Rolling to Presentation Success

Interviewing is, as you know, one of the ways Architecture/Engineering/Construction firms get business. As a result, presenting has become a necessary evil. It is a well known fact that people fear public speaking worse than death. Yet you are more likely to split you’re your head in a pair of roller skates than giving a presentation.



Many of us were around in the late 70’s/early 80’s when roller skating was BIG.

For many, learning to present is a lot like learning to roller skate-pretty rough until you get the hang of it. Once you get the hang of it, you can begin refining your skills to maximize effectiveness. The more we do it and the more comfortable we get, we graduate to more advanced levels. At each level, overcoming new challenges and hurdles brings a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Yet within each of these 5 levels there is much opportunity for growth and progress.
Level 1: Am I going to die? Please, let me get through this without injury.
This is the level where one feels totally off balance and awkward. Hmm Death is looking like a viable option. The level 1 presenter can’t wait to be done. You can see the pain in their face and the tension that fills their body. This presenter is exceptionally uncomfortable and often easily intimidated by those at Levels 4 and 5. Stuck to their notes or to the PowerPoint™, they avoid eye contact with members of the selection panel for fear that they will totally lose it.


Level 2: I am rolling…sort of
Level 2 presenters are a little more comfortable than those at Level 1. Level 2 presenters are still highly dependent on notes and slides. They may not stop very gracefully, often going off on tangents. They come across a little nervous and bit stiff. On a positive note, they no longer fear presenting more than death.

Level 3: I am actually getting the hang of this
The more you do it, the easier it gets. Level 3 presenters are no longer attached to the slides and they can get the words out with relative ease. There may be an occasional misstep but they can get themselves back on track without taking a major tumble.

Level 4: Hey this is fun
This is the level when interview presenters become skilled, agile and effective competitors. Plus, Q & A is a breeze. At this level, they are engaging and their message is on target. They connect with the audience and make their presentation more like a structured conversation. These presenters are significantly more effective than those in levels 1-3. When you reach this level there are still plenty of opportunities for refinement to enhance presentation skills.

Level 5: Super Star
At level 5, you consistently impress and blow others away. This is a level few ever reach but the truth is that few ever need to reach this level of mastery. Presenters at this level are fluid, flawless, and mesmerizing. There are some very seasoned presenters who never reach this pinnacle of achievement.

Interview success is not dependent upon each member of your team presenting at Level 5. However, the most effective teams include presenters in Levels 3 and 4. Getting to that level is one thing, staying there requires regular practice. That can be difficult since many of your Project Managers and Superintendents present infrequently. Therefore, create opportunities to have them present to their peers on a regular basis. It can be as simple as a 5 minute discussion of a project they have been working on or best safety practices.

Regardless of the level you are at, becoming a more skilled presenter success requires 4 P’s:

Practice-The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Persistence-You will mess up. We all do! Don’t give up.
Perspective- If you mess up, don’t beat yourself up. Get back up on your skates and roll. There is no such thing as the perfect presentation. Presenting is both a science and an art neither of which is perfect.
Patience-Be kind to yourself as you grow and know that growth requires time and perhaps a little help along the way