Good presentation skills require organisation and confidence. If these two essential items are not ticked off, then it’s time you looked at developing presentation skills. This type of personal development work will really assist you to develop first more confidence, which is the key. Then, by you getting organised, well presented and ultimately building self-esteem, those dream jobs will appear and your ambitions will be realised!

Being well presented in the workplace – in a presentation, in a meeting, during a discussion with a colleague or client is essential. If your career matters to you – develop your presentation skills!

A presenter or staff member is given an added advantage over someone who is less than polished in public speaking (i.e. someone who actually avoids it like the plague), when he or she can get up and deliver a well-constructed, confident presentation in front of a group of colleagues.

Superiors notice the confident approach, which translates into other parts of their role. Staff who are highly skilled in their area of expertise, but hate public speaking, will still be appreciated, but they may just get more kudos and more accolades if they can articulate their approaches and knowledge in a more confident manner.

“Being well presented in the workplace – in a presentation, in a meeting, during a discussion with a colleague or client is essential. If your career matters to you – develop your presentation skills!”

Presentation and public speaking skills are “learnt” skills – by working on these skills, the quiet and shy person can learn to present with confidence and evidentially “Find their voice”.

Where do Presentation Skills have an impact in the Workplace?

Presentation skills will help in the following workplace or professional circumstances:

  • At interviews, as the interviewer or interviewee
  • At meetings, face to face or in a conference call
  • At networking functions, meeting new people or getting to know ones you already know.
  • Speaking to colleagues and staff
  • Delivering a presentation to clients detailing a technical topic or selling a product
  • Presenting at conferences
  • Speaking at large internal meetings
  • Speaking at Chamber of Commerce or Rotary promoting your business
  • Speaking with suppliers
  • Speaking with clients
  • Presenting training
  • Attending training

And so on …

Presentations are Part of the Job

Yes, it’s true. Professionals are expected to give presentations as part of their job. But surely with their education, whether at university or other colleges, delivering a presentation is straightforward? Well, no!

A Gallup poll found that 40% of the population have a fear of speaking in public. It doesn’t matter how big or small the group, there are some people who struggle to give presentations. Does this have an impact on their work? Potentially, yes.

So what are the areas that are important in the workplace, with respect to presentation skills?

“Presentation skills and public speaking are a “learnt” skill – by working on these skills, the quiet and shy person can learn to present with confidence and evidentially “Find their voice””

1. Know Your Audience

Understand what the audience wants to get out of the presentation. You need to be mindful of the people in the meeting or in the conference room. This is so your presentation will meet and exceed the audience’s expectations, and so your audience gets what they came for.

2. Plan your Presentation

Planning the structure of your presentation – and knowing what structure works for your audience – is very important. For your audience to absorb your information, it needs to be delivered in an easy-to-follow format.

3. Make it Interesting

Attention spans are not long, no matter how advanced the audience is. Make sure you’ve included some really interesting points, and vary the type of interest points, as this will help to keep the attention of the meeting.

“A Gallup Poll found that 40% of the population have a fear of speaking in public … Does this have an impact on their work? Potentially, yes”

4. Dress the Part

Your appearance in the workplace matters. Not only are you meant to be a thought leader in your chosen presentation topic, you are also in competition with others wanting to advance. If you are not well presented, with respect to clothes, hair, shoes, paperwork, etc., people will notice and it will have an impact.

5. Show you Care

Your enthusiasm for the topic is essential. If you seem disinterested in the topic you are talking about, your audience will pick up on this.

6. Be Organised

Your audience will appreciate you being organised for a meeting or a presentation. If there are little changes or hiccups, your audience will understand. If you are unorganised and you appear to have not put in an effort, the attendees will not sympathise, and they will get annoyed.

“Make sure you’ve included some really interesting points … this will help to keep the attention of the meeting”

7. Discuss the “Elephant in the Room”

If there is an issue, if something isn’t working, you are experiencing a problem, then make a mention of whatever it is and then move on. If we hold back from discussing something important (which may not have an impact on the meeting topic), then get this discussion done, and then move on. If you don’t, the attendees will be thinking about that rather than the actual topic at hand.

