Everything in life is a presentation. Whenever we interact with others, we are presenting the most important commodity we have: ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first day on the job, the first big client meeting, or even meeting your in-laws; people judge us by every action we take and create a lasting impression for every future encounter. Of course, presentations can elicit many different reactions in people. To some, presentations are a chance to display their knowledge and skills. To others, it is what nervously keeps them up at night. A 2014 study in the Washington Post reported that America’s biggest phobia is the fear of speaking in front of crowds at over 25% of those surveyed, just ahead of heights, bugs and snakes.
This is the reason I began attending Toastmasters, an international organization whose mission is to provide a supportive and positive learning environment. They strive to give every member the opportunity to develop their oral communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth. As I listened to speakers of all skill levels –old and new Toastmasters members –attempt to hone the art of delivering an effective presentation, it occurred to me that being able to present information and speak to an audience is not just a skill only truly dedicated people practice but should be viewed as the “golden skill” that everyone needs to practice. It is not just a skill for formal business but a skill for speaking in any type of setting.
As someone who has started the journey to becoming a better presenter, here are a few tips I have already learned that can improve anyone’s presentations skills:
Engage in roleplay: Create a character bursting with confidence, long strides in their walk, an important job that demands everyone’s attention and respect. By imagining this persona and pretending to be them before a presentation, it can greatly improve your ability to speak clearly and confidently.
Start and finish strong: Your goal should be for the audience to actually listen when you speak and remember what you say. Have a beginning that draws the audience and an ending that calls them to action or leaves the audience with something profound to think about
Don’t memorize: Preparation does not equal memorization. While this is counterintuitive to what you learned in school, it is expected that you may make adjustments off the cuff. The main goal is to expand upon the slides of your presentation.
Engage your audience: Know your audience: Whether pitching to your company or meeting your in-laws, it is important to tailor your presentation to your audience.Tell less and show more with your deck: Engage your audience with some great images and quotes that support your speaking points and enhance your words. Don’t be afraid to pause and think: It’s a presentation, not a marathon!
With all I’ve learned about public speaking and presentations in my short time with Toastmasters, it’s clear that there are no limits to how far we can take our ability to present information in an interesting and effective manner. There are all different forms of presentations and not all involve standing at a podium. It is an ever-evolving art that people should always be looking to improve upon and grow, just as we at Cheer strive to grow every single day.
Picture this: you are fresh out of college, get hired at a fantastic company, but have no idea which part of the business best suits you. This was my situation just three short months ago. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to make a hard decision on my role. Cheer Partners allowed me the opportunity to test out each area of their business: Learning and Development (L&D), Talent and Employee Communications (EC) as part of their new rotational program. It was amazing getting to work with each team and when Cheer Partners asked for feedback, the only improvement I could think of was wishing I’d had an extra week to learn all their systems before starting. I found that Cheer Partners’ employees, despite being remote, constantly communicate between different teams and leadership levels to provide the best services possible. As Cheer Partners’ first Rotational Associate, my overall goal was to learn and discover new skills while integrating with each team. I managed to grow my abilities on many levels and learned ways to continue improving.
My first role was with the Learning and Development team. Cheer Partners’ L&D team works diligently to create informative and educational presentations and courses for clients on many different topics, such as Sexual Harassment Prevention and Giving and Receiving Feedback, to help clients provide and support meaningful growth and development. I had the opportunity to assist with researching certain topics, restructuring Power Points and even sitting in on multiple presentations. I learned quickly that each day was different, that the work was always evolving and that it’s always a good idea to have a list of questions ready. My researching skills definitely improved thanks to the teams’ guidance. I was also surprised by how much the L&D team desired my honest feedback about the work, valuing my opinions even though I was still “the new guy”. They always told clients what they needed to hear, even if it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.
My second rotation was spent with the Talent team, which searches for and acquires exceptional candidates for our clients’ open roles. They serve as the gate keepers, helping find potential applicants who best fit positions in terms of both experience and personality. Working with Talent, I sourced many different people with varying skillsets. The Talent team was very supportive, making sure to include me in their own calls and worked to grow my confidence so that I could eventually handle each task on my own. Leading my first interview as the interviewer was certainly not something I expected from my first job, but it was definitely memorable. It was amazing to see the team’s commitment to sourcing talent, combing through hundreds of potential candidates per week looking for that one perfect person. The team was sharing profiles and resumes nonstop, never slowing down or losing steam.
Employee Communications was my final destination as a Rotational Associate. This team focuses on enhancing communications for our clients through our dedicated people-focused lens. I started by researching potential clients to give us a better understanding of who they were: their strengths, areas of opportunity and more. My role quickly expanded into helping write year-end reviews for clients to display their progress and innovations over the past year. Trying to construct a story that demonstrated what clients were currently doing and trying to do better was a challenge, but thanks to the encouragement of the EC team, I believe that my ability to communicate information has grown exceptionally. The EC team is committed to its work and always trying to be more effective at solving problem.
