Presentation skills and their importance in the workplace
THE NOTION of speaking in front of an audience can strike fear into a lot of people, and this is why professionals who can engage people in meetings, assemblies, parties and other events are deemed admirable, intelligent and relatable.
Delivering presentations in the business or corporate setting is no longer reserved for the top dogs and big bosses. These days, no matter the position or department you belong to, you are expected to stand up and be able to present at some point, be it for internal or external audiences, bringing good news or bad.
Having the confidence and being able to communicate effectively is an indispensable skill, which is why more employers are investing to train their people to become engaging communicators.
We asked Jesse Rebustillo, current president of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), for his insights on the matter.
Q: What are some common mistakes that professionals make when making presentations?
One common mistake is being underprepared, or not prepared at all. When I say unprepared, it means the mind is not ready to deliver the message. The presenter does not have an end in mind, or structure to follow in his delivery. He did not envision what the desired outcome of his presentation would be, and might either end up rambling or struck dumb in the middle of his delivery. Of course, there is also the matter of having the practical or technical side ready—the visuals, research, etc.
It is vital to know the needs of your audience. This is the most basic requirement, and yet many overlook this. Why are they in the meeting, for example? What do they need to know? There are many important questions that need to be answered for you to adequately prepare and be able to connect with your audience.
Q: How can we inspire confidence in new supervisors, when they have to present during meetings?
There are many ways to develop the skills needed to become a good communicator, but perhaps the most important is to get them used to the routine of preparation and practice, practice, practice. It is important to allow them to have opportunities to present, so that they can find their voice, their rhythm, experiment with new techniques and improve on their perceived weaknesses.
Q: Is being an engaging presenter innate? Or it can be learned?
I would say that it is a little of both. One must have the confidence and desire to reach out to his or her audience, and have sufficient background knowledge on the topics to be seen as credible and relatable. It is therefore important to be well-read and outgoing, and have the drive to connect and engage with people.
There may be some people who are innately confident, possibly due to their upbringing or personal experiences, but the various elements that combine to make great presenters can also definitely be consciously learned over time and developed through practice.
(Jesse Rebustillo is also the AVP for Industry Relations of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He was also president of the Philippine Society for Training and Development (PSTD) in 2011.
Jesse will be facilitating a workshop entitled “Engaging Presentation Skills in the Workplace” on April 25-26, 2016. It will be held at the Inquirer Academy Building, Don Chino Roces Avenue corner Ponte Street, Makati City. This is designed for professionals and entrepreneurs to help them become more confident with speaking in front of small and big audiences.)