Savvy Speaks: Top Presentation Strategies for Women

Savvy Speaks: Top Presentation Strategies for Women
Savvy Sisters @savvy_b2b - Wed Jul 13, 2011 @ 04:08AM
Comments: 49



This article has been selected for DeFinis Communications' “Top Presentation Strategies for Women” Blog Carnival. Enjoy posts from a variety of exceptional bloggers at

More and more, as content marketing becomes mainstream for all kinds of businesses, presentation skills are an important part of any marketing arsenal. Whether participating in a live event, webinar, teleclass, or other type of venue, marketers need to develop strong presentation skills. 

After getting this request, we had a lot of conversations about what distinguishes female and male presenters. By and large, we think solid presentation skills transcend gender. But, there are some things that women do to play to their natural communication skills. Today, as part of a themed blog series coordinated by Angela DeFinis of DeFinis communications, the Savvy Sisters share their best presentation tips for women. 



It shouldn't make a difference whether a man is making a presentation or a woman is but too often it does. It's not that women have to have different presentation skills, it's that they have to be hyper vigilant to the skills that already exist and play them against their strengths.


For the most part, (and it's tough to have this discussion without making general statements) women are very good at multi-tasking – so good that it's easy for us to lose focus. If you don't believe me just try meditating for one hour without moving. You'll see how many times thoughts like “I need to do... “ and “When I'm done with this silly exercise, I should...”


Multi-tasking is not necessarily a bad thing unless it leads to distraction and that's the flaw I have too often seen in some women's presentations. They want to cover so much for so many audiences that the message gets cluttered. It gets lost.


My advice? Hone down your message and then hone it down again. Let your presentation sit for a few days and then go back to take a look at it, ask a trusted colleague what they think. Focus like a laser on your main speaking points which should be addressed to one identified audience. Do all you can to remove the clutter which might sound good and might even be nice to know and instead concentrate with deadly accuracy on the message being delivered.  


Think Like a Rockstar.

I used to be terrified of presenting. Even if I was only speaking up during a routine, internal meeting. Each time I had to address a group of people, I would get a knot in my stomach, my voice would rise three octaves, and the pacing of my speech would speed up so quickly that even I couldn't focus on what I was saying. 

Been there, done that? 

Presenting isn't "easy" for me now, but after a brief foray as a backup singer for a band, I learned some new techniques that kept me from having heart failure on stage. Those same techniques can be applied to any type of "performance" - whether your audience is a mass of raving fans or the board of directors:

Know your stuff cold.

Most anxiety for presenters stems from feeling inadequately prepared. Think about it. What do you fear most? Usually it's getting caught without an answer. You've got to know your subject matter inside out, upside down, and backwards. Avoid getting wrapped up in smoke and mirrors. Stick to what you know and your comfort level will soar.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Any musician will tell you that it takes hours (and hours!) of practice to pull off a performance that looks easy on stage. When preparing, don't just read over your notes - stand up and deliver your presentation. If you can get a few people to stand in as your test audience, so much the better. By running through your actual presentation, you'll easily see where the flow gets stuck, wording gets awkward, or information is out of sequence. More importantly, you'll get yourself used to the feeling of speaking the words.

Get Voice Training.

Your voice is a powerful tool. After singing with the band for a few months, I realized that I didn't know how to use my personal instrument properly, so I signed up for some professional voice coaching. What a difference! When you learn to use your voice correctly, you will project a much greater sense of confidence and authority. My new friend Cheryl Dolan has some great posts about the power of voice on her blog at

Give these tips a try and you'll be delivering your presentation like a rock star and having fun doing it!


Ironically as I was thinking about this post and what advice I would give, a female friend on twitter commented that she was giving a presentation in 3 hours and asked for feedback on her opening joke.

I won't repeat the joke here but lets just say it had an element of "bathroom" humor.  I knew what she was trying to do.  She was nervous and trying to lighten the mood.  The problem was bathroom humor isn't her style.  She needed an opening that had her lighthearted style but at the same time established trust with her audience.

I suggested an on topic polling question, "How many of you have ever seen twitter?"  "How many of you have a logon?", etc.  Then use a little humor just to set the stage. "This is a bigger course in Twitter.  If you have a pet or a child who are named for a hashtag then this course is not for you!".  Then give them a destination you plan to reach "in the next 45 minutes I will double your knowledge of twitter."

As opposed to her original bathroom humor opening she has established credibility, lightened the mood and given them a compelling reason to keep listening.

So what is my #1 piece of advice to women speakers?  Don't try to be a man!  Even if your audience is primarily male it doesn't mean you have to work in a bunch of complex sports metaphors and bathroom humor.  You need to be yourself.  Try to keep your analogies and examples to things everyone can related to.


Recently, I have become addicted to TED Talks. I love learning about a variety of topics, and I'm equally intrigued by hearing different presentation styles. 
Foe the most part, I find men and women to be equally compelling as presenters. Some of my facvorite characteristics of strong presentations include:
  • Tell stories: When the topic makes sense. I love hear the stories that the presenters share. Even if  the person is not the most practiced presenter, I can easily get engrossed if the story is heartfelt and real.
  • Use visuals: While I often listen to the TED Talks podcasts, I have often gone online to watch the same talk with the cooresponding images. Sometimes, this can make the presentations. 
  • Be passionate: Without fail, all of TED Talks presenters are passionate about their topic, which in turn makes me care as well. It's infectous! 



What are your best presentation tips?

Do you think men and women face different challenges?

Image Credit:

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