Expert’s view

Paul Kennedy explains his presentation tactics

Paul Kennedy is director of HR and associate development at travel company
Rosenbluth International.

On what occasions do you present to the board?

I present to our European management board once a month, where we have a lot
of HR topics on the agenda. I fly to Philadelphia every quarter to present to
the main company board. This is a review of operations and gives me a chance to
talk about the key performance indicators that HR has put in place and explain
any other initiatives.

How did you acquire presentation skills?

I learned on the job, especially when I worked in local government. Also,
when I was director of business development at Rosenbluth I was involved in all
sorts of client-facing presentation, so learned as I went along. It is only in
the last two years that I have done courses to hone my skills, and they have
certainly helped. But I’m a strong believer in being yourself in presentations.
I don’t think you should act like you are selling something – I’ve always tried
to be calm and natural and it has won me a lot of credibility.

How else can HR professionals enhance their credibility to the board?

Remind them that you are talking about 70 per cent of their cost base and
they will listen to you. Make sure you have close ties with people in the
company at all levels, so you can deliver an honest report. We have recently
undergone a global restructure and have switched to global reporting lines.
Over the last two weeks I have spoken to 350 people across Europe in ‘town
hall’ style meetings, to get feedback on how the change is proceeding. Being
able to report firsthand on this gave lots of credibility in our recent meeting
and means you can back up what you say and answer any questions fired at you.

Top tips

– Remember the board is only human

– Have a structured framework because it is easy for people to go off the
point with people issues. This is where key performance indicators come in as
they are a good ‘talk track’. For instance, your cost per associate in one
office may be higher than anywhere else, so having this as data lets you talk
about why it might be the case

– Keep a sense of humour

– Be yourself – you are not a sales person – try to stay calm and relaxed

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