• TOPICS
  • EVENTS

    Business Writing and Presentations
    Wed., Sep. 4-Dec. 11, 2019
    6:25-9 p.m. ET
    New York University
    (graduate course)

    Presentation Skills for Introverts®
    Thu., Mar. 26 & Apr. 2, 2020
    6-8:55 p.m. ET
    New York University
    (2-session workshop)

    PAST WEBINARS AVAILABLE ON DEMAND:

    How to "Talk the Talk" at Professional Events (free)
    Columbia University Alumni Career Services

    How to Think on Your Feet: Improv Skills for Business
    Co-facilitators: Nancy Ancowitz and Carl Kissin
    American Management Association

    How to Deliver Powerful Presentations as an Introvert
    American Management Association

    Essential Management Skills for Introverts
    American Management Association

    How to Project Confidence with Demanding People
    American Management Association

    Secrets of Successful Public Speaking
    American Management Association

    SAMPLING OF IN-HOUSE WORKSHOPS:

    Tango for Leaders
    For organizations

    Success Strategies for Introvert Leaders
    National Institutes of Health
    (Workshop for NIH employees only)

  • BOOK REVIEWS
    Publisher's Weekly
    "Best Books"
    The New York Times
    "Currently winning our race for most intriguing book title of 2009 is the oxymoronic “Self-Promotion for Introverts” by Nancy Ancowitz (McGraw Hill). The 'how to' book is filled with tips (rehearse is a favorite). The author’s tone is supportive and she does not argue that introverts should become live wires. But what else would you expect from a book whose subtitle is 'the quiet guide to getting ahead'?"
    The Wall Street Journal
    "…showing how quiet people can turn their innate strengths into an advantage when networking."
    ABC News
    "Best Book Gifts"
    Los Angeles Times
    "Whatever's behind your reluctance to speak out for yourself, this is the first book I've seen with serious research on the topic that leads to a new game plan."
    CIO Insight
    "Must-Read Fall Books for IT Execs"
    Star-Ledger
    "Best New Career Books"
    POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY NEWS DAILY
    "Offers a solid dose of practical advice—alongside humorous anecdotes.... Ancowitz shows introverts how to take advantage of the unique qualities and strengths they can offer."
    The Independent Consultant
    "There is great value in this book, whether you are promoting your own business or consulting practice, or just want to be sure your talents are recognized within your larger organization."
    Small Business Trends
    "Written by an introvert for introverts."
    Ft. Myers Florida Weekly
    "'Self-Promotion for Introverts' is a primer on doing just that—helping 'quiet sorts' assert themselves by using their inherent tendencies in the most effective ways."
    Women and Leadership Australia
    "Pitched perfectly. Our rating: 10/10."

Cool Tool for Public Speakers

I have a cool tool to help you improve your presentation skills. First, what do you do with your hands when you give a presentation? Do you look like an orchestra conductor, a flight attendant giving safety instructions, or more like a mummy?

How about your voice? Does it go up an octave out of nervousness, flatten into a monotone, or do you blast through your entire talk in a single breath because you can’t wait to get it over with?

Instead, I hope that you’re comfortable with public speaking. And that your gestures, voice, and facial expressions are natural and in sync with your message. If not, you can get much more at ease as a speaker by taking classes, hiring a coach, participating in Toastmasters International meetings, and, of course, by getting practice speaking in front of people. Start with small, more accessible speaking gigs at organizations where your knowledge, information, and insights can make a difference (and remember: make your talks all about them).

If you’re an introvert, you may shy away from the spotlight. Many of my clients and students say they would prefer to work behind the scenes or as the second in command and draw less attention to themselves. However, those who want to get ahead dedicate themselves to improving their presentation skills to achieve their success.

When I teach presentation skills, one of the tools my clients and students find most helpful is a self-evaluation sheet I share that contains 30 key criteria to help them isolate the aspects of public speaking they already do well and those they want to improve.

The beauty of breaking down your presentation skills into individual criteria is that once you isolate what you want to work on, you can focus your energy on improving those criteria. It’s often easier just to focus on improving the rate of your speech if you speak too fast and reducing your fidgeting rather than trying to improve everything at once.

Of course, evaluating yourself can be challenging. You may not know how you come across. Regardless, I find that most of my students evaluate their public speaking skills accurately. However, there’s nothing like getting videotaped to see for yourself whether you’re standing up straight, smiling, and speaking in a strong, clear voice.

So are you ready for the cool tool? Print out this story and rate yourself on each of the presentation skills criteria below on a scale of 0 to 5. (Many of these criteria also apply to speaking at meetings and even to interpersonal conversations in case you’d like to rate yourself in those settings too.) Not all of the criteria will apply to every presentation you give—if that’s the case, just write down a zero for no opinion/not applicable. And I’m sure you can list additional criteria that are important to you that I haven’t included. Write those in next to item 20 next to Other.

PRESENTATION SKILLS SELF-EVALUATION TOOL

Rating scale:
(0) No opinion/not applicable
(1) Poor
(2) Fair
(3) Good
(4) Very good
(5) Excellent

Preparing for your presentation:

  1. Audience analysis
  2. Content (e.g., clear message; focused on audience’s interests; timely)
  3. Beginning
  4. Ending
  5. Compelling facts, figures, and/or quotations
  6. Preparing anecdotes
  7. Presentation materials (e.g., whiteboard, PowerPoint, video, handouts, props)
  8. Speaker’s notes (If you use them, how effective are they?)
  9. Rehearsals
  10. Getting sufficient rest beforehand

Delivering your presentation:

  1. Appearance (clothing, accessories, grooming)
  2. Posture
  3. Facial expressions
  4. Eye contact (cultural appropriateness notwithstanding)
  5. Hand gestures (i.e., natural movements; no fidgeting)
  6. Other movements (e.g., getting onstage, walking around during presentation)
  7. Vocal variety (e.g., tone, volume, pace)
  8. Natural vocal pitch (i.e., not higher or lower than your normal speaking voice)
  9. Speaking clearly
  10. Speaking concisely (no rambling)
  11. Minimal verbal filler (e.g., um, er, you know)
  12. Engaging audience
  13. Giving a clear outline of what’s ahead (when applicable)
  14. Telling anecdotes
  15. Using visual aids (i.e., not turning your back to your audience; advancing your slides)
  16. Summarizing key points (when applicable)
  17. Managing Q&A
  18. Handling challenging situations (e.g., technical difficulties, longwinded question askers)
  19. Time management (i.e., sticking to allotted time slot; not rushing)
  20. Other: _____________________________

How did you rate? First take stock of your 4’s and 5’s. What are you already good at as a presenter? Next, pick a few of the criteria with the lowest scores. Make a game plan for improving them. You can do that by focusing on those criteria while you’re rehearsing. The usual means of support—a class and/or a coach—can help as well. Of course, in many settings, you can obtain feedback from your audience.

If you’d like to learn more about public speaking specifically for introverts, you can read more in my book, Self-Promotion for Introverts®. Also check out my blog posts, “Presentation Skills for Introverts: Tiger and the Full Tilt Boogie” and “Public Speaking for Private People.” Here’s to your improved platform skills!

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