Harvard University’s Office of Human Resources

When Communications Specialist, Klara joined Harvard University’s Office of Human Resources, her first assignment was to revamp the school’s biweekly presentation for new employees. The three-hour program informs new hires of the University’s unique history as well as the benefits, employment policies, and perks of working at Harvard.

“The presenters are staff members from the different Human Resource areas and offices throughout the university,” said Klara. “It was clear that, in addition to new program materials, they would benefit greatly from presentation training, to help them communicate more effectively and be more comfortable in front of an audience of academic and administrative people.”

After considering several presentation training options, Klara and her colleagues selected Cheever Communications. “We really clicked with Liz Cheever and her group,” noted Klara. “We were particularly impressed with their presentation training expertise and positive energy.”

Together, Cheever and Klara designed a two-day, on-site presentation training program. “Cheever Communications did a great job of listening and came back with a training program that addressed our unique needs,” added Klara.

The Harvard presentation training began with a real icebreaker – videotaping each attendee giving a three-minute mini-presentation on a topic of their choice. This served as the jumping-off point for exercises and discussions on both content and delivery. This included learning how to use attention-getters and to focus on WIIFA, or What’s In It For the Audience. One of the most immediately applicable parts of the training, according to Klara was learning how to avoid common “presentation pitfalls” and use body language, tone of voice, and subtle movements to keep the audience’s attention and stress important points.

“The Cheever trainers were great at stimulating conversation,” Klara noted. “People really got into sharing ideas. At first some of them were a bit daunted by the videotaping, but the trainers really made them feel comfortable with it. It turned out to be one of the most beneficial parts of the training.”

The Harvard Orientation Program presenters came away with greater confidence in their presentation skills and concrete tips that they could immediately put in to action. In Ingrid Klara’s words, “It was a great experience for everyone involved.”