8. Get a Grip on your Nerves

Handling nervousness and building confidence is important – you will struggle to get your message across if you struggle here. Being mindful of how you present at work will really help with your interactions with colleagues and clients. This will ultimately impact on whether you get that important raise, or that desired new job.


Featured Photo Credit: citirecruitment via Compfight cc


Adrienne-McLean-bio-image-Leaders-in-HeelsAdrienne McLean
Adrienne McLean is the Founder of The Speakers Practice, which offers Presentation Skills training program for business people, individuals, teenagers and groups. Adrienne is an Internationally Accredited SpeakersTrainingCamp Instructor and is a Distinguished Toastmaster. Adrienne has studied marketing with Michael Port the author of the Top Business and Marketing book – BookYourselfSolid.

Adrienne, with her experience of growing up in a family business, working in the corporate and small business sector plus building her own business, gives an enthusiastic and practical approach to the benefits of presentation skills development, learning to promote yourself and building a successful business. She is a regular presenter, blogger and a contributing author in four recent business publications.

Follow her via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+

Do you ever feel the ground disappear under you when you have to open your mouth to speak in public? Does your body and voice shake? Do you stop breathing, get dizzy, and feel anxious?

You are NOT ALONE!

In fact, public speaking is rated as one of the top two fears people have. Can you guess what the other is? Other people!

Allow me to conquer that one first. What do people care about the most? Believe it or not, themselves! Knowing that immediately frees one from seeking approval. There is no need for that fear. Of course knowing that and absorbing it organically are two distinct things. Hence Stage Fright!

Here are some simple tips to help you conquer stage fright.

Preparation for your Speech

Know your material as well as you possibly can. Speaking on a subject you are passionate about is the best way to go. You will exude natural enthusiasm when you love a topic. That authenticity connects with your audience big or small.

– Many speakers also use bullet points or power-point presentations to guide them along. That provides the audience with visual aids and makes for a more interesting presentation.

– Prepare your power stance or warrior- pose: Here we stand with our eyes closed and recall a winning moment. A huge YES! When we have it securely in our mind and capture the feeling, we express it with a physical gesture, stamping our feet one at a time with our legs hip distance apart, for example. This programs one to recall that feeling every time the power stance is repeated.

– Spend some time thinking about the purpose of your speech and how that may benefit others. This will allow you to take the focus away from self and focus on the service you are here to provide.

Now that you know your material, have prepared your presentation, have your power stance set and know the service your are providing, you are ready to create it before you even step onto that stage. Begin by thinking about how you would like it to look, how the audience will respond and how you will ideally feel. What is the ideal situation for you? What is the ultimate outcome?

Now that you have that together, go to a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Sit or lie with your back straight. This will allow your channels to open to your creative source of inspiration. With your back straight, breathe in as much air as you can, slowly and gently and breathe out. Keep this going without a pause. Imagine air going through your whole body, from tip to toe in a perfect circle.

Focusing on your breath, begin now to imagine your speech from the very beginning. Visualize yourself getting ready, travelling there easily and effortlessly, finding parking easily and being on stage feeling open and completely relaxed. Imagine the audience responding to you positively and the love you exude coming back to you. Then imagine your outcome and feel the gratitude for your experience.

Open your eyes and come back to the room giving thanks. The only other thing to do now is to choose your wardrobe and decide on hair and make up if you are female. You have already set the scene, now able to relax in full trust.

At The Event

– As you prepare to go on stage, set your Intention to perform brilliantly and to help your audience, achieving your outcome. You may do this by beginning with “I intend to.” and finishing with your Intention.

– Though event organisers usually take care of technical requirements, it is always best to ensure everything is working for your own peace of mind.

– Check your material, wardrobe, hair, and makeup. It should represent your brand, presenting you at your best.

Warm your voice. There are voice exercises you can do to relax your face and warm your vocal cords so that you may project your voice and articulate your statements. One of these exercises requires that you sound mmm continually breathing from your diaphragm. If you do this correctly you will feel a vibration. Vocal warm ups is in a future post.

