The phrase ‘presentation skills’ means different things to different people depending on their role. In the context of our role, it relates to the presentation of information in a skilful manner that ensures the participants on the course or at the meeting leave with additional knowledge and skills that they can use or which results in subsequent agreed actions based on an understanding on how to proceed.
We have probably all had bad experiences of presentations in one form or another, for example, the speaker talking to the screen or flipchart rather than the audience, voice not projecting clearly enough, nervous fidgeting that distracts and so on. When we see a presentation that truly grips our imagination and holds our attention, we need to think of the various elements that make it so.
A presentation is classed as good or bad by a person’s subjective viewpoint. The poet, John Lydgate, wrote the following which was later adapted by President Lincoln – it appears in various permutations, but here is one of the most common:
“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
So the key points, (to please most of the people, most of the time!), are what we cover in our Presentation Skills course.
Have you considered how presentation skills invade all aspect of our lives? As an early teenager I experimented cooking with some of the food colourings that I found in my mum’s cupboard. I served up a dish that was surrounded by blue rice. Most of our food has colours from the early part of the rainbow – red tomatoes, yellow peppers, loads of green veg etc and we even have deep purple aubergines and the current trend for heritage varieties of vegetables means that we see things such as purple carrots and potatoes. But blue? Can you think of any blue foods? Apart from a sprinkling of borage flowers on a salad, I must admit I was stumped for thinking of a blue food item. A quick search on Google produced a recipe for Nasi Kerabu, a Malaysian dish of, guess what, blue rice.
Presentations are considered skilful when they appeal to our senses, which for seminars and training courses are our eyes and ears and a feel-good factor. So if you present food that looks wrong in colour, it makes us think that it is not so appealing. It can also distort what we taste because our eyes relay messages to the brain that this is not right. In the same way, we can be turned off by a presenter who does not look the part or speak the way we expect, or shows slides which are poorly designed, or has not thought through the presentation and the information he or she is trying to convey, or an obvious lack of preparation.
Appearances do matter. Have you ever thought of turning up for a job interview in your jeans and wellies? Ok, yes you might do if you applying for a job mucking out horses in stables, but for an office job – would you do that? Think also of that all important event of signing for the dream house you have just bought. The visit to the solicitor to sign all the paperwork is quite a big event in our lives and we tend to make an effort in our appearance and attitude. Not only that, we also prepare in advance for the event by collating as much information as possible. The same goes when you are about to present information to an audience. Presentation skills even appear in the initial search for that dream house.
Although we can usually see past the clutter, children’s toys, piled up laundry, washing up etc, it is very refreshing to see a house with minimal personal items scattered about so you can visualise your own things in the setting and see the house. The clutter in your presentation may be some extra “um”, “like” and “ah” expressions, or fidgeting – an annoying habit that comes from nerves.
So what is it about a presentation that makes it good or bad?
In our course we look at:
- essential components for a great presentation
- clear and effective speaking
- overcoming nerves, building confidence and projecting a professional approach
- preparing a structured plan for a presentation
- identifying possible challenges and how to overcome them
Our previous blogs on this subject are listed below
If you want to find out more about Presentation Skills and improve your performance, book a place on our course or use the Contact page to get in touch with us.