Five Presentation Tips We Can Learn From Katty Kay

When nerves, lack of confidence (or energy) hold you back as a presenter, consider finding a business presenter (a master) you wish to emulate. That way, you can learn from that expert’s delivery techniques and approach and adapt slightly to fit your own unique personality and audiences.  BBC World News presenter, Katty Kay, remains my shero. Kay always sounds informed, excited, passionate, and confident—everything I wish (and hope) to be. This blog outlines the key takeaways I’ve learned about effective business presentation from Katty Kay.

Look (and Sound) Passionate

If we’re tired, drained, and/or nervous; sounding and looking passionate feels impossible. But if we look at this video of Katty Kay, she’s clearly passionate about her topic (her book, “Womenomics“). And that enthusiasm, her desire to evangelize businesses to make the work schedule and structure more conducive to women fitting their jobs around their children, really comes through, even in those pivotal opening and concluding statements. How can we not feel excited (and invested) when our presenter possesses such infectious energy?

Choose Topics Wisely

A few semesters ago, a well-intentioned dean I’d taught for invited me to present on a topic in which I had zero interest or wisdom. Here’s why I politely declined:

  • I lacked the time to prep a long presentation on a topic in which I remained an amateur.
  • I’d not feel confident presenting due to my dire lack of knowledge on the topic.
  • I knew I felt no passion on the subject, either.

If you know (or at least believe in) your subject, your energy remains high, you possess helpful anecdotes to share, and you can convince others to feel engaged, too.

Where Possible, Include Data

In her 2.5 minute presentation on Womenomics, Katty Kay rattles off a ton of interesting facts up top. Women have more degrees and make more buying decisions than men in the states, and yet more women, than men, remain the primary caregivers of children.  While the time restraint of her brief informative presentation removes the ability to attribute her data (all of which I know remains true through my own reporting and research), the facts still set things up sufficiently for us to know what’s at stake (and why we should care).  Some small advice on using data:

  • Ensure you’re gathering the most current and reliable data for optimum executive presence.
  • If data doesn’t exist, create your own through Survey Monkey and other online services.
  • Less is more. Include data, but sparingly. Think of the most pivotal, memorable data and leave the rest.
  • Leave room for other pivotal elements, such as stories, too.

Use Stories

One other reason we may trust (and wish to hear more from) presenters like Kay is she opens up a little through her own story. In this brief presentation, we hear only a slither of her own experience; however, this part (for me, at least) remained the most poignant and memorable. Kay mentions she knows from her own life, she doesn’t want to work long hours. She wants to spend time with her children. But she also knows, she’ll get the work done. A few quick tips on storytelling follow:

  • Be brief. Strive to cap your story in a minute. Rehearse the story multiple times before hand to help boil the message down to its bones.
  • Remain authentic. Don’t make things up. Just speak from the heart.
  • Show conviction. Choose the right story so you can convince your audience to follow your point of view.

Avoid Alienating Your Audience

We also must avoid offending our audience, unless the presentation exists in a debate form; in which case, fire away! In this particular clip, I’ve heard many male MBA students and clients I’ve coached confide the message (which I often use to show best practices) sounds sexist.

They wonder, for instance, why Kay feels all mothers work hard and will not abuse or take advantage of employers providing a flex-time schedule. They also feel men (or at least dads) should also enjoy the same perks Kay invites companies to provide working women.

Yes. Kay argues women remain most caregivers for children; therefore, her book (and platform) focuses on women. Yet men must also feel they too can earn the right to gain flexible work schedules to help care for themselves (and family members) better, too. Small tweaks to Kay’s presentation can avoid losing this valuable share of her audience.


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