Thursday, February 16, 2017

Getting back to the Soft Skills - Presentation Skills

I count myself lucky to have landed in my job at NetSuite (now part of Oracle). I get to do some amazing work with nonprofits and spend some time thinking about how we can assist small nonprofits with their operations and financials. So awesome. But another great part is the resources available. I recently got to spend a couple days at a Soft Skills training and learned a bunch of things. So I thought I would take a bit of time to share a few things from this training and other things I have learned along the way that are relevant to anyone who needs to do a presentation.

Get comfortable with the content

Death by PowerPoint is no joke. If you don't know your content well enough to present it without reading a script or reading from the slides. If you know your content, it allows you to be natural in your presentation and have some fun with it. So practice it.

Have a plan.

Building your slide deck is not a plan in my experience.  All you are doing is planning what you are going to say and when. This would work great if your style is just to present the material and allow for questions, which for some scenarios is the only choice.  But I find it useful to create a training design, this allows me to think through the flow and objectives for each part, not just the content.

Here is what I typically use, I create a sample in a Google Doc. Beth Kanter has a good post on learning design! (Beth is wicked smart and rocks at presenting, by the way)

Pick your style for the presentation.

I think the biggest mistakes I have made when presenting is trying to do it all in one session: tell a story, run a workshop, present, interactive exercises, humor, entertainment, high level learning, detailed deep dive, etc.  I think the ones which worked best were the simple ones. I picked one hook for my session and stuck with it all the way. One theme and one approach with a clear message. You can mix a couple of these styles in, but it has to make sense with the topic and flow. How many times have you been in a session and the group activity felt forced or the story seemed to be a stretch or they spent the whole time entertaining but you never seemed to get to the content?

Techy or technical presentation?
Peter Campbell has an awesome post on how to handle this!

Yeah, I think I already mentioned practice, but practice should be repeated. And this is even more key when you have a team or a panel. Don't just wing it, unless that is the style of your presentation. But if winging is the style, make that clear in the description. However, even with a wing it interview style session, you still have to plan the time by topic, questions you will ask, prep the panel and do a dry run of the flow. So yeah, I go back to my original statement, you have to practice.

Random tips from the training I attended:

Tell, Show, Tell
Tell what you are going to show, Show it, Tell them what you showed.   Basically this goes to recency and primacy.  People remember what was repeated and what was said most recently.

Rule of 3 
Things told in chunks of 3 are easier to remember.  Read this article about it.

Limbic and Stories
There is a connection between memory and emotions (limbic system), stories are a great way to make this happen. Read this article as an example.  But there are many ways to bring emotion into your presentation, pick ones that match the plan and style you picked earlier, don't force it.

Well anyway, that is all the time I have for this post.  There is so much more you can do, but thought I would share.

Here is my list of links for you to read more: 


Beth's Blog said...

Thanks for the shoutout! See you at NTC?

Steve Heye said...

Thanks for reading and commenting Beth! I always recommend your sessions! And yeah, I will be at #17NTC and hope to see you!