It's been an exciting time for my team and me, as we've welcomed the publishing of my first book "Presentation Skills for Managers" (News to you? You can learn more in this post.) When I was approached about this edition, I was thrilled to get to work on it. This isn't only because I was looking forward to the prospect of creating a book ANYONE can read to help them improve their skills, but the particular challenges managers face add another level to the proceedings.
Why is there so much stress on managers when it comes to presenting? Here's just a few reasons:
To be a good leader, managers need to model the behavior they want to see in their team. Want your people to present better at a certain high-level conference? You better be able to do it yourself. Want more useful meetings, more engaged audiences when your team has something to say? You better be able to lead the room. When a leader takes the "do as I say, not as I do" route, their team is left to wonder, "if he/she doesn't care about these skills, why should I?"
They not only need to "walk the walk", but they also need to encourage the participation of others. I'm a big believer that when an organization commits to improving their skills as a group, the results are far better across the board. Managers need to weave focus on these skills into the fabric of their team.
As I said, my goal with "Presentation Skills for Managers" is that, manager or not, anyone can interact with the book and become a better presenter. However, my additional hope is that the information targeted to managers will make it easier for them to lead.
Here are 3 presentation skills tips useful to managers that we discuss in the book - and one thing many people don't realize is "optional" when it comes to presentations.
1. Want your team to improve? Schedule it. Obviously, I wouldn't dream of writing a book about presentation skills without mentioning the Rehearsal Process. Managers can help team members upgrade their skills by encouraging speakers to schedule rehearsal time in conference rooms or office spaces, and by doing so themselves. When team members see "Dress Rehearsal" time scheduled by their leader on a conference room calendar, it can inspire them to take advantage of that vital practice time on their own.
2. Know who struggles with presenting... Many struggling speakers will have to present at some point — it's certainly hard to avoid entirely. Help them out. Offer to attend a rehearsal and give feedback, or encourage them to find a trusted colleague to be there. If at all possible, give them a little extra lead time if you'd like them to speak.
3. ...and who your aces are. Got a team heading to give a big demo? There's a lot of ways to help great presenters shine in a group setting, while making the most of everyone's individual talents. However, you can encourage strong speakers to take the lead on parts of a group presentation that would benefit everyone — perhaps they should moderate the panel, or deliver a major idea in a demo. When it comes to group presenting, how the group is "cast" makes a huge difference in the delivery.
And here's one thing that I wish everyone knew — manager or not! — about presentations:
You do NOT have to take questions during your presentation. At all. That is totally optional. Now, that said, depending on your particular situation, there may be consequences to choosing to opt out of Q&A. However, it's your choice. Your presentation is yours, and you can make that call.
Lots of people are frightened about Q&A. Personally, I love it, and I offer a lot of tips on how to run a stellar Q&A session that you and your audience will appreciate in the book. Q&A is an easy way to connect, explore concepts you might not normally get to discuss in a presentation, and bring people deeper into your message and content. However, remember this: you do not have to take questions. At all.
I'm very proud of this book, and I hope you'll read it, use it, and let me know what you think! If you're interested, you can find a link to purchase it HERE.
I'll be making a sample available online very soon, so be on the lookout for it. In the mean time, if you have any questions for me, you can click below and ask me, any time.