Editor’s weekly: Are you being heard?

On my way home last night I bumped into former Sky News presenter Estelle Matthews who now teaches presentation skills to the likes of company directors, investment bankers and lawyers.

As you would expect I immediately asked her for some top tips to share with you because at some stage in your careers you’ll be expected to do a presentation of some description. Indeed, most law firms test a candidate’s presentation skills during assessment days.

The key to a good presentation is to ensure it has a structure. If the content is all over the place then your audience is likely to switch off. Depending on its length think about introducing some interactive elements. For instance, I gave a talk to some students at Birmingham University yesterday and because it lasted 50 minutes I decided to break it up with a quiz.

If you use slides then only use short bullet points so you’re not tempted to just read them out because again you will bore your audience to tears. Besides, you can always handout additional notes at the end of the presentation. Also, where possible include pictures, tables and diagrams in your slideshow to help keep your audience engaged.

While you’re doing your presentation try to maintain eye contact with all members of the audience even if you’re tempted to focus on just one person. Also, avoid looking down or fidgeting with your hair or jewellery.

Use any humour with caution because not everyone will find your jokes amusing. But if you do fancy yourself as a comedian then self-deprecating humour tends to work best.

Last but not least don’t be afraid to practise in front of the mirror.


PS – don’t forget that the deadline for entering the BPP Law School/Lawyer 2B writing competition is tomorrow (22 January) so you’d better get typing.