Remember when you were first starting your career? Those moments where you put yourself out there not knowing the outcome of your efforts. Will you make a fool of yourself? Will you freeze up? Will you unknowingly have a piece of spinach jammed in your front tooth for the room to see while you deliver your first big presentation?
I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for young folks who put themselves out there. As we all know, it’s not easy.
Our company has a remarkable internship program in which I get to see many young folks beginning their career. We get amazing talent throughout the year and integrate them into our agency matched with mentors to support them. We use the program to find top talent; they use the program to get hands-on experience. A true win-win.
Each year, I get the opportunity to sit in our internship team’s final group presentation where the interns are thrust into the spotlight to share their strategic thinking behind an aspirational marketing campaign they create for one of our active clients. It’s a big room of folks in our agency as the audience and I would imagine it can feel quite intimidating for someone new to the workplace.
I’ve seen many presentations from many interns and feel confident saying there are five core traits I consistently see that impress me from the best of the best. These include:
1) They make eye contact to all participants in the meeting. If it’s 5 people or 25 people, the best seem to make a connection with the entire audience — not a select few.
2) They give natural space for feedback. No matter how nervous they may be (yes, it’s fine and natural to be nervous), they invite feedback.
3) They know their topic inside and out. You can’t fake knowing the topic and this almost always comes out in Q&A.
4) They proactively create a rhythm with their presenting partners. They show respect and make the team around them set up to succeed.
5) They look interested and engaged. While speaking skills matter, I’ve been impressed by plenty of presentations given by not great presenters. It’s most often because they look like they care and are truly passionate about their topic. Body language and overall demeanor speaks volumes about a person at all points of a presentation.
Today, I had the chance to sit in one of our latest presentations which inspired me to write this article. I can happily say all six interns scored high on all of the above.
It’s nice to see a great outcome for the folks who put themselves out there. Well done.