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    Room for improvement

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    This month we learn how to give a presentation that has both substance and style. Nicole Holgate channels her inner b!tch to bring you pointers from the professionals

    What is it about? Own the Room B!tch is a company run by two women who have spent their lives learning how to “own” a room and, despite the title, it is most definitely not about being aggressive or bitchy. It’s actually about your ABCs – appearance, behaviour and conversation. Natasha Mogg, who has a background of more than 20 years in fashion, womenswear and design director roles; and Michele Paradise, a former model, TV presenter and now entrepreneur, run the regular workshops and private training sessions.

    These aim to enhance your confidence, through how you enter a room, your posture and your tone of voice. Natasha tackles how to understand your body shape and colouring, dressing so as to maximise your new attention-grabbing stature. And it isn’t just about appearances: they work closely with attendees to ensure they appreciate why they feel confident, or why they don’t – classic British reticence is often the first barrier. Michele and Natasha run regular meet-ups at the Betjeman Arms at St Pancras in London.

    What did you think? Sonia Wisinger, a project manager from Brüel & Kjær, really enjoyed the session she attended on giving effective presentations.

    The first half of the two-hour class, she said, revolved around what people wanted to get from it. Sonia, having to regularly present the content of her projects and frequent updates to all levels of her organisation, was keen to improve her presentation style in general, but others at the group were much more shy and wanted more basic tips on how to present with confidence.

    After establishing what attendees were hoping to learn, Michele explained the factors to be aware of: the gender of the audience, for instance, can affect the way you present. She then gave examples of ways to improve your empathy with the audience, including judging more accurately whether people were actually listening to you.

    Next, Natasha talked through improving confidence, including giving everyone a better understanding of their body shape, and how to dress accordingly: the old ‘look great, feel great’ adage in practise.

    Sonia commented that the best thing about her teachers was the large amount of entertaining examples, which helped her understand all of their explanations fully, especially for her own expectations of learning to empathise more directly with her audience.

    Now, she says, she thinks back on what she learnt before every presentation: that when you present, people remember not what you say, but how you made them feel. As a project manager, she adds, it’s essential to make people comfortable and react carefully to their responses.

    She also felt that both the technical aspects of presentations, such as how to read your audience, and the more fun aspect of dressing for success, were both covered. PAs, she added, would definitely benefit, as the improvement in skills is a boon for everyone.

    Entering the room

    Before you can own the room, you have to make the first step of getting into it.

    Michele’s top tips are: plan, practise, flow. To enter a room full of people for an event or networking occasion, you have to be in a relaxed, happy state. This is not something that people do naturally, but is a learnt behaviour and can be practised, in the same way that you would learn to drive or prepare for a skilled task. Before the event, plan what you want to achieve from it.

    Immediately before entering the room, think about a time when you felt supremely confident, such as a previous event that left you really pleased, or any moment of success in your life. Bathe in that feeling and your physiology changes: you will straighten up, put your shoulders back and you will be smiling. Then, enter the room.

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    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson