Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Improving your business presentation and speaking skills

Being able to present confidently and effectively in business is probably one of the most underrated skills in the working world today.

If you cast your mind back to a great business presentation you have attended, there will be a number of reasons of why it was great.  Let’s find out some of these reasons now by asking some questions:

“Was the speaker organised and kept to time commitments?”
“Were they knowledgeable and passionate about their topic?”
“Were they confident?”
“Were they able to build a relationship with the audience?”
“Did they have a clear message that was easy to understand?”
Business Presentation and Speaking Skills
Business Presentation and Speaking Skills
By even asking these questions we can start to draw out some of the strategies and behaviours of a great speaker versus an average one and it is vitally important that when preparing your own presentations, you think about these factors and not just the content which needs to be delivered.

Over the years, we have started to understand this science behind great presentations and the good news is that these skills can be shared with more and more people so they too can feel confident when delivering a presentation.

The first thing to know is that at work, you are presenting all of the time.  From meetings, staff training sessions, one to one coaching to that twenty-minute presentation you will be doing next month in front of 200 staff.  Hence, another strong reason for understanding and practicing becoming the best speaker you can possibly be.

With knowing that you are presenting and speaking in a business environment regularly, let’s share some areas to consider before your next presentation.

Great speakers have the ability to contextualise their presentations or in other words, they are fantastic storytellers. This helps to even turn the driest topic into something interesting.

Although the benefit of adding context to our presentations makes sense, most people still avoid it at all costs to purely focus on content and by doing so the belief is that with enough content the presentation will go smoothly.  This is rarely the case.

As already discussed, you may have the best content in the world for your presentation or speaking engagement, but the question still lies in ‘how can you bring that content to life?’

Contextualising your presentation can be through metaphors, personal stories, example stories or even complete make believe stories (so long as they relate back to the content!)  Yet, the human mind remembers far better when a story is told, it gives clear links, it evokes emotion and months, even years later we always remember a good story.

Perhaps take sometime out today to think of how you can start bringing your presentations to life through adding context.  A great way of checking you are organised for an effective presentation is by checking you have the three C’s.
  • Content
  • Concept
  • Context
Concept so people understand why they are there in the first place, content for the science and logical approach and context to win the hearts of the audience.

Written by Pete Scott, a learning consultant at Capita Learning & Development.

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