Rather than issuing the familiar collective grown at the thought of giving a presentation, this dynamic and powerful tool for conveying information should be celebrated.
While it is easy to dismiss the humble presentation, when done well it can in fact be one of your most formidable skills and a valuable asset to your organisation.
Yet if this is the case, why do more professionals not appreciate its worth? Why are people so often subjected to less-than-inspiring presentations? And what can be done to ensure the presentation takes its rightful place as a valuable method of communication?
WHY ARE PRESENTATIONS UNDER-APPRECIATED?
Presentations are often dismissed as a chore, with long preparation times and painful deliveries adding to the stress and pressure of the event.
Whether this notion comes from distant memories of presentations forced upon us at school and university, or is built into our professional psyche in our preference for emails and less personal forms of communication, the potential of presentations is not fully appreciated by many.
SO MANY BAD PRESENTATIONS
Perhaps one reason for this is that so many of us have sat through bad presentations. An interesting article by Inc.com has pointed out eight key mistakes that many people make when delivering a presentation.
Among these bad habits are:
* Starting with an apology: By apologising for anything at the beginning of your presentation, you immediately start on a negative note. By painting yourself as the victim of circumstance and appealing to the audience for empathy, you can in fact damage first impressions and impact on how your subsequent presentation is received.
* Reading from your slides: The fatal mistake of any presenter is to simply read from your slides or notes. Not only will most viewers immediately think ‘why can I not read this myself’, reading from your notes negatively impacts your delivery, pace and body language.
* Talking too fast: It is easy to get excited and carried away by your presentation, or even to notice the time and realise you need to speed up. But by speaking too fast you can come across as nervous, pressured or simply lacking in good technique.
WHY A GOOD PRESENTATION IS GOLD
All of these common mistakes can be overcome through good preparation, technique training and practice. Having confidence in your presentation skills can go a long way to ensuring your delivery is sound and your message conveyed as clearly as possible, and it is this that should be a starting point for understanding the value of a presentation.
But why should such effort be taken to make your presentation skills shine?
Q: What is the value of a great presentation?
A: The amount of the deal you are trying to win.
Myler quotes fellow strategist and marketer Elisabeth Osmeloski as saying ‘lack of preparation is the biggest cause of failure across the board’ and that ‘not having a clear message and actionable takeaways will leave the audience feeling like their time has been wasted.’
TELL A STORY
Another Forbes contributor, and author of the best-selling book Talk Like TED, Carmine Gallo argues that good presentation skills can boost your value by fifty percent. Although writing in 2014, his assertion that ‘like it or not, your presentation is being compared to TED’ still rings true today.
For Gallo, the soaring success of the TED platform and the ability of its’ speakers to ‘master the art of storytelling and tell those stories with commanding body language, humour, and visually appealing slides’ should be seen as a source of inspiration for anyone looking to improve their presentation skills.
This ability to tell a story is vital to giving a good presentation. In a recent blog post for online presentation platform Visme, journalist Nayomi Chibana reminds us that ‘our brains are hardwired to process and store information in the form of stories.’
She argues that the ability of a story to capture the imagination of the listener from the outset has made it a popular style for giving presentations. By immersing the audience in your talk from the outset, creating suspense and showing rather than telling them your information, you can unlock the value of a good presentation and translate this skill into successful results.
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