The HR Juggler

Presenting HR

Posted on: July 17, 2011

Last week was all about presentations for me. On Wednesday, I delivered a presentation to 100 of our division’s most senior managers, on the requested topic of HR: Our Philosophy, Our Strategy and Our Expectations. On Friday I went into my daughter’s reception class and talked to a class of 5-year-olds about my job and introduced them to the concept of HR.

Two very different audiences, two very different presentations. Yet some of the learning was the same –

  • People love pictures. In both presentations I included a lot of pictures, with minimal bullet points. This made a huge difference with how the audiences engaged with the presentations and helped prompt me with the points I wanted to make
  • Meet your audience where they are. In both of these instances I thought quite carefully about what the audience’s prior knowledge of the subject was and what their preconceptions might be. In the case of my colleagues at the senior managers conference, I was also honest with myself about what their current frustrations were likely to be and worked to address them
  • Simplicity is fine. HR isn’t complicated, it is only us as HR professionals who sometimes contrive to make it seem so. If I can’t explain what my team do simply and clearly, without jargon, then shame on me
  • Be credible and honest. Don’t over-promise, over-egg your strategy or exaggerate your achievements…nothing loses your audience more quickly
  • Engage with your audience. Unsurprisingly the children were far more vocal than the adults. It was so sweet watching them stretch their arms in the air, desperate to ask a question, or more often, make a statement to contribute.
  • Choose the key messages you want to emphasise and accept that people won’t remember more than a few key points. Shorter and more succinct  is often sweeter, particularly if you are speaking towards the end of the day, as I was on both occasions 😉
  • Prepare well and practise, so that you feel as confident as you can be
  • Smile
  • Breathe
  • Slow down
  • Be positive!
  • Enjoy your moment, even if like me, presenting is not your most natural mode of communication 🙂

I really enjoyed both experiences and felt like I learned a lot through delivering both presentations. I’d love to hear what you think and what your learning has been from any similar situations.

6 Responses to "Presenting HR"

You’ve had a great week, and learned loads and shared loads. When I’m asked to talk with a group I try and use just a few, a very few images to illustrate the conversation. They can have all the words, charts and bullets they want after – it’s the story and the occasional relevant picture they recall. And sometimes the song.

Well done Alison – great stuff

Thanks Doug, appreciate the lovely comments as always.

This is a fantastic post Alison and a great reminder. I love the striking difference between your two audiences and yet how the elements of giving a great presentation remain the same! I presented for the first time in a little while last week (for an academic assessment), and used pretty much all the tips you mention. The response from my assessor: “bloody brilliant”! Enough said. Agree with Doug – it’s the story they remember. I didn’t sing any songs at mine, maybe next time
🙂 Alison

How lovely to see you back in my comments section – thank you! Sounds like you did a great job, with or without the singing 😉

I’m intrigued as to what the kids asked, bound to be some brilliant questions in there.

Some of the best advice I ever got about putting together presentations was to stick to one thought one slide. If you put too much info on the slide people will be too busy reading the slides to pick up on the concept you are presenting.

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