I’ve seen a lot of business presentations – and given almost as many. I often get asked by clients, the people I coach, and guests at speaking engagements: what are the presentation skills I need to have?
I talk elsewhere about designing effective presentations, and what is involved with skillful presentation delivery. But there is one simple piece of knowledge which I believe to be the most important factor in developing your presentation skills.
As presenters we are always communicating with our audience over 2 separate ‘wavelengths’ when we’re on stage. What we say and what we show.
- The visual ‘channel’ is the one that the audience reacts to first; look at the picture above and notice what you believe -the picture or the words?
- The verbal channel (the words we say and the way that we say them). Our visuals can only really do one of 2 things– emphasise the point that the rest of our effort is making, or contradict it in some way.
If we don’t use actual visual aids, the same is still true, but the visual cues are, of course, provided by our setting, our clothes, our image, facial expressions and all that type of ‘invisible’ visible stuff.
It’s worth remembering.
What are the presentation skills which you need to be successful?
Simply, and before anything else, an understanding of the importance of both visual and verbal channels of communication – and the ability to make them transmit the right (and same) message.
When people ignore the quality of the visuals in their preparation, or put up with the ones they’ve always used, they are simply contradicting all of the good things that they want to say, before they even say them.
Try to be honest with yourself in assessing your materials. If it looks dull, confused, tired, old-fashioned or simply shit. It is. For the basics of good slide design in PowerPoint, Prezi or pen and ink, see here for some of our chief designer’s hints and tips.