Cheer Partners has managed to create a virtual environment where employees are able to communicate effectively to produce their best work. The L&D, Talent and EC teams all love the work they do and use Cheer Partners’ core values as a guide to ensure not only client satisfaction, but personal satisfaction as well. I found that my strengths were best at breaking information down and making it easy to understand. I also found that converting this information into an attractive story format was something I still struggled with but am confident that with the supportive nature of Cheer Partners, my skills will continue to grow.
We all know picking a major in college can be tough, because who really knows what they want to do for the rest of their life? The same goes for finding your way in the working world after graduation.
A Forbes study stated that 62% of college grads get a job requiring a college degree but that only 22.3% get a job actually related to their major. At Cheer Partners, we value our employees’ unique histories, integrity and diverse skill sets enabling us to work with dozens of clients across multiple industries. We are honest and transparent in our methods with both our clients and our employees, and continuously promote a culture of inclusion that always stems from our core values. Read some of our team’s stories and see what attracted them to join our Cheer Partners team.
MATTHEW GARAWITZ (Associate)
The path that led Matthew to Cheer Partners was far from planned. After graduating college with a business degree, Matthew–a logical thinker– knew he wanted to apply his skills for writing and creativity to his future work (did you know he has written his first novel?) After a brief stint in real estate, Matthew was introduced to Cheer Partners by a colleague who recognized his aptitude for writing and storytelling. Matthew jumped at the chance, and Cheer recognized the unique value he could offer. For Matthew, this gave him the opportunity to join a team that values personal growth and transparency as much as he did. His enthusiasm is infectious and he loves new challenges.
EMILY MILLER (Associate, Talent Division)
Emily followed a different path to Cheer Partners. After graduation and a brief time in the banking industry, she recognized her relationship skills and passion for helping people achieve their goals. A colleague introduced her to the unique culture of Cheer Partners, and she fell in love with the remotely connected aspects of the team. Emily transitioned into her role in Talent with the support of a new hire buddy, her manager and one on one training. Emily says, “Working with the team at Cheer is so rewarding. We proactively support each other, share weekly educational learnings and live our core values of gratitude and diversity every day. I love my work and see myself growing and learning here for quite a while.” Emily embodies the Cheer Partners client-focused mindset.
VIJAY MANSUKHANI (Project Specialist, Financial Operations)
Vijay is our first boomerang! He started at Cheer Partners as a Financial Administrator after graduating college with an economics degree. When the time came, Cheer supported Vijay’s move to another company to gain broader finance experience, one of his passions. While he gained valuable experience, he desperately missed the Cheer culture, and we were so happy to welcome him back to the team. Vijay hit the ground running in our atmosphere of integrity and appreciates having an honest say in how things operate, rather than just being another cog in the works. Welcome back Vijay!
OLIVIA GRAHAM (Senior Associate, Marketing Lead)
After graduation, Olivia took a job as an Assistant Account Executive in the public relations industry because she was passionate about storytelling and working in a team environment. Olivia quickly mastered the brand creative, diversity and inclusion and internal communications work, allowing her natural talents to shine. Olivia then joined Cheer Partners as a Senior Associate and Cheer’s Marketing Lead to continue her personal and career growth. She is thriving in our inclusive culture and works directly with clients continuing to build her expertise in employee communications.
ALI FRISCHMAN (Senior Associate)
Ali’s path to Cheer was exceptionally unique. She began her career as a teacher to students in underserved communities. After a few years in education, she could no longer ignore her ultimate goal of moving to NYC and heard about opportunities in public relations from a colleague. She gained invaluable experience working with a Fortune 50 company. A born educator, Ali discovered her true passion was actually a combination of corporate communications and education: corporate training. She joined Cheer Partners as Senior Associate of Learning and Development. Now, Ali demonstrates her training prowess by helping clients with management, interviewing, coaching and numerous other disciplines, delighting them every day. Ali loves having found the opportunity to be genuinely passionate about her career and a team that supports her education and growth. Cheers to you Ali!
JENNI FORD (Consultant, Senior Diversity and Communications)
After switching majors multiple times in college, a brief stay in finance and taking some business classes, Jenni realized that she still didn’t know where she wanted to work. What she did know was that, no matter what, it would involve helping people. She wanted to work in a people-centric environment, one that valued diversity and empowered people to be more inclusive– traits that attracted her to consult with Cheer Partners. She loves speaking directly with people and telling stories, but most of all is glad to be doing something she honestly enjoys. We at Cheer are happy to have her!
These stories are only a small part of what makes Cheer Partners so great. We all live our core values of honesty, integrity, transparency, diversity, inclusion and gratitude every day and stay connected within our remote culture. We understand that success is not always driven by what you know, but what you can learn. We are all works in progress. Being able to learn, adapt and being open to new experiences can help you find opportunities that you may have never known existed.