Packaging yourself right

Packaging yourself right

Anyone who thinks exams ended with college has obviously never given a presentation in their professional life. Those of you who do it day in and day out, know what we’re saying. Your days or months—or years—of hard work compressed into one neat file, or PowerPoint presentation (in the same way as your year’s learning goes into an answer script) for what could be your next big leap—or biggest ever fall.

But as every good exam taker will probably assure you, there are rules for doing it right. There’s a way to impress the forbidding boss, hide all that nervousness, anxiety—and if you are clever enough—even a lack of preparation. A quick toolkit.

Dress code

Personal grooming is also very critical to appearance during presentations. Employees should pay attention to cleanliness and attractiveness, ensure their nails are well-manicured (women should not have garishly decorated nails), and hair appropriately styled (avoid non-traditional colours or hair styles), that clothes are neatly ironed, fit properly and are proportionate to the person’s body size and shape (no tight-fitting, exposing or extreme clothing), and that shoes are clean, in good repair and appropriate to a business environment (no stiletto heels, no athletic shoes and no “flip-flops"). Jewellery and fragrance should not be excessive and there should be no visible body piercing, tattoos or other inappropriate decorations, adds Biswas.

Ultimately, what really matters is how confident you feel about your attire, says Kamat. “Just ensure that you wear what you believe makes you look your best. You are in the spotlight—a bunch of people are glaring at you. There is a tendency for people to be conscious when they are making a presentation. The last thing you want to be thinking about is whether or not you look good," he says.

Speech/diction

It won’t really help if you simply look good and precious else. Your speech and diction are “possibly the most important instruments when giving a presentation", says Biswas. First, says Kamat, is to simply internalize the matter through a thorough understanding of what you are speaking about. “Clarity of thought has a direct impact on your speech and diction," he says. Rehearse for your presentation out loud, not just in your mind. “You will realize that so many words that you put on the slide just don’t roll off well when you actually say them out loud. Identify with the help of some office colleagues whether you speak too fast or slow. Neither is great for presentations," he says.

Most importantly, remember that you do not need to speak the Queen’s English. As long as the audience understands the local language or Hindi, you can make a presentation a Hinglish one. Talk in the language that you are most comfortable in. “In my experience, this is the make or break for effective presentation. A lot of people, without being entirely comfortable with the language, try making a presentation in English and goof up as they are too busy seeking words," adds Kamat. You may hmm and haw, in moderation, to help create the necessary pauses during the presentation. Don’t overuse this, it might be distracting to the audience and imply lack of confidence.

Body language

An accompaniment to speech is your body language. Your hand gestures will help in “emphasizing and enumerating points", says Ravi Shankar, senior vice-president HR, HCL Technologies, Delhi. Keep an upright posture, and make sure your body is not tense. An upright posture also ensures a very important aspect of body language—eye contact with the audience. Maintaining eye contact with the audience shows the presenter to be “knowledgeable, trustworthy, sincere, friendly and persuasive", says Shanker. This needs to be bolstered by facial expression that must alter according to content, to show your passion for the subject you are talking about, adds Biswas. However, make sure not to overdo your facial expressions. “Maintain an overall relaxed and pleasant facial expression," says Biswas.

shreya.r@livemint.com

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