Is it important for HRD professionals to be effective presenters and speakers?

by Pooja Jha

Yes, it is important for HRD professionals to be effective presenters and speakers.

This is especially true for HR professionals who are often asked to lead meetings, seminars, action learning sessions, and other forms of organisational development programmes and sessions. As a result, all of us should consider honing our public speaking abilities (myself included).

It's also worth going over some of the fundamentals of creating powerful presentation decks. Let's face it: we're often asked to put together PowerPoint presentation decks as HR and learning and growth professionals.

There's a school of thought that says PowerPoint should be used only when absolutely necessary. Slide decks, according to some experts, are both excessive and distracting. They recommend that, if they are used at all, presentations have only a few slides and rely more on visual images rather than text.
PowerPoint, in my opinion, has its position, but it should be used with caution in some circumstances. According to this article by Witt Communications, PowerPoint isn't really successful in circumstances where the speaker is trying to develop a sense of leadership, communicate and interact with the audience, or solicit audience input, where the speaker has minimal preparation time, or where the audience isn't really paying attention that has been subjected to too many presentation decks.

Following are some public speaking tips and tactics, as well as some best practises for designing presentation decks.

Tips and tactics for public speaking

  • Consider the speech's aims and priorities. Who is your target audience, and what are the key points you want to convey to them?

  • Practise the content and, if possible, learn it from the beginning (but resist the urge to memorise it word-for-word). If at all possible, stop using notes, but if you absolutely must, use tiny cue cards (resist the urge to put your entire presentation on the cue cards).

  • Aim for a friendly, welcoming, and engaging conversational style. To create an impact, vary your voice tone, pitch, volume, and other aspects of delivery.

  • For added effect, speak slowly and pause. Allow your words to sink in.

  • But for the occasional short quote or description, don't try to read your notes or slides. Avoid making your talk exactly fit your presentation deck (if you use a presentation at all).

  • Make an effort to be yourself and let your personality come through. Don't force yourself to use gestures, facial expressions, sentences, or voice tones that aren't normal to you.

  • Make your speech relevant to the audience by attempting to comprehend their desires and viewpoints.

  • Share personal anecdotes and funny stories through storytelling.

  • Remind yourself that you're excited, not worried.

  • To add impact, include numbers, figures, and facts, but don't go overboard.

  • Consider taking a public speaking class or joining a Toastmasters club to get input and practise delivering speeches in front of crowds.

  • Make no excuses for the audience (such as a lack of preparation or too much content).

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