Teaching presentation skills is actually a small part of Gina Barnett's practice. Most of her work is devoted to leadership presence and communication excellence. Gina works with a wide range of executives to identify their communication strengths and areas for growth. She helps them to recognize the unconscious habits that get in the way of their objectives, or that prevent them from building effective relationships.

But part of what Gina initially worked on with us at SpotCo was helping us hone our presentation skills. And with that in mind, I've asked her a few questions whose answers might prove useful to you, too:

Most of us haven't had any training in the basics of presentation skills. Can you sum them up into a few things you should always remember to do?
As much as is possible know your audience, what they're expectations are, what they need to know, what they're hoping to find out. Be clear and concise. Find appropriate anecdotes and stories which thematically support your main ideas and connect you with the audience. Think of a presentation as a "conversation," as a way to deliver ideas and solutions. Presenters often think of the audience as the adversary. While an audience may be critically assessing what you are presenting, they are NOT the enemy. Most important--PRACTICE!

What mistakes do you see again and again in training creative people to present ideas to an audience who might not speak the same "language" as them?
None of us speak the exact same language. The challenge is to listen deeply and find common ground. The greatest mistake I see over and over is not listening. The best leaders listen not just to the words spoken, but to the subtext, the temperature of the "room," the atmosphere.

How do you get people to work past the obvious shyness or fear that you must encounter over and over?
Nervousness or fear is totally normal and to be expected before any high stakes presentation. Adrenalin is a powerful hormone! The challenge is not letting it get the better of you. If your attention is focused on what the audience "thinks" of you, the nervousness will only increase. The minute a presenter focuses "out," fixes his or her attention on something other than oneself, nervousness diminishes. There are a number of exercises one can learn that shift focus, tune out distractions, calm nerves, and diminish those inner "self-doubting" voices that can subvert confidence.  

What do you do if you're completely stumped by a question?
Answer honestly. Say either, "I don't understand the question, can you please rephrase it" or, if you don't know the answer, just say so. "I don't have the answer to that, but I'll find out and get back to you as soon as possible." People often assume it undermines their credibility if they say "I don't know," when, in fact, it does just the opposite. It demonstrates confidence.

BIO: A specialist in communications coaching, Barnett International consults for domestic and global multinational corporations such as Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Allianz Global International, HSBC Bank and Credit Suisse, as well as for mid-sized advertising companies such as SpotCo. 

Gina Barnett's cumulative experience of 35 years developing and teaching professional communication skills are provided by Barnett International to an array of domestic and multi-national corporations through specialized programs, seminars, team and individual executive consulting. Barnett International partners with other world-class coaches and consultants to design for clients' needs.

GINA BARNETT on Artful Communication: Redesigning Yourself.

Thursday, March 25, 2010
Helen Mills Theatre
137-139 West 26th Street (between 6th & 7th Aves), NYC

7:00 - 8:30 PM, doors open at 6:30


SPD Members, $15 in advance; if tickets remain the day-of, they will be available for $20 at the door, CASH ONLY

Non-Members, $25 in advance; if tickets remain the day-of, they will be available for $30 at the door, CASH ONLY

Students (full-time) & faculty with valid ID, $10 in advance; if tickets remain the day-of, they will be available for $5 at the door, CASH ONLY

Register in advance (and save $5 off the door price!) by clicking the button above or using the form below by noon on Thursday, March 25th for advance tickets; after noon on the 25th, remaining tickets will be on sale at the event at the door, CASH ONLY.
As usual for SPD Speaker Events, all tickets, and seating, are first come, first served.


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