PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

I was asked this week what real-world presentation challenges I thought business school students should know about.

One that came to mind right away was the challenge of standing out while fitting in.

Particularly in large organizations, presentations are continuous.  On any given day they are taking place in conference rooms all over a corporate campus.  Most are forgotten in less time than it took to deliver them.

Any presenter who can stand out in the midst of this endless parade is going to personally benefit. 

The problem is that great forces demanding conformity are at play.  Inevitably, there is “the way we do it here.”  That set of conventions, whatever it involves, is ruthlessly enforced by peer pressure.  From pre-presentation warnings to post-presentation criticism, the message is clear: “Stick to the way we all present.”

Wholesale rebellion is likely to be a career-limiting move.  But, slavish conformity also limits a career—just more slowly and in a less obvious way.

What is the solution?  Push the boundaries of convention a little bit with every opportunity.  Inject creativity while respecting culture.  Wisely experiment.  The people I know who have taken this measured approach started out being seen as a bit different and ended up being recognized as a bit special.

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