Present like a boss

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I am so my mother’s daughter. I always forget until we spend time together. Professionally, she is a marketing consultant for professional firms (the exciting folks – lawyers, accountants etc.). She has given a workshop on presentations that work countless times. While sitting in final presentations for my masters degree yesterday I thought about a few tips for business school students or anyone who’s had to present anything ever. This isn’t my mother’s angle, but I’m sure we align in our thinking.

1. Stand still – find a stop and plant yourself there. Lean into one hip and shift your weight if you want, but don’t walk around – it’s distracting, unless it’s meant for emphasis, but then walk with conviction.
2. Stop touching your hair. Just STOP. Women don’t realize how much they fuss with their hair. It looked fine before you started presenting. It’s a habit, STOP IT! Your hair looks great, leave it alone.
3. Keep your voice up. We sometimes fall into a sing-song effect when presenting where we weave in and out with our volume. Read through your material and decide on specific words or ideas you want to stress and then build to those ideas and keep your tone consistent.
4. Slow down. You’re taking your audience on a  journey. Let them take it all in. It takes time to digest information/stats and insight. Don’t speed ahead – you want to move them along with you.
5. And finally – TELL A GREAT STORY. If your presentation is data driven, find a way to create a narrative arc to the information you’re presenting. It makes it more personal, compelling and engaging. You want to inspire wonder – even with the driest of material. Find a way to draw the audience in, either through key insights/findings or a personal story of how your data affects individuals. We are not robots (I hope), tell me a story.

I have watched so many presentations this year, and without a doubt, the ones that stay with me are the ones where they achieved all of these things. The people presenting also knew their stuff and had obviously rehearsed several times. Never go in cold. You’ll be nervous and your pacing will be off. You totally got this – just go in prepared.

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