Presentation Skills

Your secret career weapon

By Helen Wilkie
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If there's one skillset that can help you position yourself for career success, it's presentation skills. That's because in today's highly competitive workplace, it's not enough just to be competent - you need to be seen to be competent. And the best way to do that is to present as often as you reasonably can to as many appropriate audiences as possible. To do this successfully, of course, your presentation skills must be at least better than average.

Have you ever noticed that when some people speak up at a meeting, or in another group conversation setting, everyone listens - while others make almost no impact? Think of someone in your organization who always commands attention, whose views are always respected. Now isn't it true that that person possesses good presentation skills?!

Now think of someone whose ideas tend to be ignored, who almost seems not to have spoken at all. I'm willing to bet that person's presentation skills are at the opposite end of the competency scale - am I right?

I once knew an engineer with a brilliant mind. He had been with his company for many years, and had played an important part in designing innovative new products. But he never progressed into the senior management ranks to which he aspired, and I'm convinced that was largely because he regularly put people to sleep when giving his presentations! The powers that be never really understood how brilliant he was, because their eyes glazed over before he was halfway through his story. What a shame - what a waste!

Now here are the big questions:-

  • Where do your presentation skills fall on the scale of excellent to poor?

  • Do you speak up with confidence at meetings?

  • When you're asked for your opinion, can you give it without mumbling and stumbling your way through it?

  • Do people pay attention when you speak?

In my presentation skills workshops, I always tell people this big secret: if you present well, people think you do everything well! If that's true (and my experience tells me it is), then think what improving your presentation skills can do for your career!!

If you've come up with an idea for process improvement, for example, try to arrange to be the person who presents it to the appropriate individuals. Make sure you prepare your message well, practice your presentation until you could do it if you were suddenly awakened at 3 a.m. Present your ideas competently and confidently. The interesting thing is that they won't just notice you did a great presentation, they'll see how valuable an employee you are to have come up with such a brilliant idea!

If you want to improve your job performance and your career prospects at the same time, work on your presentation skills.

About the Author: Helen Wilkie is a professional speaker, workshop leader and author specializing in communication. Call 416-966-5023 for information on her presentation skills workshops. Subscribe to Helen's no-cost monthly e-zine, "Communi-keys" , at http://www.mhwcom. com and get your free 40-page e-book, "23 ideas you can use RIGHT NOW to communicate and succeed in your business career!"