Presentation Skills: A Soft Skill that is Critical to Business Success
Strong presentation skills are one of the most important soft skills one can develop. Learning how to command a room will not only benefit a traditional presentation but also aid in a successful job interview, meeting and in everyday life.
This blog is an updated version of an original post by Christine Funk. (1/9/2019)
Presenting is not just an important soft skill for those pitching to decision-makers or for academics applying for project funding (amongst others). A good presentation can make or break a deal.
Fear of presentations
Everybody remembers that first nervous presentation at school. It’s one of our earliest stressful memories. As we move through education and then into the workforce we tend to spend more time presenting in one way or another. However many of us are still afraid of presentations.
Fear is a common emotion that many of us experience towards presenting. There is fear in a lack of preparation. There is fear of covering the wrong information. There is fear in being asked questions one cannot answer. These thoughts have likely run through the heads of anyone creating a presentation but in this fast-paced world of business, it is increasingly necessary to be able to handle a presentation well.
Working towards having some strong presentation skills in one’s arsenal can make some of these fears disappear.
What exactly are “presentation skills”?
Some form of presenting is now common at almost every level in every business. The ability to present information in a way that is easy for an audience to understand is an incredibly useful soft skill. Presentation skills require some hard skills such as language mastery and software knowledge (PowerPoint). There are also a number of soft skills that come into play during a presentation.
- Organisation: The first and most important element of communication, and therefore presentation, is organisation. No matter how well-researched a presenter may be, a lack of organisation will reflect badly.
- Creativity: Thinking up ways to create an interesting and relevant presentation is a mark of creativity and will increase audience engagement and the likeliness the presented information will be absorbed.
- Confidence: Commanding a room requires confidence (even if you’re faking it!). If a presenter does not have a confident and commanding presence, it can cause their presentation, interview or meeting to be unremarkable and forgettable.
- Effective communication: Sometimes less is more and sometimes it isn’t! A presentation needs to be the right length and pace for the audience and information one is sharing. A presenter must inform, inspire and connect.
Why presentation skills are important to everyone
According to a survey by Forbes, those who make regular presentations say that presentation is critical to everyone’s success.
Even employees who make regular presentations feel they still have much to learn and would benefit from training. We can all improve on our presenting skills through developing and improving a range of soft skills.