Now remember your Power Stance? The minute before you launch yourself on stage stamp your feet on the ground with that YES feeling. This will help put you in the right frame of mind and help you claim your ground.

You Are On!

– Feel your nerves come up? Take your time, look at your audience, connect with them eye to eye and breathe! You can channel your nerves into creative expression. Use them. The important ingredient here is that you breathe.

– Use three points on stage to travel to and from. Usually it is either side of the stage and the middle.

– If you are speaking from a lectern, ensure you address the entire audience with your eyes

– Connect with the audience with a joke

– Divulging your feelings sometimes brings the audience closer to you. Do not however, make excuses, such as the accident you had on the way for example

– Any time nerves come up, all you need do is remember the service you are here to provide and how you are helping. That will remove the focus from you. Reminding yourself to breathe is vital also.

– Smile, smile and smile.

– If you experience technical difficulties, just apologies, even make a little joke, it happens to everyone.

– People like people they can relate to, it’s ok to be human.

There you have it! You now have all the ingredients to conquer any public speaking fears. Practice makes perfect. The more you practice these tools the easier it will become. If you meditate regularly, you may experience a total connection with everyone and everything around you. If and when you get to that stage, being on stage or in front of people will not make a difference to you at all. I wish you amazing Success!

Tula Tzoras
Tula TzorasThe Inspiration Genie is here to Unleash Your Full Expression. She is an Author, Speaker, Coach, with a successful acting career behind her, starring in several of Australia’s popular shows. For more information, courses and coaching, please visit


They say the nation comes to a stand still for the Melbourne Cup. Millions of people around the world watch the race on TV, listen on the radio or for a lucky few, are able to dress up and attend the event. Before the race, the nerves of the horse owners, trainers and jockeys must be on a knife edge. We mere mortals, who bet on the outcome have dry mouths and hold our breath until the very end – hoping against hope that it’s our day to celebrate.

For some of us, it’s not a dissimilar experience to public speaking. Just before you go out in front of the crowd, your nerves are on a knife edge, you have a dry mouth, you want a great outcome and you’re probably holding your breath! Confidence is often a little lacking.

Well, here’s five tips to help make public speaking easier for you:

#1 Know your topic

I know this sounds like Public Speaking 101 and it should be. Knowing your topic back to front gives you an inner satisfaction that no matter what happens or whatever is question is asked, you’ve got it covered

#2 Practice, Practice, Practice

Ah, Public Speaking 101a do I hear you say? Well, you would be right. But have you noticed that when you practice, you often sound flat and uninspiring. You put it down to the fact you are practicing and all will be fine at the time. Here’s a tip I read somewhere and I found it extraordinarily helpful. Buy books like In Our Time – The speeches that shaped the modern world and Speeches that changed the world. Pick a speech you know and read it out loud, then read it again with more passion and then do it again. Choose another – get the idea? It teaches you rhythm and passion.

#3 Speak in stories

We’re wired to learn by stories, it’s happened since we were children. Whatever points you feel are particularly important – weave a story around it.

#4 Less is more

When we’re passionate about something we want to tell people every little detail about it. Like anything stylish – less is more.

#5 And the final tip – Breathe

Nerves are natural but to manage the pounding heart and dry mouth, remember to keep breathing.

Pop your content around these 5 points and smile throughout, your confidence will soar and when you hit the finish line, you’ll feel like a winner.

Good luck but I don’t think you’ll need it!

Glenise Anderson

Glenise is the Chief Confidence Chick at Self Confident Women, a personal development company helping women around the world create a better life. She is also the Director of SR Group Pty Ltd, a training and development consultancy assisting corporate companies.

Do you want to find your voice in business and the community?

Lucy Cornell Director of Voice Coach brings the world’s most sophisticated techniques in voice and speaking to the business world to develop vocal presence and power for stronger, more inspired leadership. Lucy specialises in advising CEOs and senior executives of blue chip companies, politicians, orators, barristers and radio and TV presenters. In this post she shares her insights with Global Charity Dress for Success (Leaders in Heels is a proud supporter of Dress for Success Sydney).

