Own the room as a presenter: Tip #3

Carla Thompson generated a lot of discussion when she spoke to us about owning the room and not letting the fear of public speaking hold us back from . . . you got itspeaking in public.

She shared 9 tricks and tips that can definitely help someone own the room as a presenter, and as a result, be a better, well-prepared public speaker.

It’s not enough just to know the words you are going to speak by heart. (Well, maybe memorization will help if all you have to do is speak from a lectern.) But what if, for example, you were told there is no lectern for you to hide behind? Do you know what you’ll do once you get to the room, knowing there won’t be the one piece of furniture/prop that you hoped there would be?

Carla’s Tip  #3: Own the Space

Own the space means that you need to know, ahead of time:

  • The layout of the space
  • The lighting in the space
  • The audio/visual equipment that will be used
  • The acoustics of the space

If there’s no lectern, check to see if there’s a table for you to place your notes. If you like to move around while speaking, is there enough space in the room for you to do that, or will you have to watch where you step?

If you know whether the room lighting is bright or on the dark side, you’ll know whether you need a dark or light background on your PowerPoint slides.

If you’re using an unfamiliar laptop or a laptop for the first time, do you know how to show only your slides to your audience and be able to see your speaker notes on the laptop? Do you know how to use the remote to advance your slides?

Will you need a microphone, or is the room small enough for your voice to be heard?

Owning the space means you control your presence during your presentation.

So the next time you find yourself having to speak in front of a group, make sure you have a handle on the space that you’re going to be using during your presentation. If you’re comfortable in the space, it will help you be more comfortable speaking in front of others.

IRS lowers standard mileage rates for 2017

Effective January 1, 2017, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) is:

  • 53.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (down from 54 cents for 2016)
  • 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (down from 19 cents for 2016)
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (unchanged from 2016)

More info on the IRS website.

No Notes Allowed!

We hosted a reserved-only-for-us architectural walking tour in downtown Seattle, and one of the “tourists” was chapter member Carol Wanda Spradlin. We asked her to share a little bit with us, and this is what she said:

No, I did not take notes. How could I take notes when I was so busy looking and listening? By not focusing on capturing notes, I was enthralled in some visually-interesting, architecturally-cool info. You can’t experience that by trying to take notes.

So, hands-free (other than snapping pics), I’ll share these visuals with you:

  • The terra cotta reliefs on the Cobb Building are NOT Chief Seattle or a compilation of all the tribes here in Washington. The reliefs were ordered out of a catalog from a company back east. The designer (or builder) looked in a catalog and ordered 10 Indian reliefs. The artist who designed the reliefs just put a bit of this with a bit of that and VOILA, Indian Chief (of course now it’s “Native American Chief”). There are 8 reliefs on the building, and one in the concourse between 4th Avenue and the One Union Square building.  You can walk up to it and touch it.  It’s very tall—very, very tall. (Okay, it’s a bit taller than me!) The 10th relief is in the Convention Center (I think).
  • I didn’t take any notes because my focus was on looking around at things I hadn’t noticed before. Like: Little streams of water. The south face of a building that has multi-colored aluminum rectangles that are oh so beautiful (the 5th & Madison Condominiums—very upscale/high end). The side of the “pencil” building that is tiny little tiles . . . and I never noticed that before. I also didn’t know some people refer to the Rainier Tower as the pencil building, because, duh, it looks like a pencil standing on its point.
  • In the downtown library, there is one corner just by the door that has five structural beams coming together at one point. It’s very unique.
  • Did you know the Seattle Tower building has metal trees on top? From afar, they look like tiny, thin towers. Nope. They are trees. For decoration. And the building has white tiles at the top of each outside level to resemble . . . snow (on top of mountains). How cool is that?

Our Seattle Architecture Foundation tour guide, Garrett Lumens (of CallisonRTKL), was an absolute delight. It was a really interesting tour, and I hope the chapter hosts another one soon!

Thanks for sharing, Carol (and for the photo for this blog post); and thank you, Garrett, for leading the tour!

A little old-school industry humor

architect-294338_1280Contractor: A gambler who never gets to shuffle, cut or deal.

Bid Opening: A poker game in which the losing hand wins.

