Thursday, May 28, 2009

The how to's of a Powerful Presentation

Presentations have become an integral part of the corporate culture. In fact for every new initiative, bosses ask for a detailed presentation. A few tips on how to make a good and impressive presentation…

Presentations have become a part of our daily work schedule. Each one of us has to prepare a presentation either for internal assignments or for clients or to demonstrate a new initiative. Here are a few points that you can remember before starting to make a presentation,

Know your topic:
The worst mistake to do is to make a presentation on a topic which you do not know. You need to know your subject thoroughly and you must be enthusiastic about it.

Start thinking of your own professional and personal experiences to tie to the topic. It’s easier to speak from the personal perspective. It also helps increase rapport and credibility with your audience.

With today’s technological advancements, visuals are being integrated into presentations of all types. Here are a few guidelines to help you develop successful visuals in your presentations:

While developing content, think about how you want to present your material graphically
You will devise a crisper presentation when you do content and visuals as a one-step process. Also, you will not risk putting off the visuals until the last minute and ending up with less than you need.

Create visuals that signal quality.
This puts the best face on your presentation, your company, your business, and you. If your company provides master slides, use them. If not, use PowerPoint templates.

Make readability a top priority.
Select clean, simple fonts. Arial, Tahoma and New Times Roman are the best choices. Select point sizes that people can easily read. In person presentations call for 44-point heads and 32-point type for body copy. Reduce the font size if you are doing a web-conference and your visuals are available on a desktop monitor.

Limit the amount of text on a slide.
Do not use more than six words on one line, and no more than six lines of text on one slide.

Go for diversity in your slides.
Consider charts, diagrams, tables, clip art, and sound galleries. But practice restraint. With so many bells and whistles available, the temptation to keep adding multimedia is great.

Use animation to uphold interest.
If you’re presenting bulleted information, for instance, use the dim function. This helps sustain audience attention.

It must be said that sound topic knowledge even aided with visuals is not enough for making a persuasive presentation. Here are some more tips on bringing your presentation alive for your audience:

You should put your main points on cards and build your talk from these outlines.
Otherwise, you will fall into the trap of reading to your audience, weakening the all-important human connection. There are occasions when writing a speech makes sense, particularly if there is policy or legal issues involved. Still, you want to write like you talk.

When rehearsing, remember to actually “speak the speech.”
Just running through it mentally is not enough. Rehearse your speech alone, with others, or by using an audio or video tape. Better yet, do all three.

Wrap it up with a productive Question and Answer session.
Have a few questions ready in case the audience does not respond. Start with, “A question I often hear is. . .” This primes the audience to jump in with their own questions.

Most important, know your audience.
Who are they? What are their values? What’s important to them? Why did they invite you to speak?

What views do you have on the same. Share with your peers.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What is leadership, but common sense!

Yes, leadership is nothing but common sense. It is nothing mysterious or something that one must study for years to attain to. In fact, the best leaders are those who have had practical, hands-on experience in being one.

Leadership is a combination of common sense, practical skills and certain behavior that can be discovered and learned.

Roger Fulton wrote a book on Common Sense Leadership which gives solid advice combined with the wise sayings and findings of experts throughout history in aid of those looking to take up, or continue on in a leadership position.

Here are some excerpts from his book and quote selections he used:
Leaders know and understand their people. They treat them with dignity and respect.
Leaders recognize good work as quickly as they recognize poor work.
The best leaders become cooler when the heat is turned up. Crisis is the true test of a person’s leadership ability.
The employer generally gets the employees he deserves.—Sir Walter Gibley
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.—Martin Luther King, Jr.
The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated.—William James

Leadership is common sense, yes, but it also take practical thinking to positively apply the common sense one has got. Throw the light of your common sense on this topic and let the light spread 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Have some office dressing sense

Rightly said, ‘Our attire, appearance and conduct is reflective of the corporate image’. If you are concerned about your career, you will be more concerned with looking professional than looking fashionable or decked out.

In today’s world of cut-throat competition and spirited professionals, office wear doesn’t mean just the formal wear. One has to carefully pick the right attire for all office related events, be it product launches, office parties, business lunches or office picnic.

Getting dressed for the office doesn’t mean leaving your personal style behind; yet it is important not to be a fashion victim at work. Make sure your attire is pleasing and in accordance with your functional imperatives.

Your everyday work wear speaks volumes about your attitude and commitment to work. Your goal to getting dressed for work is to project a professional, competent image, regardless of your employment level or career path. While formal attire helps present a sharp, smart and service oriented executive; needless to say, casual wear reflects a nonchalant laidback attitude.

Some organisations encourage employees to dress as well or better than their customers, especially for employees who meet clients. It doesn’t come as a surprise that more and more companies are joining the bandwagon of ‘uniform for employees’.

Best bet: Formal trousers/pants, button-down shirts with tie, belt and shoes that are in good condition, neatly groomed hair. Sarees, salwar suits, churidar kurta, trouser with striped shirts, scarf, manicured nails, conservative hair, jewellery and makeup for her.

Career killer: Not wearing a belt, mismatched pair of socks, wornout shoes, shirts showing gap between buttonholes, body odour, etc.

