By Estienne de Beer
Perhaps you think your career does not entail delivering any presentations. Well, this is where you might be wrong because no matter what your job is, presentation skills ultimately will come into the picture in some ways. This article, therefore, focuses on the significance of presentation skills in the marketplace and in your career.
You have heard it before … public speaking is the number one human fear. Studies show that this fear ranks ahead of the fear of death for many people. Some people are born presenters. Most are not. Hence, you are not alone when you say that you do not enjoy delivering presentations and speaking in front of a large audience. Stage fright is inevitable. And yet, speak well and you can rise to the top of your organization or industry. Good presenters are quickly recognized as rising stars and catapult over their “mouth-full-of-sawdust” colleagues.
Communication is a vital key in this new century. All of us will, at some time or another, chair meetings, deliver presentations, training or workshops, either to internal or external customers. It gives an edge to keep abreast with the fast pace of the times. Presentation skills definitely work towards this goal. Maybe you are up for a presentation delivery soon and you need valuable tips. Or perhaps, you see the link between success and effective presentation skills, and have realized that effective presentation skills can be a great ally.
The diversity of opinions today in the workplace, which are often controversial, has increased the need for presentations. People need to voice their views to function well at work. For some four thousand years, public speaking has been the key in building and keeping a democratic society and way of life. Aristotle said “a speaker needs three qualities – good sense, good character, and goodwill toward his hearers.”
Presentations before colleagues can sometimes be a real challenge, if not a source of embarrassment; not only to employees, but even to persons of high rank such as scholars, scientists, politicians and executives. They may have hesitations in facing an audience, often accompanied by sweaty palms, stuttering, and the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. These dilemmas often cause untold problems to the presenter (especially in self-expression) and unpleasant effects to the audience.
Presenters usually fall into one of four categories. Do you perhaps recognize yourself?
The Avoider does everything possible to avoid facing an audience. In some cases, avoiders seek careers that do not involve delivering presentations.
The Resister becomes fearful when asked to speak. This fear may be overwhelming. Resisters may not love to deliver presentations, but they have no choice. When they speak, they do so with great reluctance.
The Accepter can do presentations but is not that enthusiastic to do them. Accepters occasionally give presentations and feel good about them. Quite often these presentations can be quite persuasive and satisfying.
The Seeker always looks for opportunities to speak. Seekers understand that anxiety can be a stimulant that fuels enthusiasm during presentations. Seekers work hard at building their professional communication skills and self-confidence by trying to present often, despite anxiety.
Success in delivery of effective presentations can open a whole world of opportunities for your career. It can help you conquer new frontiers. It can broaden your horizons through personal development, influence, and advances in your profession.
Presentations Improve Your Personal Development
There was once a student who dropped a course five times because she hated speaking in front of the class. But after a self-study on building up confidence, she decided to give it a try and was successful. In fact, she came to enjoy the experience so much and even volunteered to deliver more presentations. I can certainly relate to this example. I used to harbour an extreme distaste of public speaking in any way, shape and form. Today my bread and butter comes from a professional speaking career and I passionately pursue every single opportunity to give a motivational talk or to conduct a corporate workshop.
Through presentation skills tools like research, conceptualization, and organization, you have a systematic and effective way of presenting your ideas; and thus, you will be able to express yourself better. Inevitably you will also become more open to other people in the process. Furthermore, presentation skills can launch you into a more significant role as you get recognized. Lastly, well-honed presentation skills can satisfy one’s sense of achievement when you add value to an audience. This is one of the strongest motivators to further raise your level of communication skills and acumen in this crucial developmental area.
Effective Presentations Benefits Your Organization
It is not only you who can benefit from the art of communication but your organization as well. Most meetings or presentations are exceptionally boring and with proper communication skills, you can breathe new life into dull boardrooms. And not only that, but good communicators get recognized more often and over time get promoted. If you want to get ahead in life and in business, there is really no way you can nor should avoid public speaking.
Presentation Skills Advances Your Profession
Good presentation skills can boost your career remarkably, and eventually, your finances. Usually, success in the business world is gauged by answers to questions like, “Do you hold an MBA degree or something similar?” However, researchers have proven that the best indicator of success in any profession is whether the person is often asked to deliver presentations. Those who give more presentations tend to have higher salaries than those who give less or no presentations.
The longer you work for an organization and the higher you climb the organizational ladder, the more the boss will ask you to preside over meetings and to give talks to the staff and subordinates or the clients. The higher your position, the more your responsibilities in leading people under you; and the more you must speak effectively. A manager once said, “From the chairman of the board to the assistant manager of the most obscure department, nearly everyone in business speaks in public or makes a speech at some time or the other.”
Big corporations and small organizations alike need people who are successful presenters, both internally and externally. For example, if salespeople cannot present their services or products with a convincing sales pitch, then fewer customers and clients would buy their products. Employees of big organizations meet regularly to make group decisions that they will present formally to senior management.
The bottom line is this: Whichever road you take, you will encounter instances that require you to deliver presentations. This begs the obvious question … will you avoid, resist, accept or seek?
Estienne de Beer is a Professional Speaker and Presentation Skills Coach. He is the author of the book “Boosting Your Career – Tips From Top Executives”. To receive his free personal development newsletter or to browse e-books for your success, visit his website at www.leader2leaders.com. Reprinted from hr.com.
Copyright 2007 by Estienne de Beer. All rights reserved.