Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Importance of Presentation Skills


In continuation with my previous article on Communication skills, I now present key skill which needs to be developed to get ahead in today’s competitive workplace.

With advent of Microsoft office, presentations have become a very popular and simple way of conveying one’s message at the work place. Be it a top management review panel or a small departmental meeting, they are incomplete without a formal presentation. The topics vary from presenting of a change in organizational structures, positions or general discussions regarding the company policies, or a proposal on a new product, proposal for new projects, even asking for more resources, or plain presentation of facts to a visitor or a prospective client. If management is the art of getting things done then a presentation is a fast and potentially effective method of getting things done through other people.

The presentation provides an opportunity to display your skills in front of seniors, peers, coworkers, colleagues and subordinates. A good performance immediately gets you noticed while a fumble may lead to oblivion for a long time. Moreover, a well crafted and presented presentation can bring out problems and questions to surface and allow discussion and solutions to emerge. Thus such an opportunity should never be wasted and seized upon to enhance your standing in the organization.

Keep the following points in mind when preparing for a presentation:

1. It is very important that the presentation should be carefully prepared with the type of audience for which it is intended kept in mind. The presentation is a failure if the people do not understand what is being talked about. Hence, there should be clear focus on one or two themes or objectives. The main idea of presentation is to make your message understood and remembered.

2. All human beings have very short memory and until and unless, the subject is interesting enough, people do not pay attention. So, the challenge is to make your presentation in such a way, that the audience is forced to pay attention. Some seasoned presenters start off with a light jovial note to prepare the audience for hard facts later. If you manage to hold the audience’ attention, then you have a winner on your hand.

3. Keep your presentation short. Do not increase the duration just for the sake of it. No one wants a lecture from you nor do they want to see slides filled with text which is mostly unreadable. Talk in points and keep them limited.

4. Use visual aids such as pictures, diagrams, graphs, charts etc. to convey your message. It has been proved that people remember things if they can associate some visual memory to it. Thus your visual messages will be better received than the hard facts in text.

5. And most important, build your presentation around one or two main points only. Keep reinforcing them without being overtly repetitive.

6. A good presentation is not only dependent upon the presentation itself but also on the presenter. The presenter should rehearse or practice well before the final day. This is especially true if you are a manager and have asked one of your subordinates to make a presentation. The audience not only looks at the presentation, they also look at the presenter.

In fact, the presenter is more important and he/she should take care of the style, pace, tone to be used. There are five key facets of the human body which deserve attention in presentation skills: the eyes, the voice, the expression, the appearance, and how you stand. Make sure that you pay attention to all these when you present.

a. The voice should be normal and not too wavy or weak. But make sure you are not shouting as well.

b. Try to maintain eye contact with the people in the audience. This will help you relax and be more natural.

c. Bring variation to your tone and expression. Do not over do but do not be monotonous either. Maintain a fine balance between over doing and under doing.

Follow these simple tips to become a rocking presenter.

1 comment:

Andrew Ivey said...

These are good points to remember when you have to give a presentation. The most frequent problem that I find is executives who don't give themselves enough time to rehearse. Time is everything. Clear the diary before a presentation and invest the time in rehearsing really well.