Presentation Skills

Presentation Skills are one of Matter’s top skills linked to performance and career success. Matter helps professionals tease out blindspots and areas for growth in skills like presentation skills through regular peer-to-peer feedback.

What Are Presentation Skills

Definition of Presentation Skills: Delivers effective, understandable, and engaging presentations to a variety of audiences.

An amazing idea can only go so far if you can’t present it in a manner that motivates and inspires others. This applies to all aspects of business, be it pitching, public speaking, demonstrations, sales, and presentations. The best presentations don’t just deliver information, but inspires others to believe in the ideas and take action. Comparing presenters to teachers, William Arthur Ward shares, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

Amazing Presenters You May Know

Susan Cain: The American writer considers herself to be an extreme introvert. However, she doesn’t let that get in the way of being a good presenter. In her public talks and writing, Cain stresses the importance of introverts in creating and sharing new ideas. Rather than overlooking introverts for being quiet, she attests and proves that introverts can be “people who are very good at exchanging ideas, and advancing ideas.” In the right environment where they’re encouraged to participate, introverts often share and present the best ideas.

Shivani Siroya: The CEO of Tala, a smartphone lending startup, Siroya demonstrates her ability to present to different audiences. Using her presentation skills, she has raised venture capital and inspire Tala’s customers who often lack financial access to fair loans. In her TED Talk, she tied the feelings of comfort and financial security into our desire to be altruistic. Her talk shows the power of personal family stories in the emotionally-motivating cause behind her business.

Amy Cuddy: You wouldn’t have known that Cuddy was nervous to step onto the TED stage to deliver her talk. Having survived a traumatic brain injury in a car accident, Cuddy was inspired to study the science of body language. In addition to telling her inspiring the audience, she also demonstrated how good presentation skills and great body posture can turn a personal story into the second-most-viewed TED Talk in history.

Why Presentation Skills Are Important

  • Conveying Ideas: No leader can properly run a company, team, or project without being able to effectively communicate their ideas in a concise, clear, replicable manner.
  • Inspiring Others: Being able to evoke emotion in your presentation is essential, whether that is to energize, lead, get buy-in, or inspire.
  • Gaining a Consensus: No project can survive if people refuse to buy in to the project’s vision or goals. No initiative can succeed without commitment. To succeed in any endeavor, you need everyone on your team moving in the same direction.

What Presentation Skills Aren’t About

  • Indoctrination: Your goal in presenting should never be about insisting that your audience believe a certain way and filling their heads with ideas that they object to.
  • Authoritarianism: Good presentation skills come from a place of collective good, not from top-down demands and adamant directives.
  • Slideshows: Good presentations are more than just the recitation of information on a screen. If something can just as easily be read as presented, just send an email.

Abilities That Lead To The Mastery of Presentation Skills

Engaging your audience: The best presentations engage the audience. Come up with ways to make people feel like participants in your presentation. Pose questions. Ask for their points of view, or use them to help with your demonstration. People have short attention spans so be interactive throughout your presentation.

Keeping it simple: Try to keep your presentation straightforward and to the point. Fancy talks, loads of facts and figures and complicated sentences can overwhelm both you and your audience. They will fidget, zone out or go to sleep. If you keep it simple, your audience is more apt to grasp the message you are trying to transmit.

Making the presentation entertaining: Presentations should be entertaining and informative. Unlike an email or report, people expect some appeal to their emotions. Simply reciting dry facts without any passion or humor will make people less likely to hear your message.

Moving around and gesturing: Moving around can add energy and variety to your presentation. It makes you look more confident because people who are nervous are generally frozen in one position. However, intentionally moving and gesturing to engage your audience is not the same as pacing back and forth.

Speaking slowly: Nervous and inexperienced speakers tend to speak way too fast. Consciously slow your speech down and add pauses for emphasis.

Starting with a bang: Start your presentation with a compelling quote, a great story, a stunning statistic or even a provocative question. Your goal should be to get people’s attention. Avoid starting your presentation by introducing yourself or telling people you’re getting started.

Sticking to three points: To avoid overwhelming your audience with too much information, narrow your presentation down to three points. State the three points at the beginning of your presentation and then reiterate the points at the end. Even if your audience forgets most of what you said, they are likely to remember your three points.

Using visuals: A presentation without visuals will not be as effective as one where you do to engage your audience. Use pictures, animations, charts, graphs or even real-life objects to emphasize and illustrate your point. Try to stay away from having too much text in your presentation.

Explore Roles That Benefit From Presentation Skills

Who can benefit from practicing presentation skills? Matter is helping professionals at all levels get actionable feedback to improve their presentation skills.

  • CEOs who are looking to become better leaders and cultivate company culture
  • Designers who want to grow their professional and soft skills
  • Freelancers who work without a traditional team and want feedback
  • Project Managers looking to improve their cross-functional collaboration skills
  • Software Engineers who aspire to become a tech lead or manager

Explore Complementary Skills to Presentation Skills

Presentation Skills shouldn’t be practiced in a vacuum. Improve your presentation skills by exploring and developing these complementary skills.

  • Body Language: Uses engaging and approachable gestures, facial expressions, and postures
  • Influence: Convinces others to listen and do things that positively impact the team or company
  • Public Speaking: Speaks to a live audience in an informative, persuasive, and entertaining manner
  • Storytelling: Creates an engaging oral or written message that contains a lesson via a narrative
  • Verbal Communication: Speaks effectively using appropriate vocal tone, speed, volume, and vocabulary

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