Presentation Skills for Business and How To Improve Them
By Jennifer Herrity
Updated August 11, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020
Updated August 11, 2022
Published February 25, 2020
Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.
Presentation skills include the ability to research a subject and then create and execute a great speech. These are useful skills for any career you may choose, so it can be helpful to improve them.
In this article, we will explain the essential skills you need to deliver a great presentation and how you can improve those skills.
What are presentation skills?
Presentation skills include everything you need to effectively execute every stage of a speech. That includes the research, organization, delivery and post-delivery analysis. In the workplace, you may need to present reports to your coworkers or manager, lead training sessions or present project updates to clients. A great presentation needs to be well-organized, engaging and relevant.
Important presentation skills for business
A presentation begins with careful planning and preparation. Then, it requires a strong delivery and a follow-up assessment of your performance. Each of these stages requires a different set of skills. In this section, we'll explain the skills you need in the four stages of a great presentation.
The first stage of a presentation is gathering all the information that you will need to include. To begin, brainstorm what kind of information you will need and where you are most likely to find it. Once you have all the needed information, gather it in one place. Then, interpret that information and take note of the important findings and results. Completing this stage requires the following skills and abilities:
Inductive and deductive reasoning
Read more: Deductive Reasoning: Definition and Examples
Once you have all of your data and you have developed a conclusion, the next stage of the process is organizing everything into a logical narrative. To do this, you need to think about how the different points you want to make relate to each other and which examples or statistics will most effectively illustrate each point. Then, you need to plan out the order of how you deliver this information. Create an ordered outline that will make sense to the audience and include all the main points.
You will also need to prepare the visual materials you are using, such as a PowerPoint presentation or handouts. As you create these, be concise and only include the most important pieces of data or conclusions that will help your audience follow the information in your speech. Take the time to proofread so that they are completely free of spelling and grammar errors.
At this stage, you will need the following skills:
Attention to detail
Grammar and spelling
Proofreading and editing
Once your presentation is ready, the next stage is the actual presentation, which will require strong public speaking skills and excellent verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Project confidence with your body language. As you are speaking, make sure your back is straight and your shoulders are back. Try not to rush through your presentation. Focus on pronouncing each word clearly.
Observe your audience for signs that they are engaged and following the information. If they seem confused, you may need to slow down or spend more time on the examples. Deliver your speech with personality and energy. Change the pace by slowing down for the most important or complex points and speeding up for the simpler or less important ones. These details help the audience stay interested.
Delivering your presentation requires the following communication and public speaking skills:
Enunciation and clarity
Nonverbal communication cues
Once your presentation is done, consider your successes and where you could improve. Think about how well you did in each of the previous stages. Consider how your audience responded to it and whether or not they seem to have absorbed the main points you needed to communicate. Identify the skills you need to work on to do better at your next presentation. The most important skills and abilities you need at this stage are:
Judgment and evaluation
Commitment to continuous improvement
Related: The Key To Successful Speech Writing
How to improve presentation skills
In this section, we'll go through the steps you can take to further develop your presentation skills:
Watch other presentations
You can find many videos of speeches and presentations online. Watch these and take note of how the speakers present themselves, how they organize the information and how they speak. When you practice your own presentation, try to incorporate some of these traits.
Write a script
Most people recommend just writing down the main points of your presentation on note cards to keep your thoughts organized. However, if you're feeling nervous, it might be better to write a word-for-word script of what you want to say and how you want to say it. While you shouldn't read straight from a script during the presentation, it can help you get back on track if you make a mistake or lose focus.
Practice until you've memorized it
Once your script is written, practice delivering it at home. Do this as many times as it takes you to memorize it. To help with any nervousness you might feel, you could practice it in front of friends and family a few times to get used to speaking in front of an audience. It can also help with your pacing and tone.
Delivering presentations can make you feel nervous, but it can be helpful to try to turn that energy into excitement. Consider developing a pre-presentation routine to help make you feel more confident and excited about the topic. Usually, the more you practice and deliver presentations, the easier it is to feel excited about the process.
Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early
Arriving early ensures that you have plenty of time to prepare. Check to make sure any visual or technical components you need are in working order and test how much you'll need to project your voice in the space. You can also use this extra time to do your pre-presentation routine.
Remember that the audience is sympathetic
A lot of people find public speaking intimidating. It's completely normal and most people will be sympathetic to this. If you make a mistake, refer to your notes or written speech to find your spot and continue. Your audience will probably remember the main points of your presentation rather than any mistakes.
Take note of what you did right
Once you finish, consider what you did right and what you can improve. If possible, record your presentation so you can take specific notes for improvement. This will give you perspective and make the next presentation that much less intimidating.
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