Presentation Skills For Leaders

Presentation Skills For Leaders

Presentation Skills For Leaders

By Mark Wager

A leader who is unable to deliver an effective presentation is unable to express their ideas in a way that inspires people to act. For me a presentation is whenever you have a specific amount of time to communicate with people in order to achieve a specific result. This can be a meeting with your team to address undesirable behaviours, a sales pitch to clients or delivering a proposal to your boss. Presentation skills are highly desired by Leaders yet very few actually develop them yet it's a skill and like all skills it can be learnt and developed and here in this article are some practical tips for all leaders to develop their presentation skills.

Preparation eliminates fear

Delivering information, particularly if it's in front of an audience, can be a daunting task. In fact public speaking is often listed as one of the most common fears that people have, so common in fact that there's a name for it. Glossophobia in psychology is the name for the fear of public speaking. If you are like the majority of people who have apprehensions about presenting then remember that fear is good news, it's the minds way of highlighting areas in your life that lack information. It's natural when you are unaware of an outcome that the mind automatically imagines a negative outcome. It's a mechanism to protect us from harm. 

The best way to eliminate any sense of fear or apprehension is to provide clarity about the outcome so the more you prepare your presentation and the more you deliver presentations the more the feeling of fear naturally goes away.

Identify the action you want 

The purpose of a presentation should never be to convey information but instead to encourage a particular course of action. As a leader you need to identity what you want the listener to do as a result of your presentation e.g. work harder, increase sales, increase budget etc. This needs to be at the centre of your preparation. A presentation that just informs people is a waste of time. An effective presentation is one that inspires action.

Prepare a ten second summary 

No matter how long your presentation is whether it's five minutes or fifty minutes you need to have a ten second version of your presentation, a simple line that summarises the whole presentation. This should be mentioned at least three times within your presentation. The famed scientist Albert Einstein once said “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough” the best leaders are able to take complex ideas and make them simple enough for everyone to understand, not only does this make the action you want more likely to occur but you will find that your message will spread far easier, making your scope of influence far wider.

Use imaginary 

The mind is much more likely to remember images than words. Everyone would have had a time when they went to a meeting and met someone only to forget their name and you would have thought to yourself “I know the face but I can't quite remember the name” yet I highly doubt that anyone  experienced telling anyone “I know your name but I can't remember your face.” It's because we remember imagery than we do words so every effective presentation has a Leader that is able to tell a story that creates images in the  minds of the audience that illustrates the purpose of the presentation.

Change your tone

If you want to influence people it's always more effective to do this in person than via an email or a report. That's because the written words don't convey tone, the use of tone can dramatically alter how the message is received and it can turn a positive into a negative and visa versa. A couple of things to focus on during your presentation is firstly slow down when staying your key message and leave a small gap between each word. This  is called “blocking.” In the mind of the audience it places more importance on that statement. Secondly when you want to raise emotion you have to raise the level of your tone.

Remember WIIFM

No presentation will be effective unless the Leader is able to understand the audiences’s point of view, what may be obvious to the leader may not be so clear to the audience so the leader needs to understand the WIIFM which stands for “what's in it for me.” You need to put yourself in the place of the audience and ask yourself who is this person presenting to me? Why should I listen to them? and why should I believe what the presenter has to say. The audience needs to be fully aware of what is it in for them because if they don't you will soon lose their interest.

You and not slides should be the centre of your presentation 

The former CEO of Apple, the visionary Steve Jobs once said “People who know what they're talking about don't need PowerPoint.” If you are in the situation that you have to use slides then make sure they are just a minor part of your presentation, supplementing what you are saying and not a distraction. If possible just don't use any slides. I've never known a PowerPoint presentation that inspires people, it's always people that inspires people, your audience has to connect with you so the more they focus on you and what you are saying the better your presentation will be.

Posted: Monday 4 September 2017

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