Developing Presentation Skills: It’s Not Just Talking!

There’s more to developing presentation skills than just learning to stand up and talk

You probably talk to your spouse or significant other all the time. If you have kids, you probably talk to them daily. You talk on the phone to friends, family, coworkers, the list goes on.

But none of these activities help you develop presentation skills.

You can talk all day long, but when you get up in front of an audience to speak, there go the butterflies, the sweaty palms, and maybe even “the choke“. But it doesn’t need to be that way. With the right preparation, presentation skills training and practice, you can stand up in front of your audience and project with confidence, deliver the goods, and leave your audience saying “Wow, who was that masked man?” (if they DO say this last bit, we need to talk about your delivery style!)

“If you’re not practicing, somebody else is, somewhere, and he’ll be ready to take your job.” ~Brooks Robinson

Developing Presentation Skills: It's Not Just Talking!Communication and Delivery

Whether we admit it or not, the emotions of fear and insecurity often become the roadblock to communication, preventing us from getting ahead at work and interfering with our personal lives.

People’s greatest fear isn’t dying – it’s public speaking!

Expressing yourself in a clear, concise, and calm manner is mandatory in today’s professional environment. While the information you’re presenting is obviously important, the delivery method (your presentation skills) greatly affects how well the message is both received and understood.

Presentation is a skill, make no mistake about that, but one that can be learned through proven methods.

We all know the saying “knowledge is power”. For that power to work, effective communication is essential to transfer that knowledge. Often, people lack the communication skills necessary to convey even the simplest need, such as presenting an idea, defending a point or following up on a project. If you can’t get a basic point delivered, understood, and accepted, then it doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have.

Practice Really Does Make Perfect

Practice, practice, practice. Then practice a little more.
Practicing in front of a mirror or with your friends is a great place to start. Every bit of practice will help minimize your anxiety going into your presentation, and keep those pesky butterflies at bay. Rehearsing, on a daily basis if possible – what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it, and your body language, will boost your self-esteem as you begin to notice improvements in your speech and delivery.

Videotaping your practice sessions is tremendously beneficial, especially to catch minor hand movements, body language, and facial gestures that may not be noticed otherwise. Studying the video can help correct unnecessary body movements or annoying mannerisms while doing a presentation. You don’t even need a fancy video setup, since most cell phones now can shoot fairly decent video. Just make sure that it focuses closely enough, and provides high enough quality so that you can see your face clearly. Make sure that you have enough light, and set the camera on something stable instead of having someone hold it – it’s hard to focus on your facial movements if the camera is moving back and forth!

Be “That Guy”

As you practice more frequently, and become more confident in your abilities, you’ll find it much easier to mentally envision your presentation as simply another conversation. While even the most experienced presenters can still get a case of the jitters, they realize that focusing on their stress is detrimental and consciously focus their attention elsewhere. Cool, calm, and collected is the mantra before, during and after your presentation. Be THAT guy!

Presentation skills are becoming a necessity in today’s competitive workplace, and just like Brooks Robinson said, if you’re not practicing, somebody else that has been practicing will be happy to step and fill that spot. Take the opportunity now, spend some time and effort developing presentation skills, and get ahead of the pack!

Trust The Experts

Keep in mind that the most effective way of getting your presentation skills on the fast track is to engage the services of a training company who specializes in presentation skills training and helping you to develop presentation skills. The experts do this for a living, and they’re very, very good at helping you develop your presentation skills with a closed loop feedback model. They will not only tell you what you’re doing wrong, but more importantly – what you’re doing right. This feedback from an expert can give you that confidence boost you need to go into your next presentation with a smile on your face and a little extra spring in your step.

This Brooks Robinson quote is a favorite of our President, Rob Jackson, and can be found on his favorite leadership quotes page.