You had me at hello

Claudette Forbes, CAF Consulting

‘You had me at hello’, said Marina Robertson, Senior Director at NPS Group and a mentor at the September Speaker Showcase, in response to a presentation on a subject close to her heart: getting more women into the construction industry. But as we all know, it’s not just what you say in a presentation that matters; how you say it is just as important.

FoL’s Speaker Showcase is a great way for participants to learn how to get their message across, how to win over an audience, and, perhaps most importantly, how to do this with confidence. Participants get three minutes – and three slides – to present a topic of their choice to a group of their peers and two mentors with bags of presenting experience, who then give them tips and feedback in a friendly and constructive way.

Alan Saleh, L&Q

September’s Speaker Showcase was a jam-packed morning of presentations and advice from our two mentors, Marina Robertson and regeneration advisor Claudette Forbes, Director of CAF Consulting.

Attendees presented on a range of subjects, both personal and professional. Sarah-Jane Gwynn, Regional Buyer and Vice Chair of Inspire at L&Q told us why she became a volunteer firefighter. Shalim Uddin, Affordable Housing Coordinator at LB Tower Hamlets, explained what his borough is doing to provide residents with affordable housing. And Diana Phiri-Witty, Regeneration Manager at LB Croydon, told us about joining Black Females in Architecture (BFA) and what being part of this network means to her.

‘It was wonderful to spend the morning with so many talented individuals’, said Marina. ‘They spoke from the heart with warmth, passion and conviction – the future of our city’s built environment is in good hands.’ She and Claudette gave attendees lots of encouraging feedback and advice for future presentations. Here are a few of their top tips:

  • Make less points, slow down, breathe and… pause. This will help you emphasise what you want the audience to take away from your presentation.
  • Think about the language you use and don’t assume the audience knows what you know. Avoid jargon, explain acronyms and use everyday English as much as you can.
  • Don’t overload your slides with too much information, or talk to them while you’re presenting. Every time you look at your slides, you have your back to a third of the audience.
  • Audiences love stories about people because they help them engage with the topic. So make it personal – even if that’s just a case of including a brief anecdote – and it’ll be easier to show your passion for your subject.
  • Make sure your body language suits the style and content of your presentation. Walking around the room or the stage is a great way of raising spirits and generating excitement about your topic – but that approach won’t work if you’re reading from notes or a laptop.
  • Remember, you have a right to be on this stage. Believe in yourself and speak with conviction. This will boost your confidence.
Jacquie Holland, LLDC

The Showcase is part of FoL’s Speaker Diversity Network, which promotes under-represented voices in the built-environment sector, and presenting at the Showcase means you can apply to join our Speaker Bank. Whenever FoL gets a request for speakers from different backgrounds to help diversify events, we offer organisers access to the Speaker Bank – a free-to-use service. While priority for spaces at the Speaker Showcase still goes to people from under-represented groups, everybody’s welcome.

If you’d like some help improving your presentation skills, registration is now open for the 14 January Professional Presentation Skills workshop and the 16 January Speaker Showcase. To find out more about these events, to join the Speaker Bank or to support Future of London’s Speaker Diversity Network, contact Head of Networks Oli Pinch.