Q. Can you tell us a little about your professional and personal background prior to becoming a voice coach?

From an early age, I had always been interested in performance. At school, I would appear on stage singing, drumming and acting. I had a fascination with what makes humans connect, a real calling to teach and a want to support and help people to find a voice. Whilst I had these passions from a young age, it was only later I found out about voice coaching.If you can find a voice that is rich, compassionate, subtle and precise then that is your power in business

Being a voice coach is not a traditional form of study, it is a master apprentice training. I was lucky enough to follow a handful of enigmatic, powerful women internationally who have been involved in the field of voice for performance. My first experience of voice coaching was when I was living in London. I observed voice teachers at the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company and I knew I had found my calling.

On returning to Australia I trained with Isobel Kirk, a master voice teacher and, importantly, found my own voice before learning to coach. I then traveledto New York and trained with Kristin Linklater who is one of a handful of master voice teachers in the world. I am lucky enough to be one of only 200 teachers in the world who is certified to use her techniques. From there I returned to Australia and built my business called Voice Coach, which has adapted that work to coach voices in the business world. I also have a 13 month old daughter, who teaches me about voice, communication and connection every day.

Q. What inspired you to become a Voice Coach?

I remember being being fascinated by a cousin’s interest in the study of facial diagnostics at ten years of age. I had never heard of such a thing but was intrigued to think that you might be able to read subtleties about a person from the markings and shapes of their face. From there on, I began to read people and work on a deeper level where communication is about a more holistic experience than just the words. I also wanted to find a balance between my need to express and my need to help others find a voice.

Q. What difference can how a woman uses her voice make to her career?

It makes all the difference! As humans our voice is our means of communicating who we are and what we need at any moment in time. As adults, our voices have been cultivated and crafted over all our years of being civilised from the age of 1. Our voices as adults are certainly less influential and less expressive than when we were babies. Living in a community we often need permission to say things and women often have issues because of culture and our place in society over history – as our voices are allowed or not allowed to be heard in certain scenarios.

We are now in a phase of humanity which is still relatively new where women are starting to find a voice in the world. Women need to re-learn some of those silencing behaviours our culture has taught us; and assert the natural right that your voice expresses your power. If you can find a voice that is rich, compassionate, subtle and precise then that is your power in business.

Q. What are some of the most common mistakes professional women make with their voice?

They feel like they don’t have a right to speak. This is understandable as it’s deep set and subconscious. Another common mistake would be to let someone else take credit for what they have said. Women don’t naturally have the courage – or feel like they have permission – to declare their successes. It’s also interesting to see the effects of our business culture on women which creates a space where emotion has no place in communication. To me this is nonsense; emotion is an essential currency of communication. Women are such extraordinarily subtle beings who have an ability to do many things; subtly and intellectually – to be heroines – but where does this warrior strength go in business? It seems that there is no currency for the warrior women in business. It’s hard for women to bring this power to business because if they do, they are often cut down for being aggressive by our typical business hierarchy.Emotion is an essential currency of communication

Q. We are grateful that you’re using your voice for our charity’s Dress for Success fundraising event in October – what drew you to support Dress for Success?

Apart from running my own international business (run from Sydney) – my deep desire is to support people who don’t have a voice in the world. This is the essence of what Dress for Success does – not through voice and communication but through giving these women in need of some sense of finding their power.

Q. You’ll be sharing more tips at the event but what’s the biggest tip you would give professional women to better use their voice in business?

One key point I always come back to is a common issue in business – for both men and women – if you can deal with your relationship with your own sense of power, then everything else seems to falls into place from there.

If you’d like to hear Lucy speak, please join us on Thursday October 24 at Robert Walters, Level 53, Governor Phillip Tower, 1 Farrar Place, Sydney from 6-9 pm where you will also enjoy champagne and canapés whilst raising money for Dress for Success Sydney. The event is $30 to attend and you can find out more information here: We’d love to see you there!

