” REALLY means in California in June.

3) You should try to learn something by attending the GREAT workshops.

2) Join the debate—are those clouds or is that smog?

1) Match NACE Board members to their doppelganger Disney characters!

Find Chaim Shapiro, whose doppelganger may be Fozzie Bear, facilitating a campfire conversation on social media at NACE15.

Career Services Becomes a Primary Focus for Student Affairs

Heather TranenHeather Tranen, Associate Director, University of Pennsylvania Career Services
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heathertranen

With increasing attention on return on investment in higher education, it’s no wonder that the pressure subsequently increases on career services professionals to deliver. As a result, career services becomes a more central point of discussion within the realm of student affairs.

My former colleague, Leah Lattimore, and I submitted a career services focused workshop for National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) to explore the effective communication strategies that promote lifelong career development.

Luckily, our crawfish dreams were answered and our proposal was New Orleans-bound for NASPA 2015: Navigating Courage.

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We felt excited about presenting on our topic to a different audience. What I did not expect to find was the plethora of other career-related sessions throughout the conference. I was able to learn more about data/assessment, the future of career services, the importance of early engagement, and recruitment trends. Sessions were also well attended by a cross-section of departments (housing, student activities, and alumni relations to name a few).  Undoubtedly, other student affairs professionals are recognizing career development as a high impact area of their field.

A few weeks later, I am now fully able to digest (literally and figuratively), the main takeaways from the conference as they relate to our work as career services practitioners. None of this information is surprising. However, it all provides interesting insight into where the industry is at the moment, and reminds us how to focus our work.

Data, data, data. As you might suspect, data and showcasing ROI through hard numbers was a hot topic. I don’t mean to brag, but Penn collects data and showcases it in a way where it frames a story for its students (e.g. What can I do with my major, or Where are people with my major working geographically?). One question posed and potentially worth considering to include in your placement surveys would be, “Why didn’t students use career services?” I enjoyed learning what offices at John Jay and FSU are doing during these discussions, and think it is worth thinking beyond just our placement statistics to explore how the data creates a story.

Customized, targeted services. Thought leaders from RIT, NYU, Stanford, and George Mason talked about the future of career services. The need for the core services with a targeted approach will only become an increasing pressure on us as career services professionals. Additionally, Georgia State discussed their targeted programming/niche career fairs. This was also a leading theme in our presentation.

Early engagement. Schools like UConn are offering credit-bearing First-Year Experience (FYE) courses. This definitely seems like an interesting way to tie career services to the academic enterprise and to put career services at the forefront of students’ minds from the very beginning of their college experience.

Recruiting trends. Employers pursuing a “soft” recruiting approach by targeting candidates via social media and at career development events vs. the more traditional recruitment events (e.g. career fairs and information sessions) is also a trend schools are seeing.

That career services has become a central focus within higher education came when speaker Trudy Steinfeld addressed a standing-room only group. She said, “I presented at NASPA many years ago. Guess how many people were in my session? Six.”

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Trudy Steinfeld said to a standing room only group, “I presented at NASPA many years ago. Guess how many people were in my session? Six.”

Now it’s up to us as professionals in the field to continue delivering top-tier work, and to innovate ways that connect our students to the placement numbers society seeks and to the careers that lead them to fulfilling work.

 

 

Dear Students, Don’t “Hey” Me

Smedstad-HeadshotShannon Smedstad, Employment Brand Director, Global Communications & Engagement Team, CEB
Twitter: @shannonsmedstad
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shannonsmedstad
Blogs from Shannon Smedstad.

I can recall my mother telling me, “Don’t ‘hey’ me,” when I was a teenager. This was her go-to response after I would start a statement or question with “Hey, Mom.” To her, it was too casual. “Hey” was something you said to your friends, not to your parents. Or it was something horses eat.

Many years later, I find myself thinking the same thing when college students begin job-related messages using the word “Hey.” During my time as a campus recruiter, I recall receiving too many e-mails beginning with “Hey, Shannon.” Now, in my work in employment branding and social media, I still receive the occasional, “Hey.” Recently, I received and responded to a direct message via Facebook that read:

“Hey. I’m an undergraduate management student. Looking for summer internship. How do I approach it?”

What I wanted to say was, “Let’s start the conversation by being a bit more professional, as this will help you greatly during the job-search and interview process.” But alas, I didn’t.

Are students too casual when writing to or engaging with recruiters? Is it OK to be casual or is this a pet peeve that we can collectively nip in the bud? My hope is for the latter. My simple request is that career center staff (and professors and parents) will coach their students not to address company representatives or people with corporate social media using “Hey.”

Job Seeker Tip! Don’t address your e-mails and cover letters with “Hey, Recruiter.” Be more professional. Up your game. #careeradvice

Job Search Tip of the Day: Do not begin e-mails, cover letters, and conversations with recruiters or hiring managers using “Hey.” It’s way too casual. Throughout your job search strive to be friendly, conversational, and professional.

Maybe this bit of advice is something that is shared during Job-Search 101 sessions or mock-interview days. Or, maybe I’m just getting old.

What do you think? Is it OK to address a recruiter with “Hey?” Share your thoughts in the comments.

Five Books Every Student Should Read

Lakeisha Mathews

Lakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
Twitter: @RightResumes_CC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lakeishamathews/
Blogs from Lakeisha Matthews.

A few months ago I wrote about 10 must-read books for career professionals. Now I would like to draw attention to a few must-read books for any student who aspires to be successful, a leader, or simply to be ready for the world of work.

With information always at their fingertips, students can access tips, samples, and information on career and professional development in a split second on Google, YouTube, Pinterest, and so forth. However, many professionals can attest to the book that changed our lives, or the author that helped us mature and think differently about ourselves. Our students should be encouraged to have the same encounters with books that help them grow and mature professionally. Whether it’s a hard back, soft cover, or e-book, books are beneficial to help students grow professionally and we should be recommending them.

Lifehack.org, a website dedicated to providing tips for productivity, features an article entitled “10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day.” The author asserts that reading increases knowledge, improves your ability to articulate, strengthens analytical thinking skills, and has a positive effect on writing skills. Another website, Persistence Unlimited, offers 26 benefits to reading in an article, “The 26 Major Advantages to Reading More Books.” And, “Why 3 in 4 People Are Being Shut Out of Success” explores improving creativity, making more money, improving reasoning skills, and building expertise as benefits of reading. What do you know? Surprisingly, many of the benefits of reading are a direct match to the skills and qualities employers want from candidates. As noted, in the 2015 Job Outlook, employers seek candidates who are strong in communication, analysis, problem-solving, and creativity skills.

It’s safe to say that reading books can have a positive impact on students’ professional and career development. For that reason, I recommend providing students with suggested reading materials as a “career task” to address skill gaps, expand industry expertise, and help make informed career decisions. At the University of Baltimore, we have begun recommending books to help students write resumes and cover letters, learn about the federal hiring process, effectively use social media, build a professional brand, and increase understanding of career planning in general. And, to our surprise, students have embraced our recommendations.

Below are a few books, in no particular order, which had an enormous impact on my professional development as a college student and entry-level professional.

  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  •  Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace by Daniel Goleman
  • My Reality Check Bounced by Jason Dorsey
  • Peaks and Valleys by Spencer Johnson
  • Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

Of course books are not the sole format to recommend to students. Periodicals (in print and online) such as newspapers, professional journals, and business magazines are other sources for rich reading material that will help students grow professionally.

Dr. Seuss wrote in I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

If you had to identify five books that had a positive impact on your professional development or success what would be on your list?