An appendix for my PowerPoint slide deck … Check. Slide trackers to show transitions between slides … Check. “Sticky” concepts that the audience will remember … Check. Yes, I was more than ready for my summer intern presentation – thanks to Fuqua.
From day 1 of my internship at Yahoo!, I had a PowerPoint presentation started. Why? Because that’s what a second-year student last year told me to do. They shared that tidbit from their cushy spot on a high-tech information panel last spring. The student wisely shared that it would make things so much easier on us, come end of summer. As a skeptical first-year at the time, I had shrugged off the advice for the moment.
Now, as I prepared for the most important evaluation point in my internship, I remembered that student and his valuable advice. I remembered all the presentations I did throughout the year and how each one had made me fidget a little less and engage the audience more.
I was ready to take control of the room. I shied away from “T-Rex” hands (you know, the kind that appear when you’re presenting and don’t know what to do with your hands, so you awkwardly bend your arms and wrists, keeping them close to your body, to “shield yourself” from the scary audience). I even completely ignored the podium that my colleagues before me had clung to for dear life.
I took the age-old advice I had learned in Toastmasters years before – about telling the audience what you’re going to tell them, telling them, and then telling them what you told them. Except, this time, I took the advice to heart and really did repeat myself until I was sure it sunk in for them. I learned in Management Communications that people really aren’t as enthralled with your pie charts as you are (who knew?) and repetition is never overkill. I watched myself on video three times over the school year and can attest to that fact. On many occasions, even I forgot what I had been talking about until my video self reminded me and snapped me back to attention.
Well, I rocked the presentation and now it was time for the Q&A. All I could remember was: inoculation, inoculation, inoculation! Management Communications Professor Cynthia Edmundson couldn’t have said it enough, but boy am I glad she drilled it into our heads. Being able to predict audience questions was key. I know that having an arsenal of verbal defenses was our team’s saving grace during my Professional Project Communication elective, and it was my ticket to a potential job offer now.
The executives at the front of the room fired questions at me, and I diffused and deflected their concerns like a well-oiled machine. My intern project was a success! I had delivered a presentation worthy of the Fuqua name, and definitely worthy of bragging rights on Twitter:
So thank you classmates, for asking the tough questions during every presentation I made last year; and thank you to the Duke MBA Class of 2011 – you obviously knew what you were talking about. Thank you for teaching as much as you learned.