If you are a leader, you probably end up presenting training sessions or leading seminars from time to time, even if it is not a part of your formal job description.

Last Wednesday, I drove to East Lansing, MI to attend part of Choices 2010. Mary Jo Asmus, an executive coach with extensive experience working at a Fortune 100 company,  presented the session I attended, “Coaching for Breakthrough Performance.” I learned a lot from her, both from the content she presented and from the way she interacted with the participants.

Here are some lessons I learned that may help you make your presentations more memorable, helpful, and practical.

Start by listening. Before Mary Jo did anything else, she asked the people attending the seminar what they expected to gain from the afternoon together. Maybe you already do this, but I am betting Mary Jo took it one step farther. She really listened — not just to the words they spoke, but also to the emotion behind the words — so she could pick up on hesitation or hindrances to learning. Later, Mary Jo stressed the importance of listening in coaching and leading others. Since she had already modeled this important skill, her words resonated more deeply.

Ask Good Questions. Throughout the session, Mary Jo asked great questions to get people thinking and interacting with the material. Her questions were open-ended. She asked “what” questions, allowing people the freedom to find answers for themselves.

Be Encouraging and Positive. Mary Jo exuded confidence in the seminar participants. Throughout the afternoon, she said things like “You can do this!” Even though some of the people may have been unsure of their ability to implement the material, Mary Jo provided what they needed to get past their inhibitions. Mary Jo told them they could do it, through her encouraging words. Then she showed them they could do it by allowing them to practice.

Give People the Opportunity to Practice Course Material. Throughout the afternoon, Mary Jo invited people to partner with others to practice their coaching skills and to receive feedback about their coaching. Many of the people in the session had never been exposed to the coaching process before. It gave them, and those of us more familiar with coaching, a chance to immediately apply the information Mary Jo shared with us.

Join the conversation!

What other ideas do you have about how to make presentations memorable?

Marion Chapsal writes a great blog about how to make presentations outstanding. If you have never checked out her blog, I encourage you to do so today.

This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission.