The Business Sorority is a membership group for ambitious women in business in the North West. They run various events focused on personal and professional development and aim to create a space where women can inspire, develop and support each other.
“We’re firm believers in building your peer network now, and by bringing together truly exceptional women at similar stages of their career, we can soundboard challenges and celebrate successes together”
Founder Heather and Co-Founder Jen are vivacious, talented and ambitious women who are dedicated to bringing together and developing talented young women. They have already been invited to Downing Street to talk about Women in Business!
I had the privilege of attending their latest event ‘The Sorority Supper Club‘ which included a coaching session on developing presentation skills. I love the idea of learning whilst also connecting with like-minded women in a relaxed setting. The event was held at 1761 in Booth Street Manchester and provided the perfect space for a beautiful 2-course dinner with presentation training inter-dispersed between eating and chatting.
Our speaker Any Johnson ( an ex BBC presenter and journalist) was inspirational and worked the room with his wit and confident charm. He engaged and interacted with the two tables of women attending, sparking a conversation about making yourself HEARD in the workplace. I not only gained some valuable tips in presenting from Andy but also in developing self-belief from the group.
I will share some of these top tips with you:
However confident you are about public speaking it is important to make sure that you are well prepared before delivering a presentation.
Once you are standing up in a room full of people and talking it is easy to get lost in a train of thought if you do not have a structure in mind. Even the most skilled orators who make it seem effortless and natural have prepared well in advance giving them an air of conviction.
Write the content beforehand, practice it, make revisions and take notes. You can either bring in prompt cards on the day or use powerpoint slides so there is no chance of feeling out of your depth! Just make sure you address the audience and don’t look away for too long if you are referring to notes.
2. Structure & Content
During your prep work give the presentation a succinct flow and structure. For example, if you have three keys points you wish to deliver:
- Start with an engaging introduction. This may be an intriguing fact/quote or question to captivate the audience from the beginning.
- Break up the three points into sections which allows room for a break or a Q & A session in between.
- Close with a summary and a final thought with a call to action which will make an impact after you have finished.
The content you create should be tailored to your audience and relevant to their interests. The more time spent researching your audience beforehand the more engaging the presentation will be.
Also, you can make the presentation interactive by asking questions which will maintain attention and establish a connection with the viewers.
Once you start presenting it becomes a performance requiring the same skill as actors on a stage. Get in the zone!
You will need to think about timing if you have an allocated time slot and pacing. Take deep breaths, warm up your voice beforehand and have some room temperature water at your side.
Be mindful of your body language so your delivery is open and confident ( even if inside you are very nervous!) Use the space provided and express yourself with your arms if you feel comfortable doing so. The key is to portray yourself as relaxed and make your audience feel the same in your presence.
Use pauses to emphasise key points and maintain a steady pace to ensure clear diction.
Check out some wonderful speakers on TED talks for inspiration.
One of the topics raised at the event was how we portray ourselves with the use of language. This especially refers to women and our perception at work or in business as a whole. The ladies gave some excellent advice on how to combat feelings of being undervalued.
- In order to be heard, it is important that your choice of words reflects your self-assurance. For example rather than the word ‘just’ use ‘I believe’ when delivering a valid point.
- If someone interrupts you in a meeting try and come back into the conversation with ‘can I finish my point’ or ‘as I was saying’
- If someone says ‘what I think you mean is ..’ respond with ‘as per my previous point..’
- Use the ‘Obama Strategy’ and find a key ally on your team so they can validate your ideas.
As long as you have confidence in your ability and self-worth this will shine when dealing with difficult situations in business.
Not everyone feels comfortable using assertive language but a slight change of tone can make all the difference. I know myself I need to stop apologising all the time even if I have nothing to be sorry for!
The Business Sorority are running lots of more exciting events over the coming months if you would like to attend and meet a lovely group of ladies.
Related post: The power of Networking