As the world of work continues to change, one constant is the need for great presenters. An effective speaker does more than just relay information – good speakers can inspire people to take action, learn new skills, and understand data in a way that reading it on a screen just can’t do. Speakers might also entertain, challenge the status quo and encourage people (and organisations) to make changes.
People, these days, don’t just need information; they need someone to help them understand the information. This can be challenging as technology keeps shifting, and being a presenter is tougher now than ever before. This means if you do find yourself at the front of the room, it’s important to raise your game, to move beyond mediocrity and make sure your message is heard.
With this in mind, here are four reasons why strong presentation skills matter:
1. Smart Phones and Technology Have Changed Things
Capturing the imagination of an audience is more difficult now than it has ever been. If you find yourself with the task of delivering information to a group of people, you will face challenges that didn’t exist ten years ago, and consistently changing social norms make it harder and harder to engage participants.
When I started speaking professionally, cell phones were relatively new and the smart phone did not exist. Attention spans were longer, people weren’t trained to be entertained in two minute “YouTube snippets” and participants in the room hadn’t grown up with the internet. Social media was still a few years away, so when you had an audience’s attention, you really had it. People didn’t spend half the presentation with their noses in their phones or their tablets, and making a real connection was easier than it is today.
What this means to the presenter is that they have to be better than ever before. The information you are delivering is important, so get people out of their phones by delivering your message in an engaging way. Tell great stories, use dynamics in your voice, shift the energy! Use audience interaction if appropriate, and make your presentation interesting enough that people won’t be enticed to open up their phones, tablets, and other tech. Let’s face it – if you have the best information in the world but deliver it in a boring fashion, your words won’t be heard.
2. Strong Presentation Skills Make You Valuable
As a tool to have in your professional development toolkit, public speaking is a valuable one. Whether you are an entry level sales person or the CEO of a multi-national corporation, you will never be faulted for having strong presentation skills. It may even be the tipping point when competing for jobs or promotions. There are plenty of people who don’t like getting up and presenting; being able to do so gives you a competitive advantage and allows you to shine.
Strong presentation skills will serve you well in virtually any occupation; there are no downsides to becoming a powerful communicator!
3. Information Needs to Be Understood
We have more information available to us now than at any time in history. Choose any topic, and you can find scores of articles, videos, and presentations, available at the click of a button. With so much information at our fingertips, it can be overwhelming to sort through all of the data. That’s where presenters bring exceptional value these days; they help audiences make sense of things, to understand the information and move forward.
If you need to communicate data, find a way to make it interesting. Charts and graphs will quickly be tuned out, but if you can humanise the data, explain how the information you are relaying impacts real people, it will be remembered. Use real-world examples, stories, and simplify as much as possible. The human brain can only take in so much information at a time, and if you overwhelm your listeners with an avalanche of statistics and numbers, none of it will be remembered.
Focus on a few key things you want your participants to take away and craft a presentation that really drives those points home. Remember that less is more when it comes to presenting – if people are inspired and take the appropriate actions by a few points delivered exceptionally well, you’ve succeeded. They won’t remember more than that, so be careful not to jam too much into your presentations.
4. Great Speakers Bring Their Ideas to the World
Whether it be a sales pitch, a fundraising event, a convention, or your company’s annual general meeting, the person who has the microphone has the opportunity to influence others. Your ideas are important to you - having the skill and the ability to communicate those ideas in a persuasive fashion means an increased probability that others will support you. Success in business and life often means convincing others that your plan is the one to follow, and if you can’t communicate clearly your life will be much more difficult. Develop strong presentation skills and it’s amazing how people will pay attention to what you have to say.
So there you have it – four reasons why strong presentation skills matter! When looking at your professional development plan for the coming year, consider how you can increase your communication skills and become a stronger speaker; you will make yourself a more valuable employee and give yourself the platform to inspire, lead, and make a real difference in the lives of those around you
- Paul de Burger -