Presentation Guide for Women
A flash of light. A dawning realisation. A gut feel. Something – you don’t know what – tells you that your brainchild is a sure-fire success, A Winner. Now, all you need to do is present it to your boss — uh oh!
If all bosses were smart, you wouldn’t be reading this. Unfortunately, a lot of them are surprisingly dull, which means that we have to approach them keeping their surprisingly poor mental aptitude in mind when we want to present an idea.
For this reason, the Presentation was invented: a session whereby the presenter gets all the attention of the audience, which includes his or her boss, and sells an idea to them. It was designed to optimise brain receptors and minimise stupidity. But even with all these measures, a boss’s idiocy can still dim your idea. Here’s what to do, step-by-step, to make sure your presentation brings out the brighter side in him or her.
Preparation: 1 + 1 = 2
No argument was ever won without convincing logic. Thus, if you want your boss to see that 1 + 1 = 2, your material must add up.
Now is a good time to think about your idea seriously. Can it really do what you say it can? Write out the problem and the solution you are proposing on a piece of paper. Now read it aloud: does it look convincing? More importantly, does it sound convincing?
This is the most important step of all, because if your idea doesn’t have a sound logic, there’s no way your boss will ever see the use of it. Make sure that there is a definite, distinctly defined problem. Then show how your idea is going to address it.
First, you need tools. Presentations are done everyday, on different scales, throughout society. When Microsoft blasted millions on the launch of Windows Vista, it was a presentation. When you walk into a shop and the sales assistant makes her pitch, it’s a presentation. Microsoft uses large TV screens, balloons, fireworks and lasers to make their point. The sales assistant uses her smile, the products around her and her persuasive salesmanship. My point is this: what can you use?
People talk about ‘making yourself heard’ a lot these days because there’s so much communication and information flying about. In order to be heard, you have to be creative. Think of different ways to present your idea.
Some examples: if you’re proposing a new process, bring along the by-products from the existing process (like unnecessary paperwork). If you’re selling a new product idea, express the need that exists and how your idea will fulfil it (acne medication: a volunteer with a bad pimple). Bring along a prototype if possible. If you’re pushing for a five-day work week, show some pictures of your office employees lazing about on Saturdays. Or better yet, get them to demonstrate a typical Saturday workday for the benefit of the audience.
Use some medium that will make your audience sit up and take notice. Once you have their attention, your flawless logic has a better chance of being heard.
A Presenter’s Best Friends
Computers are a popular presentation tool, and why not? With some cool animated graphics, an LCD projector and a dark room, anyone can be Bill Gates. But aside from the fact that they can be time-consuming to produce, and can be more trouble than they’re worth (something almost always goes wrong), they’re not the be all and end all of presentations. Besides, other tools are often more practical than laptops anyway.
The humble flip-chart is often overlooked, as well as the whiteboard. These are particularly useful if you want to illustrate something, and need the help of a marker to draw lines and boxes and squiggly people. They are much easier to set up, and have the added flexibility of being able to take on a whole new page, in case you think of something more you’d like to include at the last minute. It also encourages people to participate by taking notes – helpful in the learning process for any child (or boss) – and so help your message sink in.
It’s always a good idea to give handouts of whatever it is you’re presenting, but not too much. Don’t spoil your boss. Make sure he or she has to put in some effort in taking notes of his or her own. If you’re not giving handouts, at least supply a couple of sheets of rough paper and a pencil. Get them involved.
Finally, you should always bring support. Get at least one colleague to sit in on the presentation who will ask pertinent questions and encourage discussion. The more your idea is discussed, the better chance there is of it being approved… or, at the least, sent up the hierarchy.
It can be intimidating, facing a table of people, all of whom feel that they undoubtedly have more important things to do than listen to you jabber on about your cure for office supplies shortage.
But there they are, and there you are. Face to face. You asked for it, and now you’ve got it. One chance to impress, one shot at glorious distinction. You could either fall flat on your face, or grow in their esteem. If you’ve taken proper preparation steps, then at least you won’t have to worry about potential operational screw-ups, which can be very disconcerting. Assuming you’ve readied yourself up to the hilt, begin your pitch.
There are several things to remember about giving presentations that you should never forget:
- Speak clearly, and loudly
- Don’t look at the floor, maintain eye contact
- Use active, positive language
- Wear comfortable shoes, in case you stumble.
When speaking, don’t mumble or murmur under your breath, because your boss will think you’re talking about him or her to yourself. Say everything distinctly, and look for signs of comprehension on their face and in their eyes — that’s what all this is for: to get your idea through his or her thick skull. Use active language like “It will do such-and-such a thing” rather than “It could do such-and-such a thing”. And don’t wear anything that may be hazardous to your pitch like high-heels, or, if there are men, plunging necklines (we find it hard to concentrate on what a total babe is saying when her blouse is set to burst).
No one is going to stand up at the end of your presentation, applaud you, and ask you to put into execution everything you just proposed as well as recommend your promotion. That only happens in the movies and in corny deodorant advertisements.
What will happen is that you would have made an indelible impression in their minds, enough for them to remember what you said for the next week or so. This is when the poker is hot, and this is when you should strike. Over the next few days, do your best to follow-up on your proposal with your boss. He or she may be marginally better-informed after your talk, but no smarter. You’ll still have to keep reminding him or her of it, and push for the stamp of approval.
Sometimes, several idiots may have to make a collective decision on your idea. This is even more frustrating than dealing with one, but necessary to ensure complete sanity in the workplace. Make sure you’re as diplomatic as possible when it comes to chasing signatures or deadlines: being the idiots that they are, they might think you’re trying to overthrow their thrones.
Not that that would be such a bad idea, now, would it?
This work by The Chick Times is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.chicktimes.com.