My oldest daughter Holly has just received first class honours in her ecology degree. Yeah! Yes I’m a proud mum! Her 12-minute presentation of her 78-page honours thesis was so impressive that her mentors have asked her to present at a scientific conference in a month or so. Three cheers! Well done Holly!
I’m an authority on presenting in business and have helped hundreds of subject matter experts present at scientific conferences over the years. Holly turned to me for assistance. Now, the good news is that she’s my child, so she’s grown up with me teaching her tips and techniques and already knows what to do to be an excellent presenter. I didn’t really need to help her too much; she was on track.
The experience did remind me that it doesn’t matter how clever you are, how good your message is, how thorough your research, or how impressive your scientific findings are – if no one is listening. Masterful presentation skills can really help girls in STEM to engage their audiences and compel them to action.
It doesn’t matter how good your message, your research your scientific findings are – if no one is listening.
We must nurture the presentation skills of girls in STEM.
Encouraging women and girls to consider a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is one of the ways we can build a future-proof workforce. I actually have three daughters, and they have all studied science at university. We are passionate in our family about girls and STEM! It’s a fact that STEM skills are crucial to the success of Australia’s changing economy. STEM skills mean you can adapt and embrace the jobs of the future such as robotics, medicine, information technology. The future is yours!
Presentation skills can help girls in STEM stand out for all the right reasons
And as girls increasingly find their place in these traditionally male-dominated STEM fields, one way to really stand out and contribute is to hone your presentation skills. Masterful presentation skills are a critical element in your professional toolkit. Beyond excelling in technical expertise, the ability to effectively communicate ideas, pitch for funding, excite stakeholders about project outcomes is key to your success.
Presentation skills empower you
Presentation skills empower you to articulate your ideas with confidence. My daughters all have well-developed presentation skills. They are never shy to speak up when they have an idea or suggestion. They back themselves because they know that they can say what’s in their head in a clear and interesting way. They can structure a thought into a clear and compelling message.
Whether it’s pitching a project, presenting research findings, or collaborating in team meetings, effective presentation skills enhance your ability to convey the value of your work – which has got to make you feel good!
And listening is just as important
A component of excellent presenting (that many people overlook) is the ability to listen actively. Listening is essential for understanding your audience’s needs. Without listening it’s close to impossible to present your work successfully. Masterful presenters can both speak well and listen properly. Both skills are clearly essential for building relationships, establishing trust, and encouraging support in your career.
Bridging the gender gap
Excitingly, strong presentation skills enable girls in STEM to bridge the gender gap by breaking down communication barriers. In a field where collaboration and interdisciplinary work are essential, the capacity to express your complex ideas in a clear and compelling way whilst also getting on with people is key.
Presentation skills serve as a powerful tool for girls to engage with peers, mentors, and decision-makers, fostering a collaborative environment that values diverse perspectives.
Become a role model for others
In the broader context of STEM advocacy and education, excellent presentation skills empower girls to be effective communicators and ambassadors for their STEM professions. With well-developed presentation skills, conveying your excitement and the importance of STEM disciplines with school communities, higher learning institutions and other outreach programs is easy and fulfilling. By becoming compelling storytellers of your STEM journey, you can inspire the next generation and contribute to dismantling stereotypes surrounding gender in these fields.
Nothing happens without funding!
And yes, presentation skills play a crucial role in securing funding and support for STEM projects. Whether presenting to investors, grant committees, or potential industry collaborators, the ability to articulate the significance and potential impact of your work enhances the likelihood of securing resources.
Career opportunities are yours when you have well developed presentation skills
While technical proficiency is the foundation of success in STEM, presentation skills act as the bridge between your ideas and their implementation. Your capacity to convey the relevance and applications of your work positions you as both an authority in your area of expertise and an exciting advocate for innovation. In essence, mastering presentation skills is not just a professional development tool, it’s a means of amplifying your impact and influence.
If you are a girl in STEM do what you can to nurture your presentation skills. It’s a strategic investment in your personal and professional development. As you navigate the intricate landscape of the plethora of STEM careers, your ability to communicate effectively not only propels your individual success, it contributes to building more inclusive and dynamic STEM communities in general.
What can you do?
– If you’re in school take up debating or public speaking, join committees and get involved.
– If you’re at university read my book How to Present (Wiley), join Toastmasters. Put your best foot forward every time you have to a presentation (even if there are no marks involved! Take every opportunity to practice speaking up.
– If you’re an ‘early career’ girl in STEM read my book How to Present (Wiley), attend my Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass, join Toastmasters, and also join any committees at work that help you develop the confidence to get involved and speak up.
Calling all girls in STEM! Please nurture your presentation skills and become a trailblazer, influencer, and leader in the transformative world of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Remember, it doesn’t matter how good your message is, or how thorough your research, or how impressive your scientific findings are – if no one is listening. Let’s make sure people listen when you speak!
© 2024 MICHELLE BOWDEN is an authority on persuasive presenting in business. She’s run her Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass over 980 times for more than 13,000 people over the past 24 years and her name is a synonym for ‘presentation skills’ in Australia. She’s a multi-million-dollar pitch coach to her client list that reads like a who’s who of international business: banking and finance, IT, pharmaceutical, retail, telecommunications plus many more. Michelle is the creator of the Persuasion Smart Profile®, a world-first psychological assessment tool that reports on your persuasive strengths and weaknesses at work, the best-selling internationally published author of How to Present: the ultimate guide to presenting live and online (Wiley) and her new book is called How to Persuade: the skills you need to get what you want (Wiley). Visit www.michellebowden.com.au