Why Presentation Skills Matter


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February 04, 2014

Improving your presentation skills is important because the more memorable, impactful, and effective your presentations are, the more both you and your audience will get out of the learning and sharing experience of a meeting, lecture, or workshop (or whatever else your presentation is for). A great presentation can change the world, or just as importantly, inspire others. Here are some tips and inspirations for making your message more memorable.

1. A Good Story Is Worth a Thousand Pictures

The best and most important way to convey your message is to share it through a memorable and relevant story. It’s not for nothing that storytelling has been receiving much attention – from TED Talks to the truly massive MOOC from “Europe’s largest MOOC platform” – for its relevance beyond fairy tales and children’s books. Telling a good story that effectively illustrates your message is not just about creating an attention-grabbing narrative. A good story helps you engage your audience, and helps “connect the dots” so that your message becomes more intriguing and meaningful.

2. How You Tell Your Story Does Matter

There may be some myths and misunderstandings about the scientific understanding of the importance of verbal and non-verbal messages in our communications, but anyone who’s been to any presentation will agree that of course words are important, but the way those words are delivered – from the tone of voice to body language, gestures, eye contact, to all other non-verbal clues – is an essential part of how we experience the presentation and what we remember (or don’t remember) from it.

3. Be Real, Be Passionate

When you think of the most memorable presentations and speeches that you’ve heard, what comes to mind? From “I have a dream” to “an ideal for which I’m prepared to die for”, speeches that truly move people are powerfully emotional and passionate. While setting the bar of effective public speaking with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela in mind would be rather ambitious, we can all learn from why their messages are, to put it in a present-day business skills context, so “sticky”.

4. Prepare, Plan, Practice, Rehearse

If there’s one thing that all public speaking experts and experienced speakers have in common, it will be that they take preparation seriously. Even the most charismatic speakers who smoothly weave in engaging stories, jokes, and spontaneous-sounding effects into their presentations prepare their materials and practice presenting, which, contrary to what some may think (have you ever said to yourself, “I shouldn’t rehearse because I want to sound natural”?), helps them sound more natural and personal, and allows them to have the confidence and flexibility to be spontaneous.

Ferdinand is the Director of Operations and Learning Solutions and Co-Founder of TrainingAid, an online platform specialized in skills training for tourism destinations and industry professionals.