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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tip for women only: no cleavage

How should one dress for a presentation?

Global law firm Clifford Chance is facing backlash for a now-viral memo on presentation skills it distributed to only women at the firm.

The five-page memo, published in full on Above The Law, is entitled "Presentation Tips for Women" and contains tips such as "don't giggle," "don't squirm," and "don't mess with your glasses or hair."

The memo also counsels its recipients to "wear a suit, not your party outfit" and reminds them that "no one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage." (See picture above, which tends to prove they had a point.)

Clifford Chance has dismissed allegations that the firm is sexist and told that the memo was compiled by a female partner based on "her personal perspective after years of public speaking,"
 and that the firm is being punished for a few items taken out of context.

The tips, as it happens, are eminently sensible.  Here is a sampling:

It is better to be more formal, practiced & professional, even in a casual crowd
  • Don't drop your volume at the end of a sentence
  • Don't jumble your words, "dunno," "wanna," "probly"
  • Breathe
  • Pretend you're speaking to the back wall
  • Your voice is higher than you hear
  • Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe
  • Don't lean on the lectern
  • Over-prepare the first minute, so you can begin confidently
  • Even if you memorize, bring notes on a card to ensure you don't blank
  • Don't sway
  • If you have the choice of a podium or sitting down, choose the podium
  • Make sure your cellphone is turned off
The problem is that the memo was sent only to female employees.  And, believe me, men can make a mess of a presentation, too.

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