PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

When we get asked without warning to speak about something, the first few things out of our mouth can be no better than babble.  Eventually, we get focused and say something intelligent, but we wish we could go back and make a better first impression.

If only we could start out sounding immediately thoughtful while buying ourselves some time to get mentally up to speed

One tried and true way to do this is to lead off with some historical or background information.

Let’s say, for example, we are in a meeting that is supposed to only be about Project X, but the person in charge asks us to talk about the current status of Project Y.  We might start out by saying a couple of things about where Project Y was when the group last met.  You may recall that last month we were having some delivery problems with critical parts.  Two of our sub-contractors were running into raw material shortages.  They were being forced to shut down their operations for several days at a time.

Then, having gotten our mind focused on Project Y by talking about the past (i.e. old news), we could move into comments about its current status (what we were asked to talk about).  I’m happy to report that these problems have been solved.  Our sub-contractors found new sources for their raw materials and they are delivering our supplies on time.  Our deliveries are now on schedule and we are looking at a couple of new opportunities to bid on.

A few pieces of background information may not sound like much, but that’s usually enough to get our minds focused on the topic.  And, as long as we keep it to just a few lines, no one is going to get impatient waiting for us to get to the main point we were asked to address.  The important thing is that we didn’t babble when we first started talking.

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