Good presentation skills – useful or invaluable?

Are you a confident presenter or do you shake at the knees just thinking about it?

Giving a presentation, or even a one minute elevator pitch, to a group is a terrifying experience for many people. We think that we’ll be judged by the audience whether it’s our colleagues, who we might know very well, or complete strangers. Those worst affected get a pounding heart, trembling knees, feel nauseous and short of breath, and their mind goes blank; in fact pretty much like a panic attack. Even those who are experienced presenters generally have some nerves before they start, and it’s often said that a few nerves make you perform better, but this is very different to the feeling of sheer terror experienced by many presenters.

There are many occasions in our working life when we might be required to give a presentation and on some of these occasions the outcome of the presentation can affect our future and that of our employers. These presentations can be:

  • during a job interview
  • part of a sales pitch
  • to win an award
  • tendering for a project
  • pitching for investment

If our presentation is poor, work contracts and job opportunities can be lost, and our self-esteem shattered. Unfortunately, we are surrounded by examples of terrible presentations. It is all too common to be bored to death by the poor use of PowerPoint; to feel as though the speaker just wants to blurt out their material and leave as soon as possible; and to feel confused by a deluge of unnecessary data.

How often have you sat through a boring and endless PowerPoint presentation which is bullet after bullet of text? You might even be one of the 13% of workers that have admitted falling asleep during a presentation, according to a survey of office workers conducted by Sharp Europe. 44% of those surveyed said that they had seen someone else nodding off during a presentation. Not surprisingly the top two reasons for disliking presentations are that the talk is too long and the presenter is boring.

Carolyn Lewis presentingThe good news is that we can all become more confident in giving presentations and standing up to speak in a group. We can develop our presentation skills and engage our audience so that it’s a positive experience for both us as the speaker and the audience.

John Ellwood, Managing Director of 3E Training, says “to be a great presenter you only need to do two things well. You must prepare properly, and manage your behaviour. It sounds simple and it can become so”.

John goes on to say, “Sadly, very few speakers are given adequate training, and their first response, when asked to present, is to seek refuge in PowerPoint. This is the worst way to plan! PowerPoint is a possible method to enhance the presentation but should not be the central focus during planning or delivery.

You are the most important visual aid, and You must take control! That means that you need to develop and monitor key elements of your behaviour. The most important ones relate to the speed of your voice, your eye contact, and your position in the room. When you can manage these you will have the opportunity to react and respond to the needs of the audience as you make your points”.

Whether you’re just starting your career or you have been working for many years, developing your skills to present confidently and professionally is a valuable thing to do, so when the time comes you can deliver a presentation without those trembling knees.

If you’d like to develop your presentation skills why not consider an online course, such as Powerful Presentations, and learn at a time and place that suits you.

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