The critical role of leadership in presentation skills training

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The need for highly effective presentation skills is profoundly evident in the workplace today.

Every day, in businesses all over the world professionals find themselves presenting in:

– Meetings

– Conference calls

– Conferences

– Networking functions

– Important staff and management updates

– Pitches to clients

Outside of those scenarios, arguably every conversation is a presentation

There is rarely a moment in business today where we are not trying to engage, influence or persuade someone.

Thankfully, history is fraught with invaluable lessons for us in terms of what works and doesn’t work so well in achieving our communication goals. Despite that knowledge, it would be arrogant and remiss of any training professional to impose those lessons on others without understanding their specific challenges and aspirations.

Why?

Presenting our ideas to colleagues or clients with confidence, clarity and authority isn’t easy.

Whilst many organisations still describe it as a ‘soft skill’, an increasing number of professionals disagree. Some consider it one of the hardest skills to master.

It’s not something most of us are taught to do at school, college or university. We arrive in the workplace and just because we become experts at what we do it’s expected that we can speak about it with ease.

It doesn’t work that way!

The reasons public speaking and presenting can be difficult for so many people is long and often complex. Whether the challenge stems from anxiety, introversion or perfectionism we all need three things. That is to be:

– Taught presentation skills

– Receive feedback on our presentation skills

– Supported in developing our presentation skills

Despite how much time, energy and focus we invest in helping professionals, there is a leader force at play

That force is a cultural and leadership energy which occasionally stifles free, honest and open communication.

Many of the requests we receive to craft and deliver a presentation skills workshop include words such as:

‘We would like to help our team get better at ‘influencing and engaging others’.

‘We need to improve the communication skills of our people’

Aany call to help people with their presentation skills is a noble one.

When we ask leaders what they actually mean when using terms like ‘influencing, engagement and communication’ many struggle to articulate their thoughts.

How can you leaders help?

In a business world that is increasingly struggling to connect emotionally as well as intellectually every organisation needs to focus on it’s presentation skills.

Organisations can start to help their teams develop their presentation skills buy asking a few v important questions:

– Have the we told or the team in detail what we believe their current communication strengths and perceived challenges are as individuals?

 – What does our business need and what is missing in the way our team present and speak to each other today?

 – What does influence and engagement mean to us as a business and where and why specifically do we feel our team may need help.

 – Is there a gap in what our organisation believes our team needs and what they actually need and want?

 – Does ou organisation have the leadership and organisation culture to support the way they want our team to speak in a safe and supportive environment?

Public speaking and presenting is the most important skill in the world today.

Training and coaching offers enormous value in helping professionals to present their ideas with confidence and impact. You can help your team immensely by answering the above questions long before you seek a training provider.

That’s just the beginning of the journey. Once the team have had the highly tailored and specific training you’ve identified,  your role continues outside of the training room.

When they get home

– Take them to lunch

Within a week of your team returning from the presentation skills training workshop or coaching, take them to lunch and listen very carefully. Find out exactly how you can support them in using what they have learned that they believe would be helpful. Ask them what they need from you.

Find out if there is anything at all that may prevent them from using the new principles they believe would make a difference.

– Lead by example

Avoid the culture of ‘do as I say, rather than as I do’.

In other words, they can go on the best  presentation skills training program in the world but if they come back to follow your lead as a bad presenter, nothing will change. Have the courage to get help yourself too if you need, it rather than expecting everyone else to change but you.

– Keep the communication doors open

Create a climate of trust and support by encouraging people to speak openly and honestly about where they still need help. Find out what’s helping and hindering them to be themselves and speak with confidence.

– Find them a mentor

Support their development by finding the right person to mentor them with their presentation skills. Find that person who presents the way they would like and need to speak.

– Feedback; don’t judge

Give them clear and respectful feedback and be very open to receiving feedback in return. Don’t wait for months or until their performance review to let them know the impact they are having on others. Create a culture of trust, openess and honesty.

Does your leadership or organisational culture support or stifle your teams presentation skills?

If you need help with your presentation skills:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

Image courtesy of: www.istockphoto.com

 

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