Taking the Stage with Peak Performance in Your Presentation and Public Speaking Skills

Taking the Stage with Peak Performance in Your Presentation and Public Speaking Skills

Have you ever been required to give a group presentation and you were extremely nervous? You may have lost your train of thought, stuttered, repeated yourself, or misspoke? This more than likely resulted in an experience you would rather forget. Presenting in front of a group of any size can be

intimidating especially if you have not had the opportunity of prior training and experience. All positions in the wine industry at some point require a time when you will need to present to consumers, co-workers and/or fellow colleagues. This is especially true for wine educators, trainers, and podcasters as their jobs revolve around presentations and public speaking.

Key Qualities of Great Presenters

As wine industry professional, chances are you have already sat through many presentations and seminars yourself. Take a moment and think about the speakers that have inspired you. What was it that set them apart from the rest? More than likely they were confident, well prepared, organized, engaging, energetic, enthusiastic, great communicators and most importantly subject matter experts.

I would like to tell you that most of these qualities comes naturally and easily however that is far from true. Even wine professionals with the highest post nominals and credentials are not automatically great presenters. Great presentation skills require dedication, hard work, and lots of practice.

Virtual Versus in Person Presentations

Virtual presentations have increased dramatically in popularity over the past two years especially during our recent global pandemic. Companies have realized the positive impact of the cost savings with a virtual presentation versus in person. Expenses are cut down as participants are not required to travel. They can participate from their office or the comfort of their own home. With less restrictions on the number of participants, larger groups can easily attend. The presentations are easy to record and share as well.

Some of the drawbacks of virtual is that it is more difficult for participants to stay engaged as they can easily get distracted by doing other things during the presentation.

In person presentations allow for easier engagement between the participants and the presenter, and less distractions as they are physically present. For wine presentations there is normally a tasting and in person tastings allow for greater conversation regarding the wines among their colleagues and the presenter.

Whether utilizing virtual or in person presentations the skill sets required to be a great presenter are essentially the same with very few differences.

Improving Your Presentations Skills for Peak Performance

The statement “Practice Makes Perfect” holds much merit when it comes to Presentations.  By practicing the following you can develop all of the skills necessary to becoming a great speaker and presenter.

Preparation – One of first and most important steps is to be well prepared, therefore you will need to consider the following.

  • Presentation topic - Does the title and the content of the presentation match the objective of what you are trying to convey to your audience.
  • Audience – What is the general knowledge level? The level of your content should never be too far advanced nor below the level of knowledge of your audience.
  • Virtual Based – When your presentation is virtual you will have less set up, but you will need to consider the following:
    • Know the software platform well which you are using (Adobe connect, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.)
    • Handouts and informational links to need to be sent out prior
  • Venue Based - it is best to do a site visit when possible. There is much more involved in the set up and your checklist should include:
    • room size / number of attendees
    • audio / visual equipment needed / provided (AV, screen, microphone, podium)
    • tasting items: glassware, dump buckets, tasting mats
    • handouts
  • Length / Time – Be sure to establish the exact length of time allotted. It is typical for most presenters to go over the time allowed so be mindful to stay within your time frame.

Organization – From beginning to end make sure you are organized which comes from proper preparation. Stay on track, do not get diverted. Adhere to your outline so you maintain control of your presentation. Use transitional statements as you move from one slide or topic to another.

Subject Matter Expert – As a speaker you should be well versed and knowledgeable on your topic. Be prepared to deliver an informative presentation and answer any questions that may come up. In other words, you are the expert of the topic you are presenting. This may require additional or advanced research and study on your part to refresh your level of knowledge prior to your presentation.

Great Communicator – Great communication is both verbal and non-verbal. You will want to speak articulately and with clarity. Do not overtalk on your subjects. Watch your audience for questions. Practice active listening skills to make sure you understand the questions. Follow up at the end of the presentation with any questions you may still owe someone. Sometimes you may not have all of the answers right away, so it is better to get back with the individual with the correct information even after the conclusion of the presentation. Practice good body language through eye contact, posture, open hand gestures, and pleasant facial expressions. Move around a bit without standing in one spot and make sure you have eye contact with all attendees. Avoid looking back at your screen and stay focused on the audience at all times. Avoid overuse of common filler words such as umm, well, okay, so, or next.

With virtual presentations there is less pressure on the presenter to be in front of group and the use of body language. However, they will need to work harder to keep their audience engaged through greater voice control and a higher level of energy and enthusiasm.

Engaging – Ask questions of your audience and encourage them to ask questions in return. Connect with your audience by making them comfortable. Sometimes a little humorous self-deprecation when appropriate can never hurt. It will make them feel like they can relate to you, and that you have once been in their shoes.

Energetic and Enthusiastic – As a speaker you should display energy and passion on your subject. This will also help to keep you audience engaged.

Storyteller – Everyone loves to hear a story. When it comes to the wine industry there are an abundance of stories out there. A short story as it relates to your topic can inspire your audience and lend passion to your presentation.

Confidence – All genuinely great speakers have an abundance or confidence. Confidence comes from the development of all of the presentation skills discussed here.

Practice, Practice, Practice – Rehearse your presentation as many times as you need to be fully prepared and confident. This in itself will lend you to giving a “peak performance” in the delivery of your presentation!

For additional support in presentation skills there are many courses you can take online or in person to support you in your efforts.

Presentation Skills Training 

Presentation Skills for a Virtual Audience 

Best Presentation Skills Training 

Ready to take your wine career to the next level? Check out our series Navigating a Career in Wines & Spirits by the author of this blog, Pam Kindel Connors. You can find the four accompanying WSG Replays hosted by Pam on these topics and more on WSG Studio!

Pamela Kindel Connors

Pam is the owner of “Cuvee Consulting LLC,” a company designed to serve the needs of the hospitality and wine & spirits industry. Her mission is to help companies invest in their current talent within their organization through coaching and consulting in organizational development, leadership development, customized training, professional wine & spirits education, and certification programs.

Pam has over 30 years of wine & spirits distribution, cruise line, casino, country club, and restaurant operations experience. She has held various positions in sales, management, training & development, and human resources. Before opening her own company, Connors worked with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits as a Regional HR Business Partner Director specializing in learning and development, talent management, organizational development, and mentor coaching. For eight years before her HR role, she held the State Director of Training for the Glazer’s Diageo & Moet Hennessy division, leading all sales training programs and wine & spirits education, including the CSW, CSS, and FWS certification programs.

In addition, she has also specialized as a wine & spirits educator conducting professional certification courses and seminars for trade and consumer groups nationwide. She has earned certifications through professional organizations, including the Wine Scholar Guild, Society of Wine Educators, Wine & Spirit Education Trust, Bordeaux Wine School “Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux,” Wine Academy of Spain, and Court of Master Sommeliers.
She has served on the Executive Board of Directors for the Society of Wine Educators since 2017. In addition, she is an active member of the Society of Wine Educators, Wine Scholar Guild, Society for Human Resource Management, Association for Talent Development, and the Center for Executive Coaching.

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