It’s easy to overlook, but the art of presenting is vital in business. It doesn’t matter what job title or what company, a person’s ability to present is an important skill.
Recently I was fortunate to have attended a workshop titled “Making Effective Presentations” by Daniel Pennington. I have known Daniel for a number of years as a former co-worker and a friend, and I am fortunate to still be able to learn from Daniel. He now is part of the faculty at the Studer Community Institute.
The session was for about 40 people. While some make think that being an excellent presenter is only for those who do lots of public speaking, that is not accurate. Employees have to realize they’re always presenting: To co-workers, to clients in one-on-one meetings, to staff in monthly meetings. It doesn’t take a room full of people for it to be a presentation.
I am not saying to be successful in business you need to be able to speak to large groups of people. While it can be daunting, being able to convey an important message is a necessary skill.
The Carnegie Institute of Technology study found that 85 percent of a person’s success in the next five years will be the ability to present their ideas in public. The world is changing.
The value of companies can be based solely on intellectual capital. The skill to present ideas and information can make the difference between achieving customer metrics, finding investors, and creating employee buy-in.
The biggest point from Daniel’s workshop was to organize the material into this formula: First establish the “why.” Then follow with the “how and what” before closing with a “connect to purpose.” This formula is consistent no matter if you present to one or 100.
The Why. Dr. John List, chair of the economics department at the University of Chicago, nailed the why when he was in Pensacola to talk about children and early learning. In a group setting he started his talk with a question: Where is the most talent in the United States? As people were thinking of the answer, he mentioned some may think it is New York City, San Francisco or Chicago. Those were all wrong. His answer: Inner city cemeteries. Too many young people are dying due to increased crime, a jump correlated to a dropout rate that’s becoming an epidemic. He reinforced his point with statistics and connected to children growing up in poverty without much of a chance for success without enough early brain development. Most will not graduate from high school. He shared that 70 percent of African American and Hispanic young women that drop out of high school are pregnant within two years.
At this point the attendees were glued to the message wondering how can we help and what can be done. Dr. Dana Suskind, also from the University of Chicago, then described the work that each hospital will be doing in educating every new mother and the power the mothers have to build their child's brain. List then closed by connecting the work that will be done in Escambia County.
"The world is watching Pensacola right now, because we will learn about what works and why in the 0-5 space. After Pensacola, we will go to other cities in the U.S. and worldwide and implement what we learn.
“That's why the world is watching."
Now I understand most of us will be having conversations that may not change the world. However, if they can make life better for others, they are important.
Here are some other quick tips from Daniel as you present using the why/how & what/ purpose formula:
What do I do with my hands? Always a common issue. Keep them out of your pockets and best if not using them to make a point to keep your hands down by your waist, clasping your hands around wear your belt buckle would be.
Voice fluctuation. I feel the most very important point in any talk is voice fluctuations. My experience is that when speaking it is very effective to lower the voice. People lean in to hear. While great to hear a booming voice, it can also wear thin in a longer presentation.
The power to pause. This is not easy - silence can be uncomfortable. A pause adds value in many ways. It can regain or gain attention. It also allows the people to feel the emotion. You will notice the best verbal communicators use silence very well.
Being an effective communicator is a must-have skill for anyone who wants to get a message across. The good news is Daniel shared with us is that these skills can be learned.