The Biggest Skill Gap in Your Workforce—And How to Close It

Some 70 percent of employed Americans believe presentations are critical to their success, but 20 percent of Americans would do almost anything to avoid giving one, according to a survey by Prezi and Harris Poll.

Most people would agree that presentations are important. In fact, Prezi and Harris Poll collaboratively conducted a survey that stated 70 percent of employed Americans believe presentations are critical to their success. This is unsurprising, given their power to sell products or services and share findings, ideas, or information.

What’s distressing is that 20 percent of Americans, in that same survey, would do almost anything to avoid giving a presentation. Even if it meant losing respect in the workplace. This includes feigning sickness or asking a colleague to give a presentation for them. However, this fear of presenting and associated poor presentation skills are not character flaws. They are symptoms of a lack of training.

Training needs to be implemented so employees can craft a message, tell a story, design a presentation, and deliver it. To do this, they must learn how to present AND how to use their presentational tool.

Slash Time Spent on Presentation Design

PowerPoint is the most popular presentation tool in the world. More than 90 percent of people use PowerPoint in 150,000-plus companies, but the problem with PowerPoint is that it’s “too” user-friendly. People tend to think that because it’s simple, they do not need to pursue further training.

As a result, they end up using PowerPoint as a crutch in their presentations rather than as a powerful tool—and even worse, they end up wasting a vast amount of company time wrestling with the software.

Venngage conducted a speaker study that revealed 47 percent of speakers took more than eight hours to design their slide deck, while 28.5 percent said it took them between five and eight hours to design their presentation. With proper training, these numbers could be slashed by more than half.

How to Successfully Upskill Your Team

The good news is, it’s not difficult to implement presentation training in the workplace. Companies simply have to acknowledge this massive skill gap, implement ways to combat it, and concede to the time it takes to level up their workforce.

However, all presentation and presentation aid training must be hands-on and conducted by a Training professional in order to be effective. A Training professional can leverage corporate training objectives, budget, and the needs and learning styles of trainees. The most popular training models include in-person workshops, e-learning courses, and one-on-one training sessions and mentoring.

A 24x7 Learning Survey has demonstrated that the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to training is no longer effective. It revealed that only 12 percent of employees have applied the skills learned in corporate training sessions to the job. This suggests the training sessions were not effectively mapped out by qualified Training professionals to meet the needs of learners.

Workshops and seminars are popular training models for bigger groups, but it can become difficult to unlock each student’s full potential—even when a professional has developed the program. That’s why real-world simulations are encouraged as a way to “make it stick.”

In our ever-changing digital world, e-learning has become the training method of choice for most companies. In 2017, 77 percent of U.S. companies used online learning as a training tool and for good reason. Brandon Hall suggests that e-learning boosts knowledge retention by 25 to 60 percent. E-learning allows students to work at their own pace and it supports microlearning, too.

Whichever training method you decide to implement, consider providing staff with a training certificate after completion of the course. It will boost morale by giving employees a sense of accomplishment and a physical representation of their professional development. Then schedule a follow-up session a couple months later to reinforce learning.

If you do not have enough hours in the workday to implement training, then consider starting a program to reimburse employees who seek outside presentation and PowerPoint training. Have an e-learning course and mentor ready for them to pursue training on their own time. By doing so, you will be implementing a workplace learning culture and begin to reap the benefits of your upskilled staff.

How Effective Presenters Will Change Your Corporation for the Better

Put simply, once your employees have improved their presentation and PowerPoint skills, they will become more effective and time-savvy when crafting and delivering presentations. This should translate into happier, more confident, and more effective employees—which means more sales and better communication across the board. It is less likely they will experience the kind of paralyzing fear that was exhibited by 20 percent of the people surveyed by Prezi.

In terms of workforce retention, a study by LinkedIn revealed that 94 percent of employees said they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn. The good news is, it seems companies are starting to listen. That same study showed that talent developers were spending more time than ever before in finding and closing skills gaps in 2019, while exploring learner engagement tactics to inspire the modern learner, including the incoming Gen Z workforce.

Talent developers and all levels of management need to identify presentation and PowerPoint competency as essential skills their staff are missing. Without doing so, they will miss out on closing the biggest skill gap in their workforce.

Camille Holden is the CEO and co-founder of Nuts & Bolts Speed Training. For the last 10 years, she has been helping top-level executives and Fortune 500 companies meet their presentation and presentational aid training goals by empowering employees through their effective and entertaining training programs. Contact her via e-mail at:


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