I wish I had a pound for every job description I’ve seen which stated that the person filling the role must have “excellent presentation skills”.
Perhaps it’s not surprising because we’re talking about skills that are important not only in formal settings but in many other workplace situations, and that is especially true in today’s agile working environments.
Let’s just consider 10 of those situations:
- Meetings: so many roles require people to ‘present’ information to colleagues in meetings and knowing how to present will help you structure your thoughts, choose your words for impact and be persuasive.
- Conferences: if you have great speaking skills you will feel confident about putting yourself forward to speak at internal (and external) conferences.
- Influencing: key parts of influencing are ‘maintaining your listeners’ attention’ and then ‘having a well-structured argument’ – both similarly fundamental to successful presentations.
- Sales: even if you're not in an official sales role, it is likely you’ll have to ‘present’ information about your organisation to a new contact, a colleague, a prospect, a supplier, your manager, a client, a procurement team and more, and the impact you make will depend how effectively you present.
- Staff events: maybe it’s only a birthday or someone going on extended leave, but some people just seem able to choose just the right words to say and they’re always the ones who are asked to speak. These are people who naturally seem to have a high profile.
- Project teams: particularly in modern agile working environments, people often work with new people on project teams. Great presentation skills enable people to make an impression that will impact their role on the project team - a opening for big things ahead.
- Interviews: the ability to give clear, concise answers whilst appearing unflustered is all part of presentation.
- Conference calls: your organisational skills in managing an audience will be crucial here - asking and answering questions, keeping people engaged – it’s all part of the presentation.
- Networking: a key skill in some many roles. Your presentation may be reduced to an ‘elevator’ pitch but your skills will stand you in good stead.
- Writing: it may seem odd that presentation skills help in this area but successful writers think about their ‘audience’, they choose their words for impact, they plan ahead and work to a structure and then they summarise.
Anyone who is highly effective in all of these situations will be, and be widely recognised as, a high performer.
I have always wanted to run a training course called something like “Getting Yourself Promoted”. I’m sure it would be very popular and there is no doubt that a key part of the content would be presentation skills - not just in formal settings but also in the many situations described above.
Nigel Walpole, MD, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the key issues facing managers in the workplace - lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.