How to Improve Presentation Skills in the Workplace
Updated: Dec 19, 2022
Have you ever been in a situation where you gave a presentation and the audience seemed uninterested, even though you knew you did a good job?
This is usually due to poor presentation skills. If you don't present well, even the best work and the brightest mind can seem simple. Excellent presentation skills can take your work from simple to perfect in the blink of an eye.
"Presentation is the most general way of describing the cognitive act of the mind" - Immanuel Kant.
It's about presenting a company, its products or services, an idea or information in the right way. It can influence the image of a company and inevitably brings in profits.
Presentation skills are critical at various points in your career. In this article, we will tell you how to improve your presentation skills.
What are presentation skills?
Presentation skills are the expertise required to give persuasive, engaging presentations for informational, educational, and public relations purposes, usually to promote a business, service, or oneself. Good presentation skills express the uniqueness of the information you are conveying.
Whether you're an employee, business owner, or job seeker, presentation skills are necessary and will help make a positive impression on your audience.
That's why it's important that you know these skills and how to use them to better up in public speaking.
An effective presentation helps provide answers to a topic, move your audience to action, and present the information in a positive light.
At the core of a good presentation is the ability to convey an idea and effectively engage your audience. You accomplish this through mastery of the topic, tone of voice, body language, and good visuals.
Before you begin your presentation, it's important that you know the different forms of presentation. The first step to a successful presentation is to be clear about your intentions.
Once you know what type of presentation you're going to give, you can tailor your speech and slides accordingly.
Here are some types of presentations:
This type of presentation is very common in the business world. It's used to inform the audience and provide them with certain knowledge: a prime example of an informative presentation is an onboarding presentation for new employees in a company, where the HR inform the new employees about the company culture, tasks, benefits and so on.
This presentation should be brief, concise and straight to the main point.
It is usually used for presentations that are intended to teach about a specific topic and encourage the audience to learn. It differs from an informative presentation because it expects action from the learning process.
This type of presentation in a company is often tailored to educate employees on topics that will contribute to the growth of the company. It should be conducted for the benefit of the audience to impart knowledge in an engaging manner and achieve results. Hands-on training and seminars fall into this category.
This presentation aims to inspire the audience and trigger an action or reaction. It's most often used in Ted Talks. In the business world, this form of presentation is done by telling a story about the company's founding and emotional background to convey its mission and vision. This is usually done in a rousing manner and is meant to evoke emotions and reactions.
This type of presentation is done to change the audience's mind or sell something. Usually a solution to a need is presented and the audience is to be persuaded to like the product or service.
It's often used in sales pitches and business meetings by startups and professionals to present an idea they think would interest the audience.
It should be done in an engaging and persuasive way, highlighting the benefits rather than being salesy.
While this list is not exhaustive, all of the above forms of presentation can be employed in the workplace and used for business purposes. The key to a good presentation is to know which form is appropriate for the type of presentation you want to give in the workplace.
While there are many good presentation skills, here are the top 10 that every professional presenter needs to master in the workplace.
1. Be prepared.
There's no way you can give a good presentation if you aren't prepared for it. Always make sure you've everything you need.
This includes preparing your slides with good content, practicing a lot, and being intentional about your time. This skill is crucial because it reflects how the audience sees you, and it shows that you know your stuff.
2. Great communication.
Communicating information effectively to an audience is not always as easy as it seems. Good communication skills include the ability to deliver a message in a way that's understood by the audience, to strike an appropriate tone, and to ensure that the message is delivered effectively.
3. Good visuals.
Prepare your presentation by using captivating visuals to explain your idea.
Create a visual by using skills like storytelling and sharing your slides with the audience to engage them with your presentation.
This way you don't have to explain every idea and the audience can better understand your work.
You can use Canva to adopt lots of ready-to-use graphics, photos and other visuals.
4. Audience engagement.
A presentation in which the presenter only reads from the slides is likely to bore the audience. Make a conscious effort to include questions and answers. Ask your audience questions and give them tasks during the break that will help them better understand your idea.
For example, you can get the audience to say something in each other's ear until it reaches the last person to convey how messages can get lost between people and why listening is important. This type of exercise can also be used during a training session on topics such as: "Mindfulness in the Workplace."
5. Negotiation skills.
During the presentation, there's a good chance that there will be an opposing position from the audience. Good negotiating skills will help you turn things in your favor and get them to go along with your idea.
For example, when you give a presentation on employee benefits to newly hired members, one of them may try to make a point that a benefit is basic or not enough for them. It's your job to make them understand why they need that benefit and how it'll benefit them.
This is very critical to how successful your presentation will be. Look at the audience and observe how they are.
Is someone busy on their cell phone and not paying attention or is someone drawing on the presentation materials they were given? If you notice moments like this, you can introduce pauses where you can have conversations that will keep people interested and encourage them to listen.
7. Be confident.
This is characterized by maintaining good posture, eye contact, and coherent speech when presenting. A downcast look sends the message that you don't know what you're doing and doesn't make the audience want to listen to you.
Your presentation should have a purpose: whether to solve a problem, convey a useful piece of information, or promote business growth. Show how the problem is solved, or how the audience will benefit from the information you share, or help the business to grow.
9. Time consciousness.
Always keep to the time. If you're late for a presentation, it creates a bad mood. It makes people not want to listen, or listen with a "I hope it's good" attitude, and makes them unlikely to miss even simple mistakes. Keep a timer to finish the presentation right on time or a little earlier for questions and answers session.
10. Proper use of gestures.
This skill is important to breathe life into your work. It helps visualize and illustrate what you're talking about, and gives your audience the sense that you have the technical expertise.
Present with passion, positive attitude, confidence and a big smile on your face so your body language send a signal that your proposed solution works and will benefit to the audience.
