SIA Women in Security Forum Breakfast at ISC East Shares Public Speaking Techniques for Great Presentations

SIA Women in Security Forum BReakfast at ISC East 2021

On Nov. 18 at ISC East 2021, the Security Industry Association (SIA) Women in Security Forum (WISF) hosted a special breakfast event on public speaking techniques for great presentations.

During this event, offered as a special Thursday edition of WISF’s Wisdom Wednesdays series, attendees enjoyed complimentary breakfast and networking and heard tips and insights on how to present like a pro from panelists Elaine Palome, director of human resources at Axis Communications; Leigh Dow, vice president at Identiv; Chris Peterson, founder and president at Vector Firm; and Kristin Shockley, enterprise segment marketing manager at Genetec. The expert presenters highlighted how to step up your leadership potential by connecting with your audience, projecting confidence and competence, calming your inner voice and negative emotions and creating engaging content.

Here are some tips from the discussion:

Connect With Your Audience

  • First, know your audience so you can provide information that is new and useful to them.
  • Grab your audience’s attention and relate to them early by sharing an anecdote or taking a survey.
  • Focus on storytelling. Often, female presenters may feel the need to be fact-based to build credibility, but stories are what people remember.
  • Don’t apologize! If something goes wrong, the audience probably will not know unless you point it out.
  • Sound like you are having a conversation, not lecturing. Your presentation should seem spontaneous and organic.
  • Use images and graphics to help tell your stories. Reserve text for the notes section of your slide deck, and don’t read the notes during your presentation!

Project Confidence and Competence

  • Structure can be your friend. Outline your talk, the points you want to make and the timeline. Once you’re speaking, you can let go of the exact plan, but keep the backbone to stay on time and on point.
  • Work on your voice quality. Because leadership has been historically male, deep voices are related to leadership skills. We don’t need to try to have low voices, but it’s beneficial to work on improving the richness and resonance of our voices.
  • Be extremely well prepared, know your material inside and out and anticipate what questions the audience will have. Then practice your presentation at least 10 times. Simultaneously with your rehearsal, visualize yourself feeling confident and recognizing, by reading the audience’s reactions, that you are indeed providing them value.
  • Practice your introduction more than anything else. This is what will grab your audience and help you connect with them.

Calm Your Inner Voice and Negative Emotions

  • Before presenting, try asking yourself the following questions:
    • Why do I deserve to be here? (personal story)
    • Why I am worth listening to? (credibility and experience)
    • What are my insights? (knowledge of subject and interesting angle)
  • Get out there and present often. No speaking engagement is too small if it helps you grow
  • Use a “comfort story.” Have a story you can tell backwards and forwards. Use these stories when you feel your presentation is going off the rails; they can refocus the audience attention and help you reconnect.
  • Do breathing exercises to calm and center yourself before a presentation.
  • Take the pressure off yourself. Have a professional persona you can “step into” when you present.

Create Engaging Content

  • There is no substitute for preparation. Know your audience and goals for the presentation. Start the preparation early.
  • Tell the audience what you are going to tell them, tell it to them and then tell them what you told them.
  • Focus your message. People won’t remember each factoid, but they will remember your take-home message, so make sure it’s clear and that it’s the star of your talk.
  • Don’t lean too much on PowerPoint. You want the audience to focus on you.
  • Think about your cadence and how the presentation flows.
  • The more you do, the more you’ll be able to figure out what works for you.

Tips for Virtual Presentations

  • Know the platform, and practice using it.
  • Make sure you have good lighting.
  • Your eyes should look towards the camera. Arrange your screen(s) so your eyes don’t dart back and forth too much.
  • Get an adjustable desk, or stand if you prefer to stand while presenting.

Tips for Presenting With a Panel

  • Listen to the other panelists before you speak. You don’t want to repeat what others said.
  • Feed off other panelists’ energy, and make it a conversation.
  • Keep in mind that you will have time to cover 4-5 topics at most.
  • Anticipate the questions ahead of time.

And, most importantly:

Be yourself!

Interested in Speaking at a Future SIA or Industry Event?

WISF Speakers bureau

Through the WISF Speakers Bureau, we bring female voices forward to better reflect an evolving industry. This free service helps connect event organizers and media with industry experts. Join the WISF Speakers Bureau as a speaker, or use it to request a speaker to bring diverse perspectives to the conversation and cultivate women in leadership roles.