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Karen Edwards Blogger

Effective Communication - Improving Your Presentation Skills

Posted by Karen Edwards | May 20, 2015

Welcome to the May edition of the OWLI blog! Exciting things are happening as our initiative grows! The industry is beginning to recognize the changing landscape of O&P, with articles about the growing number of women in O&P and the Ossur Women’s Leadership Initiative in the O&P Almanac (//, and the OPGA Connection (//

We now have a Twitter page (@OWLIOssur) and a Facebook page (see below for our book giveaway for new Facebook page members). We had our first webinar in March and our second is scheduled for June 30 (more info below). We will soon be sending out a questionnaire to gauge your interest in a national O&P conference for female practitioners. Please join these efforts, speak up, post questions and articles, let us know what types of educational initiatives are important to you, and, most importantly, meet each other. The more we know each other, the more we can support each other and make things happen for the better in O&P! And, of course, please encourage your colleagues, both male and female, to join OWLI and to support our educational initiative.

In this month’s blog we focus on one of my favorite activities, communicating with others. Every day, we present our ideas to other people and we want to be taken seriously and our ideas to be considered equally as valid as the ideas of our co-workers. Interestingly, though women talk almost three times more than men (20,000 words a day for women versus 13,000 for men), studies show that when women are in a meeting situation at work where they are outnumbered by men, the women tend to keep quiet and defer to their male counterparts. Women tend to hold back, waiting for an opportunity to speak, and when they do, are often interrupted by their male co-workers. As Meredith Lapore wrote in her blog on The Grindstone, “Though being quiet may seem like the safer way to play, it won’t help you excel in your career. B - Whitney Johnson, -B founding partner of investment firm Rose Park Advisors, knows that being a listener is an extremely great skill to have, but you need to talk as well. She said, ‘Unless women speak up — and I don’t mean just talk, but get fluent in and remain fluent in a domain of expertise, whether finance, technology, science, fashion, construction, law — the whole idea that women can bring something extra to the table and be game changers won’t happen.’” (//

Whether in a formal business presentation or a one-on-one conversation with co-workers, your effectiveness in communicating is dependent upon several key factors. This month, Marjorie Albohm, Director of Ossur Academy for OA&I, gives us her tips for an effective presentation.

Effective Communication – Improving Your Presentation Skills, by Marjorie Albohm B

Effective communication is one of your most powerful tools. Your voice is your strongest asset! The art of effectively delivering your message in a confident and convincing manner involves skills which need to be practiced and refined throughout your career. Each person has their own individual style and discovering what works best for you is an exciting journey! Women have the strengths of intuition and creativity which contribute greatly to developing and delivering effective presentations and enable you to be effective communicators. 

Selling yourself is the first step and it’s all about perception. Your brand communicates YOU. First impressions DO matter so dressing appropriately for the setting and your audience is the first consideration. Then focus on the four C’s – consistency, clarity, credibility, and confidence.

Preparation is one of the most important aspects of effective communication. Whether you’re speaking to one person, a small group, or a room full of hundreds of people, your preparation should be the same – thorough and detailed.

Analyze your audience. What is their background? What is their education? What are their expectations regarding your presentation? What are their biases? What obstacles exist regarding what you are proposing? What objections will they have?   These are just a few things to consider. Doing thorough research on who you’re presenting to allows you to become familiar with your audience in advance and gives you an understanding of how best to develop your message.

Effective organization of your presentation is critical to delivering a convincing message. Determine how much time you have and how much your audience knows/needs to know about the topic.  When putting your presentation together, start at the end. What do you want the take away to be? Whether you’re trying to sell a product, program, theory or philosophy – what do you want your audience to walk away with? What’s in it for them?  Next, develop 3 key points to support that take away. One point should reference evidence, research or science. One should demonstrate facts, with statistics and/or value through analytics. One should illustrate a case study, real life example or personal experience. Using more than 3 points is overload and detracts from the focus of the take away. State a brief objective, focus and/or mission. And lastly develop an introduction. Be creative and connect with your audience. Grab their attention! Reverse the order for your actual presentation and you’re ready to go!

Don’t overuse presentation tools.  PowerPoint, videos, etc. are designed to enhance your presentation, NOT replace YOU! Use them to support and/or emphasize the points you want to make. Keep the content to three points per slide. And, don’t read the slides. Your audience can do that for themselves!

Question and answer sessions can be intimidating. Anticipate what questions may be asked and prepare accordingly. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, but will find the answer for you”. That’s a lot better than trying to make up an answer! Take questions from all attendees. Listen to the entire question. Be ready to pose questions if none are asked. Restate your objective. Control the audience. And once again, prepare and know your material so you’re comfortable in that Q&A setting.

Edit yourself! You can’t tell your audience everything and as we all know, people stop listening to a rambling speaker. It’s also common to talk faster when you’re presenting. Pay attention to pace and slow down. Stick to your points and keep your presentation focused.

Your presentation style is all about YOU! Body language can be an effective form of communication but it can also be a distraction. Too many extraneous movements or shifting weight back and forth may indicate nervousness. Practice in front of a mirror to evaluate and refine your style. Establish eye contact with your audience, always! And move your eye contact from one person to the next. Never focus on just one person. Use your voice to engage people, for emphasis, and for effect.  Tone changes, pace and volume are important tools. Nervousness is common no matter how seasoned a presenter you may be. Preparation is the best defense. Knowing your exact goals and messaging allows you to maintain control and direction of the presentation and conversation. And practice!!

Post presentation analysis is an important step in continuous improvement. Spend time reviewing the pluses and minuses of your presentation and identify ways to make it stronger and more effective. If you have trusted colleagues with you, ask for their constructive criticism also.

Learning from others is an extremely useful tool. I find myself analyzing the presentation styles and skills of everyone I listen to, and borrowing lots of pearls. There is always so much that we can learn from others!

Thanks, Marjorie, for your insights and for being our blogger this month! Next month we will highlight another female leader in O&P.


NEXT WEBINAR: Our next webinar will be Tuesday, June 30 at 1pm EDT and we have scored a very special guest speaker, Elizabeth Loverso, VP of Product Development at Red Storm Entertainment. Red Storm is a prominent video game creation company located in Raleigh, NC. They produce such top-selling titles as Far Cry, Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six and all of the Tom Clancy novel-based games. Elizabeth is also married to CPO Frank Loverso. Elizabeth will speak on “Playing to Win in a Man’s World.” You do NOT want to miss this one!! Invitations will be sent out soon!

JOIN OUR FACEBOOK PAGE AND WIN A COPY OF “LEAN IN”:  Be sure to become a member of our Facebook page (search for Ossur Women’s Leadership Initiative). The next five people to join before June 15 will receive a copy of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.”

Thanks for being a part of OWLI and for being a leader in your field!

Until June,

Karen Edwards

Director, Össur Women’s Leadership Initiative

OWLI Quote of the Month:  We are already witnessing a global shift toward leadership values and abilities traditionally considered feminine, especially collaboration and empathy. So as more women join and lead the conversation, not just in media but in every industry, the better off we'll all be, women and men alike.  – Arianna Huffington


Talk to us!! Your feedback is welcomed and encouraged! Please let us know what you think of our initiative, share your ideas, share your victories, or just say “hi” by emailing us at And follow us on Twitter @OWLIOssur and on Facebook at Ossur Women’s Leadership Initiative.