Dress for Success Sydney is a registered charity that outfits women in need free of charge, in high quality professional attire and provides practical advice in preparation for job interviews – all to improve the employability of women by increasing confidence and restoring dignity. Y.E.S! Sydney is hosting this event and is a networking, volunteering and fundraising group of professional women in Sydney delivering events all in support of this charity.

For some people, the art of persuasion appears to come naturally, while many of us struggle. However, the principals of persuasive presentation can be learned by any one, and applied to gain consensus, sell an idea or generate support.

Top Tips for Persuasive Communication

1) Do your research, know your audience

Analyse what is important to your addressees, and what will capture their attention. Research each audience member, pre-presentation, and consider their wants, needs, fears and pain points. If there is contention between different parties, you may have to explore different presenting styles and draw on multiple examples to evidence your point and appeal to differing perspectives. Don’t be afraid to stop to ask questions of the audience, or to clarify your point mid-pitch.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done, because he wants to do it. – Dwight Eisenhower

2) Put the audience at the centre of the pitch

Ensure your presentation is phrased in the audience’s language with meaningful benefit statements and real-life perspective. This is about them, not you. Make sure to avoid jargon and technical lingo as longwinded sentences can distract the audience and make you veer off track.

3) Be clear and structured in your approach

Use a basic essay or story structure to organise your presentation; ensuring you have a hook, an introduction, an argument or thesis statement, a body of evidence, and a conclusion that reinforces your argument. Repeat, recap, and reiterate just a handful of key points throughout your pitch or presentation. Don’t confuse them with mixed or multiple messages.

4) Provide a sound argument with clear call-to-action

The key for any persuasive communication is a sound argument (or thesis). The right argument will leave an audience believing the action you are recommending is compelling, and when executed well, indisputable. Furthermore, it can lead the audience to feel that the conclusion is so self-evident, they came to it themselves – “something you want done, because he wants to do it”.

How many presentations have you sat through thinking, “So what? Why are you telling me this? Why should I care?” An argument compels action, or at least debate that will lead to action. Without the right argument, you are only relaying facts and transmitting data. You will either bore your audience, or worse, leave them to draw their own conclusions.

5) Use examples

Evidence is critical – prove your expertise and prove the value of your ideas. Link your examples back to your argument and spell out the connection. Include analogies and case studies that produce emotion, create an impact and support your point. If you can’t find examples specific to the public sector, draw from others from other fields and industries which are facing similar challenges.

6) Deliver an Experience.

A level of interactivity will help maintain the interest of your audience and help manage your own nerves. Utilise questioning techniques and facilitation skills. Capture the attention of your audience by opening with a comment that is funny, startling or thought provoking. Your personal style is an important part of how you engage stakeholders; not just what you say, but how you say it, and the confidence you project.

Explore creative ways of presenting, utilising role plays, simulations, multi-media and storytelling methods. Be aware of your voice, eye contact, gestures, stance and movement, and use them to command attention and create distinctions. You might want to change your management style. Renowned screenwriter Robert McKee believes there are two ways to persuade people; “The first is by using conventional rhetoric… The other way to persuade people—and ultimately a much more powerful way—is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story…”[1]

7) Plan and prepare for difficult questions

The Q&A period post presentation is an opportunity to get immediate feedback on your pitch as well as an opportunity to reinforce your message. Be ready for difficult situations and anticipate the queries likely to arise from your audience. It helps to practice your presentation in front a live audience to cover off any elements you may not have thought of. Ensure you paraphrase the question before jumping in and answering it, and take into account the motivation of the questioner. This will give you time to mentally evaluate the question and crystallise your thoughts.

8) Practice makes perfect

Skills around presenting with impact can be learned, and they improve with practice. Jump at every opportunity you have to present or facilitate in public, whether it is at team meetings, networking events, industry forums or conferences. There are many external organisations and networks you can tap into, such as Toastmasters International. This can provide the opportunity to build skills in a safe environment.


