Good presentation skills aren’t reserved exclusively as a competence for the annual performance review of the head of department or communication manager.
It’s also not an activity isolated to the board or meeting room; it’s fundamental to the personal and professional success of each of us.
Whatever you do you can be certain that at some point during the day you are trying to influence, engage, persuade or even inspire someone you work with.
It’s easy to simply share information, knowledge or ideas. The challenge for each of us is to do so in a way that connects emotionally as well as intellectually to the people listening to us. To achieve that we need good presentation skills.
‘Connecting is everything’
It seems to me that we live in a world of ‘noise’.
Email and junk mail
Televisionand radio (even in the car)
We even receive a little ‘noise’ from
It’s all too much!
Of course, that’s just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ as they say.
We mustn’t forget the tens of thousands of thoughts that are running through that 3lb of grey matter we call our brain each day.
Some of which are very helpful, kind and empowering. The good ones often have to work hard to compete for our attention with the negative and unhelpful ones.
We have projects, deadlines, targets and to-do lists which seem to have a life of their very own.
Just when you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse, guess what?
You are invited to attend a presentation at work of perhaps even give one yourself
It helps enormously if we have good presentation skills to manage the ‘noise’
The following advice has been crafted with the presenter in mind to ensure you know exactly what your audience wants and needs from you.
It’s worth having good presentation skills to ensure that they look forward to rather than dread your next presentation.
1. Curiosity liberated the cat, it didn’t kill it
The old proverb ‘Curiosity killed the cat’ was designed to warn us of the dangers of being too inquisitive.
When it comes to presenting and connecting with our audience it’s one of our greatest gifts. It’s what our audience have the moment they sit down and it’s what we as presenters need before we begin to craft our presentation.
Unfortunately, many business presentations today are still too long, too boring and too irrelevant. It’s hard to get excited about your business presentation today unless the speaker has really good presentation skills.
The very first thing we have to do as presenters is to capture our audience’s undivided attention, interest and curiosity. You could argue that you already have their attention by virtue of the fact that they turned up in the first place.
Watch the following short YouTube presentation by Phil Waknell; ‘How to make your audience curious?’
2. Make it personal
During our presentation training courses I often ask the question ‘What is the most popular radio station on the planet?’
After a few wild guesses are put forward I then admit that I don’t actually know myself but it’s my belief that it’s WIIFM.
What’s In It for Me?
That’s all our audience really care about.
If they are investing 20 minutes of their life listening to you they need to be clear on:
– What’s in it for them
– Why should they care?
Good presentation skills will enable you to ensure that everything you say, show and do will be completely relevant and personal to them. Remember, they already live in a world of noise and anything which isn’t personal to them in some way will simply be filtered as more noise.
Someone with good presentation skills starts out by learning as much as they possibly their audience. How much they know already and how you can help them.
Once you are clear that you know what’s in it for them ,ask yourself the question ‘so what?’
In other words, for every slide you share and every statement you make imagine how you would answer if your audience stopped you in your tracks and asked. ‘So what, why should I care about that?’
3. Think like a ‘tweet’
At the heart of every great presentation is a simple, clear and compelling message.
Without a clear and powerful message a presentation is arguably pointless.
If it’s simply information which could easily be sent out in the form of an email it’s doing your audience a huge disservice calling them all together in the same room.
A speaker with good presentation skills will ask themsleves, what:
– Is so important that they should give up their valuable time to come to listen to me speak?
– Difference will what I have to say make to their personal or professional lives?
– Do I want them to remember and why?
– Exactly do I want them to feel emotionally as well as intellectually about my message?
– Do I want my audience to do with this new information?
It’s not about Twitter, it’s about clarity
If you want them to tweet your message to the rest of their department, the company or even the world, what would the tweet say.
If you don’t know, you can be certain they won’t either by the time you’ve finished speaking.
A presentation without a clear, personal and powerful message is like a sandwich without any filling; its dry, boring and you are highly unlikely to want another.
Whilst they aren’t business presentations of course, as I looked at my Twitter feed whilst writing this article the top 5 messages were:
‘Our Lloyds scholars programme offers unique financial and support packages for young people’ – LBG News
‘Today’s key question – how well do you separate the person from the performance?’ – Tony Richards
‘Facts in speeches must be correct. Mistakes will destroy your credibility’ – Andy O’Sullivan
‘It’s time to stop making excuses and start bringing in-person social skills to the digital world’ – Ted Rubin
‘ One reason diversity is a divider? We don’t see beyond the obvious. Asking deeper questions brings a more human experience’ – Shainul Kassam
4. Bring it too life
A presentation consisting simply of information, jargon and data is arguably just ‘noise’.
We need to have good presentation skills to help us to identify and filter ‘the noise’.
I would go as far as to say that most of it is forgotten by the time your audience return to their desk or car. The memorable ones are remembered because they brought to life giving the message and presentation real impact.
Your audience want to listen to someone with good presentation skills who has:
5. What now?
You have good presentation skills which have captured the attention, curiosity and interest of your audience.
You’ve brought the data to life.
What your audience needs from you now is absolute clarity
What you want them to do next.
Let’s assume that they like, accept and buy into your message.
You’ve engaged and connected with them and everything has gone extremely well from your perspective and theirs.
What do you want them to do now?
When don’t know what you want your audience to do next, you can be certain that they won’t either.
If you do know but you don’t tell them, you could argue that you simply wasted your time and theirs. If they do nothing with the information, what was the point?
Presenting doesn’t have to be daunting or complex for either us as presenters or our audience
We simply need to develop good presentation skills and remember that they only really want 5 things from us:
– Let them know that they are in the right room and will be glad they came as soon as they sit down.
– Make sure that everything you say, show and do is personal and relevant to them.
– Deliver a message which is clear and compelling making sure that its relevant and personal too.
– Don’t just tell them what you have to say. Bring your words and message to life.
– Don’t assume they know what you want them to do when they leave the room, make it crystal clear.
If you’d to develop good 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: Canva.com
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