Challenges of presentation skills
You can improve your presentation skills. Avoid these mistakes that can turn a presentation into a failure.
1. Lack of preparation.
You are not prepared adequately for your presentation. This may be the biggest mistake you would make in the presentation. This could be your moment and you don’t want to miss it, do you? So get to it and create a superb presentation.
2. Poor audience representation.
When people listen to a presentation, they want to see what's in it. Your boss wants to know if it'll help to the growth of the company and what's next. It's important that you highlight the content for your audience and get that message across.
3. Poor slides.
No one wants to strain their eyes to read an 11 font in a PowerPoint presentation. Take time to make your slides readable and get right to the main point so you don't lose interest quickly.
4. No point of reference for the audience.
There's a chance that the audience you are presenting, will get lost during the presentation or not pay attention to the slides you're showing or the book you're presenting from. If you give them a reference point at the beginning, such as a copy of your slide or a printed book, they'll remember what you're talking about.
Other challenges include poor public speaking skills, not paying attention, and poor audience engagement.
How to combat the challenges of presenting
Although these challenges exist, there are many ways to combat them and improve your presentation skills.
1. Always approach your presentation with the consumer in mind.
A presentation that doesn't put the needs of the audience first is likely to end in a flop and not deserve their attention.
2. Prepare ahead of presentations.
Your audience notices when you don't know what you're talking about. Show them you know by preparing before the presentation to internalize it and answer possible questions yourself.
3. Pay attention to your audience while speaking.
Make eye contact with them so they know you're not just reading from a slide as you speak. Adjust your body language that you show a genuine attention to their questions and concerns.
4. Ask for feedback properly.
During your presentation, don't be afraid to ask for feedback so you can give an engaging presentation. According to Gallup, only 26 percent of workers feel that feedback helps them improve their performance. This shows how little feedback contributes to performance.
But, you should be the type who takes feedback on your presentations well, because it helps generate engagement and show that your work is open to correction or that you know what you're talking about.
5. Use storytelling.
Invoke emotions and carry the audience along with storytelling. You can introduce humor as appropriate. This sparks an interest in the audience and makes them want to listen more.
Tools that can aid good presentation.
When presenting, many tools can make your presentation go seamlessly from start to finish.
Some of them are:
Canva, Video scribe, PowerPoint, Google slides, Prezi, and many others.
Practical steps to presenting to your boss and colleagues at work.
Because of the constant desire to excel in business, pressure can build before a presentation.
By following the steps below, you can ease the process.
Step 1: Prepare your mindset.
Presenting in front of your boss or colleagues may seem scary when you are not used to it. However, it becomes easy when you set the right mindset that the spotlight is not on you, but on the information you intend to pass across. This way, you can better prepare yourself and reduce your anxiety.
Step 2: Know your audience.
Who will be there?
What are the expectations?
How do I deliver my message and make it worth their time?
You should critically analyze who you'll be presenting to and their expectations.
For example, presenting a sample pitch to your boss and colleagues at work, this will meet the needs of the audience involved in the main pitch. Ask yourself questions like, How do I react if I am encountered with this idea or product? Critique your presentation and prepare possible responses.
Step 3: Have a clear objective.
Be clear about the purpose of your presentation, what the workplace expects from you, and what results you want to achieve from your work. This will serve as the premise for your presentation. Begin your preparation with the end goal in mind.
Step 4: Build a structure for your work.
Set out steps to help you organize your thoughts and present your idea in a meaningful way. For example: Have your introduction, body, outline, and conclusion ready.
Step 5: Gather data on your topic.
Get the most important information for your presentation and place it clearly and concisely on the presentation slide.
Use pictures to convey ideas clearly.
Share this brief information on the slide and give it to the audience to read along.
People will unlikely want to read a slide full of text; the images help convey a message and make them curious about the next page.
Step 6: Practice ahead.
You should do a mock presentation before D-Day with all the equipment you plan to use to double check everything is in place.
The more you practice, the better it gets. This will also help you identify gaps and not read too much off the slides during the presentation, which will boost your confidence.
Step 7: Dress appropriately.
On the day of the presentation, you should neatly dress without anything distracting.
Step 8: Maintain eye contact and appropriate body language.
If you make eye contact during the presentation, don't look away, but hold the contact for a few seconds. Do it in such a way that it's not too long so that the audience feels intimidated, or too short so that they think you're afraid. This eye contact ensures that the listener is listening attentively.
Step 9: Be straightforward and concise.
Using big grammar only sometimes equates to being knowledgeable. Use vocabulary properly with the appropriate language, tone of voice, pronunciation, pauses, and speed.
If you explain your terms in simple words, your boss and colleagues quickly understand what you're trying to say.
Be aware that you have a wealth of information, but your audience only needs the most important points.
Step 10: Use storytelling.
Express specific points with storytelling to create interest and keep the presentation compelling.
Step 11: Accept errors.
Be aware that mistakes can happen during the presentation; if they do, move on as quickly as possible and believe in what you've prepared.
Step 12: Close and open with a powerful statement.
Open with a good hook, give an overview of what your presentation is about, present, then close with an overview of what you talked about, and close with a call to action.
Presentation skills are a necessity for everyone in the corporate world.
It may be overwhelming to speak in front of an intelligent team members and the boss. However, you can use the presentation skills mentioned above to get ahead in all your presentations.
While no one is infallible, a smooth presentation is possible with these tips and tools like Canva. It's likely to get you the raise, promotion, or conviction you want to achieve.
Disclaimer: The link (Canva) mentioned above is an affiliate link, and I may earn a commission from them at no cost to you when you purchase from them. Regardless, I only recommend products I believe will tremendously help my readers.