What’s the one thing that turns a genius into a leader?
Communication skills. Think about it: the ability to give epic presentations is what inspires and motivates people to trust in and follow you.
A sales professional or business development manager isn’t going to do many deals unless he can engage and persuade with his sales pitch. A mid-level worker isn’t going to advance their career without being able to show the powers that they’re capable of presenting to a room full of stakeholders.
From marketing and customer care, to IT and operations, top presentation skills enable professionals to get their point across, to make their case, to be heard and remembered.
Why top presentation skills aren’t just for customer-facing roles
Top presentation skills are essential for effective sales pitches. But it’s not only customer-facing professionals that can benefit from polished business presentation skills. Whether you’re seeking approval for a new project, more resources or funding — essentially, when you’re asking for anything, you’re pitching.
Having leaders and teams with a deep understanding of how to construct and deliver an outstanding presentation has such a positive influence in businesses big and small. Not only does it raise the standard of presentations in your organisation, engaging audiences more deeply for better buy-ins, the same skills can also be applied in other areas, improving the quality of meetings and one-on-one conversations.
And yet, the vast majority of business professionals just don’t understand the importance of presentation skills. They’re complacent, assuming they can “wing it” or that their reputation will get them what they’re after. They might be arrogant, believing blindly that their idea is the best, without any consideration for the competition.
Many business presentations exhibit real laziness. Old ideas and pitches are simply rebranded and rehashed for a different time and place, but are they really relevant to the audience? Lack of preparation like this causes presenters to fumble and “fluff” their answers when the questions get hard. So much of delivering a killer presentation is in the planning.
Then there’s the worst offender of all: the presenter that brings “death by PowerPoint” to their audience. These are not the types of professionals you want in a workforce. And it’s up to you to make sure they’re not in yours.
1. Nail your presentation skills to get stakeholder buy-in
If you really want top presentation skills inside your workforce, the first thing to nail is your own. Chances are you’ll have to get buy-in from other internal stakeholders in order to execute a new People & Culture focus. So you need to know how to present your idea to them in the most persuasive way.
There are plenty of tips from expert presenters out there to help you build your case. My personal favourite is from Les Posen who says, “If your presentation is mission-critical, there is no excuse for dumping a Word document onto a slide…because you’re time-poor. After all, that movie you paid $15 to see for 90 minutes may have taken two years to make.”
The challenge you may have on your hands is persuading stakeholders that developing top presentation skills in the workforce is mission-critical. So, take your time to plan how you’re going to present the idea to senior management. Treat yourself as an experimental case before you tackle the presentation skills of the rest of the company.
“If your presentation is mission-critical, there is no excuse for dumping a Word document onto a slide…because you’re time-poor. After all, that movie you paid $15 to see for 90 minutes may have taken two years to make.”
2. Prepare for the future by investing in training with EOFY budget
You probably think the awesome keynote speakers and presenters you’ve seen have natural talent. You imagine that the charisma and confidence they have, they’ve always had. But I’ll bet my lunch on the fact they’ve had some form of business presentation skills training. And even if they haven’t, it’s important to realise that these skills can actually be learned.
I’ve been teaching our Mastering Communication program, which includes several ways to improve presentation skills and client engagement, for many years now. And I can tell you, 99% of people are capable of becoming great business speakers with the right tuition.
EOFY is fast approaching, so I’d encourage you to spend any leftover budget on top presentation skills training now. It will help staff to more effectively build trust, relationships and achieve results in the future.
3. Spread the idea company-wide to embed it into culture
It’s important to spread the idea company-wide that pitching is not just a sales exercise. Good presentation and communication skills across the board will transform the business and secure its position as an industry leader.
If anything to do with communication, collaboration, relationships, or trust is a core business value, cultivating good presentation skills should simply be part of “the way we do things”. Incorporate pitching tips and communication best practice into your internal comms or L&D schedule. When it’s a shared value, it’s on everyone’s agenda.
Get started today by downloading and sharing among the workforce our free cheat sheet “The Seven Deadly Sins of Pitching”. Because if you know what to avoid when making presentations, then you’re already halfway there to becoming a more confident, engaging and persuasive speaker.
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.
Colin James is a well-respected Educator, Keynote Speaker, Facilitator and Co-Founder of The Colin James Method® and Inner Profit Pty Ltd a vibrant leadership development company in Australia. Creating memorable, impactful world-class events that deeply influence the way people feel, think and behave is Colin James’ forte