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Are Your Employee’s Preparing and Delivering Presentations?

More and more companies are requiring that employees be able to prepare and deliver presentations. The

presentations may be to future or current customers, governance boards, other employees, management,

etc. While the audience may be different the common goals are generally the same. Presentations are

used as a tool to communicate an idea or opportunity to an audience. It is a commitment by the presenter

to help the audience do something and a constant evaluation of the worth of that commitment by the

audience. In most organizations, employees are continually asked to get their audience to commit to what

they are delivering in a presentation.

Presentations are a relationship building process between a presenter and their audience. They are

a partnership rather than a performance, a linkage rather than a confrontation and a task of coming

closer rather than pulling apart. The presenter knows something that the audience does not and they are

asking the presenter for information. In return the presenter has a need for approval through applause,

affirmation through body language, signature on a document, etc. Good presenters talk about what the

audience needs, not what they need for themselves. Chemistry is important with an audience, just as it is

important in one-on-one relationships. Building that chemistry with the audience is often a difficult task

for the presenter.

It is often said that individuals have less than 90 seconds to make a first impression with another

individual. This is true with presenters and their audience too. Their actions within the first 90 seconds

will make or break an audience’s ability to listen and buy-in to the information that they are providing.

Reverend Jesse Jackson once said, “I’ve learned that nervous speakers make people nervous.” If a

presenter is nervous the audience will pick-up on that nervousness and feel sorry for the presenter versus

listening to what that person has to say. So, it is important that presenters have a routine prior to giving

their presentation that helps them to calm their nerves and make a good first impression. Things that

have proven to help presenters to reduce their nervousness and improve first impressions include: taking

a brisk walk just before the presentation; continually telling yourself, as the presenter, that you have the

confidence in the material due to your knowledge of the subject; and creating one’s own perception of

leadership with the audience. Presenters are in control of the audience and need to use that control to

their advantage to help reduce their stress and nervousness. Presenters need to remember that by sharing

what they do know and not what they don’t know and opening up rather than withholding information

will only boost their own energy level and confidence, which projects positively on the audience.

Boring speakers put audiences to sleep and allow them to daydream away from the topic. Most people

have an attention span of less than nine seconds before daydreaming occurs, so presenters must keep the

topic fresh and energized. It is advised that presenters stay away from lecterns and podiums and move

around the audience. By moving away from the lectern and/or podium presenters are showing their

confidence in the subject matter and removing barriers between them and the audience. It also proves

that the presenter is alive and it keeps the audience awake. Presenters maintaining eye contact with all

audience members is important as they will be able to tell whether people are really listening, which may

result in changing up portions of the presentation in order to keep the audience interested. Speaking with

inflection in one’s voice also keeps the audience’s attention, as they are not sure what will be said next or

how it will be said. Asking for the audience’s participation is always a good way to keep them interested

too. They will be waiting to see if the presenter asks them to participate and want to be prepared.

Remember that presentations are all about the audience. Presenters are advised to start with an issue or

opportunity that is of direct concern to them, provide them with a different point of view or a different

way of looking at the issue, back it up with evidence, offer a resolution or an idea and then suggest the

next step. Keep in mind that presenters will never make an enemy by ending on time or sooner. Shorter

presentations that get to the point early are the trend of the times. So give the audience the gift of time by ending earlier or on time.

Question and answer sessions at the end of the presentation should be included in the total presentation

time. Good presenters anticipate what questions they will likely be asked and plan accordingly.

Executives typically ask questions that they already know the answers to. However, they want to know if

the presenter knows. Executives often think through the minds of their customers and presenters should

too. So, relating a question to a specific experience may show credibility as long as the presenter keeps

to the topic and does not stray too far away from the question. If the presenter doesn’t know the answer

to the question, it is okay to say so and get back to the person with an answer. However, if this is done, it

is strongly advised that the presenter do so as soon as possible. That weighs more on one’s credibility as

a subject matter expert compared to anything else. The best advice is to prepare for questions as much as

one prepared for the original presentation.

For additional information on this topic or if you need employee training on how to give presentations,

please contact New Focus HR, LLC.

Written By: Kristen Shingleton, M.B.A., CCP
President, New Focus HR LLC

New Focus HR





New Focus HR is a human resources consulting and training company that services all organizations. Our expert team collaborates with businesses to attract, motivate, retrain and retain their biggest assets, employees. While engaged with an organization, our focus is to find solutions that improve the company’s internal HR-related practices while increasing results at the same time! Our focus. Your results.