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Do you know your audience?

Two weeks ago in St Petersburg I was delivering Presentation Skills training to middle managers from a clinical research organisation. They need to be great at communicating, influencing and persuading many different nationalities across the globe.

In this workshop participants are asked to give a three minute presentation, focussing on creating a punchy opening and delivering a really clear message at the end. (The piece in the middle waits for another day.)

I surprised myself. I related a personal story from my early days of presenting. The talk was about developing your career, which I gave to MBA students studying at a prestigious business school (the one I had attended).

One of the evaluation forms said: “This was the most boring presentation I have ever attended.”

I was gutted. My body froze, and went into complete shock. The feedback wasn’t what I was expecting and I went into shame and embarrassment. I can remember my reaction to this day.

Driving home on the motorway I drove very fast, as if in this way I could avoid the pain. I was told exactly how fast by the two policemen who stopped me. This brought me up short. It became the beginning of paying attention to my personal development and my interpersonal skills when engaging with others.

My learning point was this. The presentation had been all about me and what I had learnt from my career. It was not about them.

If you would like to develop skills and avoid similarly painful feedback about your presentation skills, here are three tips for you to consider:

  1. Before your event, carry out an analysis of your audience. Who are they, why are they there, what do they want (or need) to learn?
  2. Turn everything round to be relevant to them, their starting point and their learning needs.
  3. By far the most important thing though is this – think, breathe and truly believe that your audience is important.

The presentation is about them, not you or your organisation.

It is not about explaining the new expenses policy, GDPR or other new legislation, how the IT project must be managed, how the new appraisal system works or anything else.

My more recent experience is this.  If you are respectful with the use of their time, present to their needs, starting point and agenda, you will gain their attention.

Ironically, at the same time, you will achieve the results you and your organisation require too.

Gill How loves to help people develop their professional skills to achieve their career ambitions and help their organisations become more effective. Please get in touch for an exploratory conversation about how her skills could support you or your organisation’s success. She has availability to work as a coach, a specialist trainer or as part of your project team.

Recent feedback from the presentation skills training in Russia includes:

  • Gill is a wonderful trainer! I loved her manner of presenting facts and ideas.
  • Really liked this workshop!!! Very useful
  • I appreciate it that Gill helped create a positive environment conducive to exchange of thoughts and ideas.
  • Thanks a lot for your job. You’re great
  • The trainer was just brilliant! Come back

Gill is delighted to be working with STL as part of their team on the global rollout soft skills training project for their forward thinking clinical research sector client.



Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results


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