I recently had the pleasure of attending AQR’s Breakfast Bite on presentation skills. I don’t mind presenting and it’s definitely something I’ve become more confident in, but I do get nervous beforehand — even if I know exactly what I’m talking about. I tend to use a lot of filler words (um, yea, like) that I’m desperate to beat out of myself. I was excited and curious: how much could be fitted into the allotted two hours?

Charismatic, animated and radiating confidence, Lyn Roseaman was the perfect person to lead the session. To break the ice, we each introduced ourselves and shared our thoughts about a person who, in our opinion, was a good public speaker. Once we’d brainstormed the traits that made these people so great, we started talking about the importance of really knowing your audience, taking the time to know who’s in the room to listen to your presentation and tailoring your message to their framework.

After running through some other tips and tricks (how to command the attention of the room, getting to the nitty gritty of the real purpose of your presentation and developing an anchor phrase) we moved onto some of the more practical activities. The first was to think about what people really hear when you’re presenting.

Lyn asked us to consider our natural speaking voice and then how we could use different tones, volumes and paces to really create impact. Half the room was given the opportunity to put this into practice by reading from a passage, the rest listened and fed back. Our final activity of the morning was centred on body language: this really helped when thinking about how to inject more energy and animation into our debriefs.

I found it a session well worth attending. There were tips, tricks, and hacks to suit every level that can easily be taken forward into future presentations. Now to get practising!