What is a perfect ‘meet the client’ outfit? The answer lies in taking extra care to dress up when you are heading for a business meet. Select clean, pressed and wrinkle-free clothes for formal business attire.

Your outfit should communicate professionalism. Make sure you pick good quality clothes that boost your confidence and determination. It helps to know which look gives you a polished, professional look.

Best bet: Formal attire, pantsuits, blazers or jackets, tie, belt, business shoes, etc. Indian wear or western formals which include formal pants or skirts (formal, knee length or longer) with smart shirts/tops for her.

Career killer: Shabby appearance, stained or wrinkled clothes, florescent colours, wild prints, athletic shoes, sleeves foldedup, loud make-up, messy hair-dos, etc.

While professionals and organisation are still grappling to give a definition to Friday Dressing, the first and foremost concern is professionalism.

Casual Friday is a welcome change, with employees getting a chance to put aside their formal trousers and tie to slip into corduroys or Khaki pants. Though denim, T-shirts and flip-flops are acceptable only in the most casual of work environments, more and more offices are accepting trendy wear.

But before you dress casual, check to make sure you don’t have any meetings that require formal business attire. Shweta S, a media professional says, “For Friday dressing I ask myself if I can meet the CEO today without being embarrassed about what I’m wearing?”

Best bet: Smart casuals which include trousers/corduroys/skirts. Company logo polo and jeans. Dressy pants and a blouse, sleek jersey knits, skirts and tops, matching accessories.

Career killer: Capri/threefourths, Bermudas, silver sneakers, revealing clothes, slogan T-shirts, miniskirts, spaghetti straps

A party is a party but an official party has a professional and a formal look attached with it. Office party is time to go bling but keep in mind that you don’t overdo it.

“Official parties are a great way to interact with your co-workers and to know them more closely; one must take care of things that can make you the topic of discussion,” says Kunal Shroff, a sales manager.

Office parties are a time to relax and rejuvenate. What you wear for an office party should be carefully selected to accentuate your personality. The key is to look graceful yet professional.

Best bet: Safest bet is to wear black; jeans and stylish t-shirt/top, matching accessories.

Career killer: Sexy outfits, revealing clothes, loud streaked hair, clothes you can’t carry, your nightclub-avatar.

Time to flaunt your colourful tees and sporty footwear! You can easily be yourself during office picnics but don’t go over-the-top.

“Many employees tend to get too casual in their attitude when they are away from the formal office environ and face flak for their activities,” says S Ram, an HR professional.

Best bet: Comfortable clothes, jeans and tees, jacket, caps, sneakers, etc.

Career killer: See-through tops, crop tops, miniskirts, etc.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How to cope with being laid off

If you’ve been laid off and you’re looking for a new job, then this posting is for you. Looking for a new job after you have been laid off can be very stressful. Grief is not a state of mind that will make you a strong candidate for an opportunity - yet it’s very normal to grieve when you lose your job. After all, there’s been a lot of management buzz in the past 5 years about “employee engagement” and “talent retention” - companies have been working hard to motivate employees and encourage their commitment. Suddenly the language shifted in the last nine months. Now instead of talking about the human aspects of “commitment” and “retention”, management has been talking about the sterile concepts of “reducing headcount” and “cutting costs.” To the individual employee the shift in language can feel harsh and isolating - no wonder people experience grief when they are let go!

I know how it feels, because I have been laid off twice in my career and had to pull myself together and go out into the marketplace to find a new job opportunity. I can honestly say that each time I have landed in a better place - but only after I sorted through my feelings about the layoff and was able to set aside the negative emotions and approach the marketplace with interest and optimism. It’s so hard to meet a potential new boss and convince him/her that you are really excited about a new opportunity if you are still frustrated about losing your old job. Yet we all know that a hiring manager is going to be more attracted to candidates that are upbeat and positive. This quote by Jim Rohn sums up this imperative neatly:

“Don’t bring your need to the marketplace, bring your skill. If you don’t feel well, tell your doctor, but not the marketplace. If you need money, go to the bank, but not the marketplace.”

It’s hard to hide it from a new employer if you have been laid off from your prior role. However, it’s up to you whether or not you come across as negative about the layoff, or as someone who has realistically absorbed the event and is moving forward. I’ve have interviewed candidates who are holding onto some frustration over having been laid off. They usually make it plain that they are only looking for a job because they were laid off from their prior position. Their frustration over the layoff typically sucks the positive energy out of the interview session and often prevents them from moving forward. On the other hand I have interviewed candidates who were laid off and are able to explain that they understand the circumstances that necessitated the layoffs, what they learned from the situation, and where they are hoping to go in the future.

If you can demonstrate that you learned something useful and you’re looking toward the future, it is very attractive to employers. In fact, given the choice of two great, smart candidates - one who has been through a layoff, and one who never has - I will take the individual who has experienced the layoff because I respect that they have been able to bounce back from a tough situation.

So if you’ve been laid off, and you’re looking for a new job don’t despair. Talk to good friends and mentors who can help you cope, and then take your best most positive self out to the marketplace. Is this an unfair thing to ask of you? Possibly - but believe me, it’s good advice! Look for a future posting with specific tips to help you recover.