Presentations are an inherent part of today’s workplace. From sales pitches to why you expect a pay increase this year, your goal is to instruct and persuade others. Perhaps your most important presentation skills are put to the test during the job interview process–your make-or-break chance of getting the job.

There are primarily three levels of presentation skills that you will use in your career: business presentations, public speaking and general communication. All involve formal and informal levels, and while not all of them may pertain to your current career, they will at some point.

Business Presentations

Business presentations may or may not involve public speaking; oftentimes they take place during one-on-one conversations. During such a presentation you are using your influencing skills, as in trying to convince a buyer into signing on to your product or service. Often business presentations are meant to seal a deal or foster collaborations and/or mergers. Negotiations also fall in the business presentations category.

Public Speaking

Public speaking involves speaking to a group of people or a large audience, such as in an expo or workshop. Here it is especially important to understand your audience and where it stands on the topic you are discussing.

Communication Skills

You use general communication skills on a daily basis in your workplace (and personal life) when you interact with your colleagues, manager or a remote client. While verbal and written communication skills matter, nonverbal communications–eye contact, gestures, tone of voice–are just as important.

How to make an effective presentation

How many times have you sat through a presentation that fell flat or failed to excite, incite or leave a mark on the audience? Now think about how you felt after witnessing an awesome presentation. The difference between a “sleeper” and an energizing presentation lies in achieving the following:

  • Be Prepared: Have a well-practiced and timed speech.
  • Have Heart: Exude confidence and honesty in what you are presenting.
  • Enhance Your Words: Incorporate effective tone and vocal variety in your speech; use visuals or slideshows.
  • Ride the Wave: Catch attention right from the introduction and maintain audience involvement.
  • Listen Up: Wrap up your presentation with a general Q&A with the audience or some sort of feedback to monitor any unaddressed issues that you can either cover there or later on.

A leader must be a good presenter

If you want to lead a team to success one day, or are currently in the process, be ready to work on your presentation skills now. Presenting well does not mean being flamboyant or theatrical, but rather effectively influencing and charming others to get the deal sealed or the work done.

How to get experience?

Two of the easiest ways to hone your presenting skills is to join a Toastmasters group or take seminars or courses on public speaking (which can be costly but your company may reimburse you). Another effective way is to take the initiative and baby-step your way into presenting in small meetings and later large gatherings. Practice makes perfect!

But none of these methods will be effective if you do not ensure a proper feedback process, either by recording (video/audio) and self-evaluation, or through a feedback process where you actually get to see or hear your audience’s response. Strive to do better by learning from this process and avoiding previous mistakes.

And always remember that good presenters tend to be the motivators and movers and shakers of an organization. They are sought after to present a product or service to clients, the media or trade shows, and often get into the pipeline to upper management faster. If you really want to move up on the corporate ladder, this is an essential skill you must strive to perfect.

Presenting for Introverts

It is not easy for nearly anyone to get out in front of dozens or hundreds of people and make a jaw-dropping presentation on the first go. It takes time and practice, certainly, as well as fostering an outgoing attitude.

For most introverts, presentations can bring jitters and sweats which can be demoralizing and immobilizing. Do not let this be a drawback to your career. Identify other skills, such as effective online presentations, or use props, images or special software on stage that will help divert the main emphasis from you.

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