[1] Fryer, B., 2003, Storytelling That Moves People: A Conversation with Screenwriting Coach Robert McKee, Harvard Business Review.


Vanessa Gavan, Founder and Managing Director, Maximus International

For over 15 years, Vanessa has consulted to a range of leading Australian and international organisation to enhance business strategies, improve executive leadership capability, redesign organisation structures and deliver operational performance solutions.

As an entrepreneur and business leader, Vanessa has lived through every business lifecycle and has refined her abilities to inspire, deploy and motivate people to achieve great things.

Vanessa is wholly and personally committed to ensuring every Maximus solution is insightful, agile and delivers real financial return.

In the past 15 years I’ve coached hundreds of male and female executives, CEOs, Olympians and BDMs to present powerfully and engagingly and quite simply there is a difference in the way women present, especially to male oriented audiences.

So, if you’re in a boardroom, pitching for business or find yourself with a microphone, here are my Top 10 Professional Public Speaking Tips for Women.

1. Stop talking about yourself , your company, how passionate you are about your new widget and start talking about the audience. Passion is compelling, but it’s not hard to become the bore at the party if you focus your presentation on your world rather than the client’s; Simple rule: if you’re still talking about yourself after 5 minutes, you have become the self indulgent talking to the self interested

2. Voice matters (1). If you have a high voice, it will only get higher at the exciting bits. The audience will then hear ‘shrill’ not passionate. Practice lowering your tone two thirds of a smidgen (very scientific) and you will have room to move.

3. Voice matters (2). Talking fast is natural with two of your best friends and a bottle of Mumm, but audiences (especially we slower listening men) can’t take it all in. The issue is if it’s too quick and we don’t get it, it’s as if you haven’t said it at all. Add three times the number of pauses as you think normal. Don’t slow your delivery –just add pauses.

4. Don’t Flirt. Yes, I know this is obvious in a professional setting, but it still happens. The hair flick, sexy voice and constantly calling the client by his first name may work for some but it is not perceived by the majority as necessary for professional business engagement.

5. Watch the Bling – I’ve seen presentations where the presenter had 3 bracelets, 4 rings, 2 necklaces and a wrap that was constantly being re-arranged. It just becomes a total distraction – and sometimes a noisy one with a remote mouse being waved around as well.

6. Tell stories – It amazes me that so many women are great storytellers around the dinner table, yet become more formal in a business setting and leave all that natural storytelling ability behind. Tell a story about a client’s result, rather than putting up slides about functionality. Tell a story about your research into the client’s goals, rather than just boring facts about productivity, market share etc.

7. Talk outcomes, not process. It depends on your role, but men tend to be better at saying ‘right this is the bottom line – if you pay us $50K per month, we’re going to cut 15% off your total expenditure over 2 years. Many women enjoy discussing how you’ll get there with all the nuances and variables with the presumption that the outcome is obvious. Again, we of the Y chromosome need to hear it, plain and simple.

8. Don’t overcompensate. You don’t need to be blokier or dress down or change your language if it’s just not you. They can tell and you lose the power of authenticity.

9. Use visuals and creativity not boring slides. Use pictures, images, YouTube videos to make your case. It freshens up the whole presentation and makes you stand out.

10. Practise. Yes, I know it’s boring but there are presenters that will spend three hours checking the spreadsheets, preparing their choice of lipstick, hairstyle, skirt, heels and 20 minutes rehearsing their content, If you don’t rehearse, where do you find your mistakes?

Elliot Epstein

As CEO of Salient Communication, Elliot is a sought after keynote speaker and corporate trainer who has coached and trained over 4000 people including CEOs, senior management and successful sales teams throughout Australasia and Asia including Hong Kong and Singapore.

Elliot is a specialist sales speaker for high profile corporates having spoken at over 1500 conferences, workshops and break-out sessions on presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching for leading companies such as HP, Alcatel – Lucent, Commonwealth Bank, Hitachi, Computershare and SEEK. He is renowned for ensuring presentations are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.

He is an advisory Board Member of Generation –e, one of Australia’s fastest growing IT companies.

Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two expensive children.