A few weeks ago, “WE” hosted Rita Gallaway Williams at Prezi’s beautiful presentation space for a mini-communication boot camp. Rita’s inspiring discussion on how powerful presentation skills can be in the workplace hit home for me, especially since I was gearing up for a large client pitch the next morning and was, needless to say, a bit nervous.
Rita opened with a discussion on content, which is where most people tend to focus their presentation efforts. I was surprised to hear that people are motivated 20% by content and 80% by presentation – it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it! This means focusing efforts on practicing body language, eye contact and sentence structure. Did you know that you lose 1/3 of your audience after word 11, half of your audience by word 13, and 85% by the time you’ve hit word 18?
Rita's handout has been incredibly valuable for practicing short, impactful statements and appropriate body language.
My biggest take-away from the presentation was a discussion on how women can demean their ideas through speech patterns. How often do you use the opener, “I just wanted to…” or phrase your thought as a question versus a strong statement? I know that I am often guilty of this. The women in our office passed around this great article about how women undermine their ability to communicate, and I am now working on making a conscious effort to break bad habits.
Special thanks to Rita for a wonderful presentation and several great tips on how women can use verbal communication to be more effective in the workplace. Hope to see you all at the next event!