QI am 23 years old and doing reasonably well in my first job. Increasingly, I am being asked to make presentations and I am not confident about this. Is there any advice you can give me?
AWell done on the new job – you seem to be enjoying it! Presentations are really all about confidence. Let's have a look at the different elements of presentations and see where there is possible room for improvement.
Think about when you enter the room, as that's your first opportunity to impress your audience. Greet everybody, make eye contact and give a firm handshake. Obviously, you need to have lots of preparation done to ensure that things run smoothly and start by giving your audience an overview of the topic you are presenting, the time it will take and any role you might expect them to play in the presentation, ie, specific areas on which you want them to focus, etc.
In terms of style, there are many tools that people use successfully, ranging from PowerPoint, to storyboards, to 'shooting from the hip'. The tools you use all depend on the audience you have, and your own confidence level.
Also think about handouts or other 'props' you might need.
Energy and passion are sometimes in short supply with some presenters and can make all the difference between capturing the attention of the audience and losing them.
Finally, make sure that you time yourself in advance. The last thing anybody wants is long, wandering presentations, so make sure that you keep things precise and always put yourself in the shoes of your audience.
Q I am 40 years old and have been running the family business since I was 27. Things are okay and, while I don't really want to, I have recently been putting some thought into pensions, but have not done anything about it. Can you advise me?
APensions are highly complex and a very specialist area, so the best advice I can give you is to go and spend some money on getting an expert pension adviser. I will, however, relay some patterns I see in the market place.
Many SME owners invest in formal pension schemes because they bring some degree of tax relief, and this is certainly worth taking into account. You also need to consider wider factors such as the retirement age for the state pension. As you will have read over the past number of years, the retirement age is increasing all the time, and it is possible that by the time you retire, the state pension may not be available until you are 70, and you may not want to work until that age.
Some business owners I meet are not big fans of pensions and instead pump money back into the business to help grow it into a good revenue source in years to come, which, in turn, will act as a pension. As you say, you may not want to be thinking about retirement at your current young age; however, you do need to put some thought into what happens to the business in future years.
Every year you leave to start planning pensions is closer to your retirement date and the whole process gets more costly. For pensions and other schemes to work properly, they require lengthy time frames, so get your pension adviser meeting set up and start the process from there.