Bid: A wild guess carried out to two decimal places.

Low Bidder: A contractor who is wondering what he left out.

Engineer’s Estimate: The cost of construction in heaven.

Project Manager: The conductor of an orchestra in which every musician is in a different union.

Critical Path Method: A management technique for losing your shirt under perfect control.

(Author unknown)

I didn’t know that! Did you?

Speaker Peter Nohle (Principal, Jackson Lewis, P.C.) gave us an awesome overview of the new exempt/non-exempt overtime rules. We had tons of questions, and he answered all of them. Chapter member Stacy Walker shares her top three “I didn’t know that!” moments from that business practice breakfast.

  1. PTO. If an exempt employee exceeds their annual PTO benefits, it is not permissible to deduct the excess hours/wages from the employee’s paycheck.  Instead, it is proper to deduct the excess time from the following year’s benefit.  Exempt employees are not allowed to “purchase” additional leave through a payroll deduction.  An exempt employee may request a full (not partial) day off for personal reasons without using their PTO benefit, and in those cases it is allowable to deduct those wages from payroll.
  2. Travel Time Pay. Unlike most states, Washington State doesn’t have a “portal-to-portal” rule. There is flexibility for employers in how to handle this. The general rule in Washington is that the employee’s commute time from home to their first stop, and from their last stop to their home, is not compensated.  However, all travel from point to point between the first stop and that last stop is to be considered “work” time and be included in compensation calculations.  This is based on the practice of not considering an employee’s commute between home and office to be work time.  The speaker cautioned that whatever policy a firm decides to employ, it is wise to work with employees who are affected to try and avoid creating situations where those employees are likely to become disgruntled.  Should a disgruntled employee file a complaint, the firm’s entire employment practices can be under scrutiny even if the issue prompting the complaint is found to be without merit.
  3. Hourly Rate Calculations for Non-Exempt Employees. “Regular” hourly rates—not “base” hourly rates—must be used for overtime calculations, and need to include non-discretionary bonuses.  Payments that must be included in calculating regular hourly rates include awards, bonuses, incentives, commissions, travel expenses, shift differentials, and lump sum on-call payments.

So, now you know.

Marcia Petrie Sue’s fireproofing strategies

According to Marcia Petrie Sue, there are 10 things you should take personal responsibility for if you want to help safeguard your job. Whether you’re new to the workforce or you’ve been around for ages, these 10 tips are common sense items you definitely want to keep in mind. Check out Marcia’s top 10 here.

SDA presenter turned author continues the knowledge-sharing


“That’s not in my job description,” said the HR director.

Whoa! You’d think that HR director would know that saying those words can sometimes ruin one’s career (or current job position).

We actually know the person (character) who said (wrote) that. It’s none other than one of our favorite presenters, Cheri Baker. If you didn’t know that Cheri is also an author, you’re in for a treat. She just rolled out her new ebook, “Orientation to Murder (A Katherine Voyzey Mystery)”. That’s book number 2 in her author career; her first was published in late 2013, “Involuntary Turnover (A Katherine Voyzey Mystery)”.

When Cheri is not writing about HR Director Katherine Voyzey, she is a consultant providing coaching and employee and leadership development to individuals and organizations. Having that subject matter expertise under her belt, you might think she’d get away from “teaching” in her mystery books and just let her readers feel the simple act of sitting back and enjoying a good read. Not entirely so.

You’ll still find golden nuggets of “how to be a good HR manager/director” throughout Cheri’s ebooks. But now you’ll be enjoying what you read (the mystery story) instead of feeling like you’re reading a dry list of how-to’s.

For example:

  • Even though you want to say “That’s not in my job description” at work, the underlying tip is, “Don’t say that out loud.”
  • An HR manager/director should always maintain a professional behavior (if you feel like cussing, don’t cuss out loud).
  • And privacy is just that. No talking about employees to other employees. Period.
  • A good reply to prying employees: “Sorry, I can’t (won’t) share confidential information about other employees.”

If you’re looking for an easy to read, interesting story on the life of an HR director and how she deals with staff at the hospital she works at (along with all the mystery stuff), you might want to check out Baker’s ebooks.