A recent study indicated that nearly 100% of employers are looking for employees who have good communication skills. This doesn’t just mean that you need to be able to present yourself well in an interview. You need to be able to prove that you are capable of communicating your point in both written and verbal arenas. This means that, yes, the rules of spelling and grammar are applicable in real life after all.
When are you making a presentation at your workplace? At the seminars, meetings, expos, sales presentations? Think again, presenting is much more diverse and is an inherent part of today’s workplace. Not only in a meeting but when putting up a proposal on why you must expect a pay increase this year, discussing your performance reviews or trying to move on to a more satisfying project, you are using your presentation skills to get what you want. And of course your main presentation skills are put to test during the interview process which is your make or break chance of getting that job.
You usually get what you ask for – and your presentation skills are the tools and means to get what you want.
Howsoever you use these skills, there are primarily three different levels of presentation skills that you use in your career:
- Business Presentation skills
- Public Speaking
- Communication Skills
Note that all three of the above involve formal or informal levels of presentation, but they are used at different levels and chances are that all of the above may not pertain to your present career but I am sure you are using one or more of these time and then at work or in your personal life. Let’s see how we can define these:
Business presentations may or may not involve public speaking. During such a presentation you are using your persuasion, influencing skills or trying to convince a buyer into buying your product or service. Often business presentations are there to seal a deal or foster collaborations and/or mergers. Negotiations also fall in the business presentations category.
Public Speaking largely involves speaking to a large audience or at least a group of people. Here you are presenting or perhaps promoting a product or service that your audience must know about. Speaking in expos or workshops is where you are using your public speaking skills.
Communication skills are something that you are using daily at your workplace and in personal life, communicating with your colleagues, manager or with a face-to-face meeting with a customer or a remote client.
Evaluate which of the above skills are most relevant to you and which ones you would give yourself a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Note which skills you need to work on first and prepare an action plan on how to enhance your knowledge and experience in these areas.
The Difference between a Presentation and an Effective Presentation
How many times have you sat through a presentation which was “just another one” – a regular “nothing special” presentation which fails to leave a mark on the audience. And how have you felt after witnessing an awesome presentation that leaves you feeling either ecstatic, o impressed or motivates you to take an action (either on buying a service that was offered or a course of action that was proposed during the presentation)? That is truly the difference between a “sleep inducer” and a energizing presentation. To be truly successful and effective in presenting skills, see if your presentation is achieving the following:
- Well practiced and timed speech
- Confidence and honesty in what you are presenting
- Effective tone and vocal variety in your speech
- Catching attention right from the introduction and maintaining audience involvement
- Wrapping up your presentation with a general Q&A with the audience or some sort of feedback to monitor any unaddressed issues that you can either cover there or later on
If you can achieve the above and can see that you have truly engaged audience interest – there you go you just made a successful and effective presentation. Don’t work toward getting things done, strive to do it more effectively with success as the final goal. Also think about how you can make your next presentation unique and stand-out from others or your previous ones. Doing the same thing over and over again does not lead to better success.
A Leader must be a good Presenter
If you wish to lead a team to success one day or are currently on it, then just be ready to work on your presentation skills now. Presenting well does not only mean that you are working on giving flamboyant presentations, but it truly means how effectively you can influence and charm others to get the work done or a sales deal sealed right there on.
How to get the Speaking Experience?
Some of the easy ways to hone your presenting skills is to join a Toastmaster’s group or start a new one at your workplace, taking seminars and courses (which can be expensive but if your company can reimburse you for such courses, take on the initiative to enroll in a couple of them). Another effective way is to take initiative to present in meetings and later in large gatherings to practice your presentations skills. Practice makes perfect – nothing else!
But none of these methods will be effective if you do not ensure a proper feedback process, either by recording (video/audio) and self-evaluation or through a feedback process where you actually get to see or hear your audience respond to the effectiveness of your presentation. Do better by learning from this process and avoid previous mistakes.
And always remember that good presenters can be motivators and movers and shakers of an organization, they are sought after to present the product or service in a client presentation or large expos and get into the good books or upper management faster. And if you really want to move up on the corporate ladder, then this is an essential skill you must strive to perfect.
Presenting for Introverts
However all said, it is not easy for everyone to be up there and make a jaw dropping presentation and take on the deal in the first go. It takes time and practice and also depends on your skills and your personal outgoing attitude. For most introverts presentations can be mighty scary and bring jitters and sweats which can be demoralizing. However you must not let this be a drawback to your career. Learn to identify how you can use your “other” skills, for example making effective presentations online or through a video which can help divert the main emphasis on “you” to something awesome that you have done. Finding new ways to present is also something that can make you more confident – be creative – you don’t have to be out there in front of thousands to be an awesome presenter. And confidence in yourself and your skills is the key to success at everything you do!
Question: What do you do to improve your presentation skills at your work?