November 2015 Issue

3 tips to help CIOs deliver poised presentations

Follow these tips to deliver presentations that will help you persuade customers, gain allies and motivate employees.

How can a CIO excel as a poised and powerful public speaker?

Here are three tips:

Always prepare. You won't get your points across if you mumble and stumble as you speak. Preparation will help you convey confidence and competence. Rehearsing the presentation--out loud--will alert you to words you trip over, ideas that sound awkward and slides that distract from your objective. If your first exposure to your presentation is when you deliver it, your audience will notice the rough edges. And they won't be impressed.

Harness your nervous energy. Sometimes you will feel nervous, but rest assured you're not alone. Many CEOs, professors, consultants and leaders of all kinds feel anxious before or during their presentations. Fortunately, that anxiety is actually a plus. By harnessing it rather than attempting to suppress it, you'll give a more dynamic, energetic presentation, thereby masking evidence of your nervousness. Your insides may be playing hopscotch, but your listeners will never know. Presentation anxiety, it turns out, is a powerful tool.

Never read your presentation. Unless legal or corporate mandates require you to read the presentation, you should aim to know the material well enough to speak conversationally. Few people can read from a script without sounding stilted. In any case, the audience will find it insulting to be read to. You can refer to notes as needed, but don't read them. Similarly, if you'll be using slides, don't read your slides. Limit each slide to just a few words--avoid sentences altogether--and use that text to remind you of what you want to say.

Naomi Karten ( is the author of numerous books and e-books, including Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals.

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