Presentation Skills Training—Everyone Needs It!

A presentation is a great opportunity to impress, open and change minds, build value, and many other important functions. The importance of preparation, confidence, and execution of a presentation cannot be minimized.

Who in your organization is responsible for delivering presentations? My guess it is almost everyone. Whether these presentations are formal or informal or in front of a large or small group, more people are expected to present.

That leads to my next question: How many in your organization are prepared to deliver an impactful and persuasive presentation? A presentation is a great opportunity to impress, open and change minds, build value, and many other important functions. The importance of preparation, confidence, and execution of a presentation cannot be minimized.

It is estimated that 75 percent of all people experience some degree of anxiety/nervousness when speaking in front of a group. In fact, surveys have shown that most people fear public speaking more than they fear death. Often, people will avoid positions or even promotions in which they will need to speak in public. That might be extreme, but people will go to great lengths to avoid making a presentation.

Even when those who are forced to speak in public give their presentation, they often are more focused on “getting through” rather than the message they are trying to get across. The presentation often is delivered without any pauses or opportunities for participation. Typically, they avoid contact with the audience and they hide the fact they are anxious. They try to end the presentation as quickly as possible. This may be their best opportunity to create that great impression or close a sale, but their attention is on finishing the presentation without a major gaffe or passing out!

Training Topics

Many organizations offer presentation skills training as part of their standard employee training curriculum. These skills now are considered fundamental, just like writing and other components of effective communication. What should be part of that training? There are many topics that are applicable for this type of training, but at a minimum the following should be included.

  • Confidence: This, of course, is key to delivering a successful presentation. Knowing your audience and good planning will help alleviate some of the anxiety that will be associated with the event.
  • Preparation: This includes knowing your topic, being familiar with and testing your audiovisual, anticipating questions, and being organized. The more preparation done before the presentation, the more confidence you’ll have and the more successful you will be in energizing your audience.
  • Techniques/Skills: There are many skills related to delivering an impactful presentation; for example, using humor, body language, tone, eye contact, and responding to questions. All of these techniques and skills will lead to a more polished and professional presentation.
  • Practice: This is important for feeling comfortable with the topic and gliding through transitions. You have a lot of important information to share and practice will help with your delivery and timing. Winging the presentation can be a dangerous strategy!

A good training program also will provide constructive feedback to participants. There should be opportunities to present in front of others so participants can experience and work through the anxiety.

At Signature Worldwide, we ask participants to come prepared to conduct a short presentation at the start of the program. Then, at the end of the training, they repeat that presentation, and the transformation in delivery is remarkable and impressive! This practical exercise accelerates their learning of the skills and techniques and reinforces the value of practice and preparation.

A successful career includes many opportunities for presentations. An impactful presentation not only enhances the reputation of the presenter, but also that of your organization. There will be a substantial return on investment from training as your employees enhance their communication skills, especially in the area of delivering an impactful presentation.

Barry Himmel is a senior vice president for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company offering a wide range of customized customer service and sales training. For more information on Signature’s Persuasive Presentation Skills training or other programs, call 800.398.0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com. You also can connect with Signature on Twitter @SignatureWorld and on Facebook. Himmel also can be reached via e-mail: at barryhimmel@signatureworldwide.com.

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