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Intro to Presentation Skills

By Taylor Duffy and Pauline Johnson

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Presentation skills are extremely important. There will be many times in your career when you have to share your ideas in front of multiple people, so it is important to engage your audience and offer ways for them to participate with you in the learning process, especially when hosting a remote audience.

SimVentions recently began a 7-session “SimV Academy” on presentation skills and Pauline Johnson offered to teach the first session, the introduction into presentations. The purpose of this session was to present the foundations of creating meaningful presentation experiences. The main message of her talk was that less is more. It is extremely important to keep your points simple, focused, and clear. Humans are very intelligent, but admittedly, we do not have the best short-term memory. Keeping things short and simple will provide your audience the most opportunities to retain the experience.

Crafting your purpose statement is very important and will come easily as you realize your goals for the presentation. Well-written goals or objectives will keep you focused and on track as you prepare your materials. When developing your goals, think of the word, “SMART,” which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Good goals have action verbs and should always start with the phrase: “At the end of this session the attendee will…” Focusing on these 5 qualities will make your presentation worth remembering and provide a measurable outcome.

Another key component of a successful presentation experience is when the presenter captures the expectations of the audience and checks to make sure the expectations have been met or addressed. A volunteer from the session wrote the list of expectations that the attendees shared for the course, and at the end of the session, Pauline reviewed the list with the audience and initiated some discussion around one of the topics that the attendees had hoped would be discussed. It’s a win-win for the audience and the presenter to share and review the topics of most importance to the attendees.

Pauline also talked about and demonstrated the importance of involving your remote audience. With Teri Bailey acting as her “tech producer,” the remote audience was invited to fully participate through the chat window, answering questions and participating as those did in the room.  It can be so easy to forget about the people dialed into the meeting, which makes it even harder for the remote audience to be engaged at a participatory level. At SimV, we use Cisco WebEx to technically connect remote attendees. There are many ways to involve those dialed in such as chats, hand-raising, and polls! There are many other remote, meeting platforms that have the same amount of engagement that a company can use to keep everyone focused and participating. The key is for the presenter to orient their speech towards the remote participants and intentionally ask for their input throughout the presentation.

Pauline did a great job with giving everyone an intro into presentation skills. We are so excited for the rest of the sessions because of its importance and relevance to all our careers.