This post was written by one of our excellent Entrepreneurs in Residence and mentor William Laird.
Most students are very busy in University learning their subjects. Researching details for a project or developing the details of their Business plan. In the end, they need to sell the results of their work to clients for acceptance or professors for a grade. It’s the same outside of the University when you are looking for a job.
When you finish your project, you and your team need to be prepared to speak, but speaking skills are not included in your course, and probably not required in your engineering or business curriculum. But speaking to sell yourself or your ideas is a critical soft skill you and your team need. How do you acquire this critical skill? Taking another class doesn’t seem to be an efficient method and is seldom focused on this skill of selling your ideas.
I have been assisting students in team projects for the past year. I pay special attention to their presentations at the end of their Spotlight Presentations or Project Presentations. I have made some observations I can share with you. I have been a Toastmasters for twenty years and I tend to evaluate speakers, evaluation is a critical skill practiced in a Toastmasters meeting.
TIPs for your team presentation based on my observations
Organization and Presentation:
- Select a speaker for each section of the team’s presentation. (Each speaker should feel like he owns the subject area for presentation)
- Establish a lead speaker as Master of Ceremonies (MC). (Usually the Team Leader)
- Best if someone other than speaker to control the PowerPoint Presentation on the computer. (Needs Rehearsal) (Not required)
- MC officially introduce the team members and their subject expertise in the presentation.
- Have all but the first speaker sit down near the podium after introductions.
- At completion of the first speaker’s presentation have either the MC or current speaker introduce the next speaker and the speakers subject and then be seated.
- The MC should return to the podium for a strong close and a thanks to the team members. (Team members should rise)
Typical distractions to avoid:
- Don’t look at the PowerPoint presentation on the projector screen.
- Be still, don’t move, the only movement of feet or hands should be a gesture to highlight a point. (Example the Lincoln Exhibit at Disneyland.)
- Avoid ‘hand talking’ or hand motions without purpose.
- Be prepared well enough to make presentation without notes, looking at computer screen, or looking at the projector screen.
- Avoid ‘Ahs’ and ‘Ums’ and other filler words.
Typical power presentation points:
- Good eye contact, speak to the person you are looking at.
- Know your subject and just talk about it.
- Speak louder to make a point. (Vocal variety rather than monotone)
- Find powerful gestures for key points. (Body movement, hand gesture, or facial expression.)
Many of these TIPS require practice, but practice begins with the next presentation.
Visit Titan Toastmasters Club website to learn more about Toastmasters.