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Public Speaking: Better Presenters for Better Meetings

Public Speaking: Better Presenters for Better Meetings. (Image: Center Stage)

Public Speaking: Better Presenters for Better Meetings. (Image: Center Stage)

Sometimes you really want to hear directly from the people on the ground.  You want to get it straight from the horse’s mouth – so to speak.  Those people don’t always have the skills to present concisely and effectively in a boardroom context.   

HR can help their organization run more effective ExCo, SteerCo and Board meetings by investing in presentation training for key staff. 

Certain topics may require that technical subject-matter experts be invited to shed light on specific concerns.  As the board may want to hear straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.  The guest needs to communicate effectively in a strictly allotted time slot.  Presenters who are not familiar with the exercise risk getting bogged down in details, running over time, getting cut short and missing the opportunity to get across a critical message.  

Organizations stand to benefit from better trained presenters at Executive Committees, Steering Committees and Board meetings.   Indeed, such meetings can be straining if the agenda and time slots are not adhered to.  The accumulated mental fatigue does not favor optimal outcomes. 

For this reason, more and more HR departments in Luxembourg are booking trainings in public speaking and presentation skills at the behest of the Board or Committee members who are looking to streamline the day’s agenda and get the information they need more effectively, thereby improving the quality of their meetings.

Guest presenters can be trained to communicate effectively in a boardroom and thereby improve the quality of those meetings. (Photo: Jacob Lund)

Guest presenters can be trained to communicate effectively in a boardroom and thereby improve the quality of those meetings. (Photo: Jacob Lund)

Six Tips for Boardroom Guests

Here are six tips for guest presenters to perform better at management meetings:

1.    Ask Questions.

You’ve received a simple calendar invitation in your inbox with a time, a place, a list of participants and a short subject line?  Don’t start preparing in isolation and making assumptions about what is expected of you.  Be proactive. 

Take the time to ask some preparatory questions to the meeting organizer.  Ask what aspects need to be highlighted, or how time should be allotted between the presentation and the Q&A, whether there is a deadline to tender supporting materials or whether it will be possible to show slides. 

2.    Know Your Audience

Like with every presentation, it’s critical that you understand what motivates your audience. 

Assess what specific concerns the committee members have this year or this quarter.  Whether it’s risk, costs, growth, innovation, competition, productivity, or quality-assurance – be sure to address it.  Deliver your messages with those angles in mind.  Speak to what the committee members care about and your contributions will be valued. 

3.    Hold-off on the Slides. 

We’ve all done it at some point, haven’t we?  We need to prepare a presentation, so the first thing we do is to open PowerPoint!               Not so fast.

Don’t start your preparation process with slide creation.  This will typically produce weaker slides and a potentially misguided message (and it will take up more of your time too!).  

Start by identifying the content you want to share and fleshing out the messages you want to convey.  Everybody has their preferred method for organizing their thoughts. Some people need to write down their thoughts in long-form, some need only to jot bullet point notes, while others need to talk it through with a colleague or visualize their presentation in a mind map.  Find your method and do the prep work.

4.    Make Choices

You can’t cover everything, so don’t.  Once you feel you have a good representation of all your relevant ideas, define your priorities and make choices. 

If you think you can possibly squeeze in 4 important points – please don’t.  It is better to drive home 3 points really well rather than to rush through 4 or 5 poorly delivered points. 

5.    Polish Your First and Last Impressions. 

You make the most lasting impression at the beginning and at the end of your talk.  Dedicate enough time to specifically prepare your opening remarks and your final closing sentence. 

6.    Keep to Time

The shorter the time you have to present, the more time you need to prepare.  Record and time yourself.  Make a note of the mid-point of your presentation as a gauge during your talk to know whether you’re ahead or behind with your timing. 

Keep in mind that a strict time limit means you can’t go long, but there is nothing wrong with finishing early.  If you have 10 minutes, plan and rehearse for a 9-minute talk. 

By comfortably finishing on time you will distinguish yourself and project competence. 

 Could your organization benefit from better streamlined executive meetings? Do you wish your guest colleagues were more effective in presenting their key take-aways?

Improve your people’s boardroom presentation skills today. 

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Guy Benzeno, Public Speaking Trainer, Center Stage Photo : Marie De Decker

Guy Benzeno, Public Speaking Trainer, Center Stage Photo : Marie De Decker