Jason Lauritsen - Crushing talent dogma to free human potential

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Style Matters in HR

Today, I attended a seminar.  My schedule is busy, so I try to chose wisely how I spend my time.  The topic was of interest to me.  The speaker was flown in and touted as an expert.  I had high expectations.  My mistake.

Here’s a short summary of my experience of the session:

  • The presenter seems like a smart guy who clearly knows his stuff.
  • The presenter is also a guy who has some great experience and has probably done some good work.
  • The topic was interesting and a lot of content was shared.
  • I left early because the overall presentation design and delivery was terrible. 
Today should have been an engaging, educational experience for me where I took away great lessons to help my organization.  BUT, because the presenter lacked some very basic presentation skills, I lost out.  That sucks.  Maybe I’m lazy that way, but if I feel like I’m having to work as hard as the presenter to extract the meaningful information from the session, I check out.  Don’t get me wrong, I made a couple of notes, but it could have been so much more.  
All too often, presenters assume that if they put together powerpoint slides with tons of data, that it doesn’t matter how they deliver it or how polished the presentation is.  WRONG.  This is a trap that I’ve seen HR pros and others fall into over and over.  They assume that they don’t need to work hard on presentation design when it’s an internal presentation.  They assume that style doesn’t matter.  In fact, I’ve even heard HR folks criticize others who invest in style as if it’s cheating or something.  This makes for rambling, data overkill presentations that are ineffective at best or credibility killers at worst. Don’t do it.   
If you want to stand out as a rock star in HR, invest your energy and time in knocking presentations out of the park.  (Note: A presentation doesn’t have to be in front of a large audience.  It can be simply presenting an business case or idea to your boss.)  Here’s how it’s done.
  1. Study how to design great presentations (there’s lots of online resources out there) and put that to work.  
  2. Write out the speaking part of your presentation word for word. 
  3. Revise those words until they are just right.  
  4. Then, rehearse until you can do it in your sleep.  This programs the words into your brain so when you make the presentation, even if you are nervous, the words will be there.  
  5. Finally, find a couple people you respect and do the presentation for them and have them give you some critical feedback.  Use that feedback to tweak things to make it better.  
  6. Dazzle your audience.   
Taking the time to put a little style and polish in your approach will set you apart from your peers.  You don’t need to have the most experience or knowledge to seize this advantage.  Great presentations build credibility and credibility puts you in the game.
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  1. stuart chittenden

    I was recently at a lunch with a keynote speaker who clearly had credibility, experience and intelligence. But after the first few slides I couldn't help but focus on the awful visual presentation. I actually think he pitched his material quite well in terms of alignment to the level of understanding in the audience, but it was a lackluster presentation. It is a shame, but it is true: Being a content expert is one thing, but if you cannot present it, then you fail as a communicator.

Jason Lauritsen