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6 presentation skills and how to improve them


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What are presentation skills?

The importance of presentation skills, 6 presentation skills examples, how to improve presentation skills.

Tips for dealing with presentation anxiety

Learn how to captivate an audience with ease

Capturing an audience’s attention takes practice. 

Over time, great presenters learn how to organize their speeches and captivate an audience from start to finish. They spark curiosity, know how to read a room , and understand what their audience needs to walk away feeling like they learned something valuable.

Regardless of your profession, you most likely use presentation skills on a monthly or even weekly basis. Maybe you lead brainstorming sessions or host client calls. 

Developing effective presentation skills makes it easier to contribute ideas with confidence and show others you’re someone to trust. Although speaking in front of a crowd sometimes brings nerves and anxiety , it also sparks new opportunities.

Presentation skills are the qualities and abilities you need to communicate ideas effectively and deliver a compelling speech. They influence how you structure a presentation and how an audience receives it. Understanding body language , creating impactful visual aids, and projecting your voice all fall under this umbrella.

A great presentation depends on more than what you say. It’s about how you say it. Storytelling , stage presence, and voice projection all shape how well you express your ideas and connect with the audience. These skills do take practice, but they’re worth developing — especially if public speaking makes you nervous. 

Engaging a crowd isn’t easy. You may feel anxious to step in front of an audience and have all eyes and ears on you.

But feeling that anxiety doesn’t mean your ideas aren’t worth sharing. Whether you’re giving an inspiring speech or delivering a monthly recap at work, your audience is there to listen to you. Harness that nervous energy and turn it into progress.

Strong presentation skills make it easier to convey your thoughts to audiences of all sizes. They can help you tell a compelling story, convince people of a pitch , or teach a group something entirely new to them. And when it comes to the workplace, the strength of your presentation skills could play a part in getting a promotion or contributing to a new initiative.

To fully understand the impact these skills have on creating a successful presentation, it’s helpful to look at each one individually. Here are six valuable skills you can develop:

1. Active listening

Active listening is an excellent communication skill for any professional to hone. When you have strong active listening skills, you can listen to others effectively and observe their nonverbal cues . This helps you assess whether or not your audience members are engaged in and understand what you’re sharing. 

Great public speakers use active listening to assess the audience’s reactions and adjust their speech if they find it lacks impact. Signs like slouching, negative facial expressions, and roaming eye contact are all signs to watch out for when giving a presentation.

2. Body language

If you’re researching presentation skills, chances are you’ve already watched a few notable speeches like TED Talks or industry seminars. And one thing you probably noticed is that speakers can capture attention with their body language. 

A mixture of eye contact, hand gestures , and purposeful pacing makes a presentation more interesting and engaging. If you stand in one spot and don’t move your body, the audience might zone out.


3. Stage presence

A great stage presence looks different for everyone. A comedian might aim for more movement and excitement, and a conference speaker might focus their energy on the content of their speech. Although neither is better than the other, both understand their strengths and their audience’s needs. 

Developing a stage presence involves finding your own unique communication style . Lean into your strengths, whether that’s adding an injection of humor or asking questions to make it interactive . To give a great presentation, you might even incorporate relevant props or presentation slides.

4. Storytelling

According to Forbes, audiences typically pay attention for about 10 minutes before tuning out . But you can lengthen their attention span by offering a presentation that interests them for longer. Include a narrative they’ll want to listen to, and tell a story as you go along. 

Shaping your content to follow a clear narrative can spark your audience’s curiosity and entice them to pay careful attention. You can use anecdotes from your personal or professional life that take your audience along through relevant moments. If you’re pitching a product, you can start with a problem and lead your audience through the stages of how your product provides a solution.

5. Voice projection

Although this skill may be obvious, you need your audience to hear what you’re saying. This can be challenging if you’re naturally soft-spoken and struggle to project your voice.

Remember to straighten your posture and take deep breaths before speaking, which will help you speak louder and fill the room. If you’re talking into a microphone or participating in a virtual meeting, you can use your regular conversational voice, but you still want to sound confident and self-assured with a strong tone.

If you’re unsure whether everyone can hear you, you can always ask the audience at the beginning of your speech and wait for confirmation. That way, they won’t have to potentially interrupt you later.

Ensuring everyone can hear you also includes your speed and annunciation. It’s easy to speak quickly when nervous, but try to slow down and pronounce every word. Mumbling can make your presentation difficult to understand and pay attention to.


6. Verbal communication 

Although verbal communication involves your projection and tone, it also covers the language and pacing you use to get your point across. This includes where you choose to place pauses in your speech or the tone you use to emphasize important ideas.

If you’re giving a presentation on collaboration in the workplace , you might start your speech by saying, “There’s something every workplace needs to succeed: teamwork.” By placing emphasis on the word “ teamwork ,” you give your audience a hint on what ideas will follow.

To further connect with your audience through diction, pay careful attention to who you’re speaking to. The way you talk to your colleagues might be different from how you speak to a group of superiors, even if you’re discussing the same subject. You might use more humor and a conversational tone for the former and more serious, formal diction for the latter.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to presenting. Maybe you’re confident in your use of body language, but your voice projection needs work. Maybe you’re a great storyteller in small group settings, but need to work on your stage presence in front of larger crowds. 

The first step to improving presentation skills is pinpointing your gaps and determining which qualities to build upon first. Here are four tips for enhancing your presentation skills:

1. Build self-confidence

Confident people know how to speak with authority and share their ideas. Although feeling good about your presentation skills is easier said than done, building confidence is key to helping your audience believe in what you’re saying. Try practicing positive self-talk and continuously researching your topic's ins and outs.

If you don’t feel confident on the inside, fake it until you make it. Stand up straight, project your voice, and try your best to appear engaged and excited. Chances are, the audience doesn’t know you’re unsure of your skills — and they don’t need to.

Another tip is to lean into your slideshow, if you’re using one. Create something colorful and interesting so the audience’s eyes fall there instead of on you. And when you feel proud of your slideshow, you’ll be more eager to share it with others, bringing more energy to your presentation.

2. Watch other presentations

Developing the soft skills necessary for a good presentation can be challenging without seeing them in action. Watch as many as possible to become more familiar with public speaking skills and what makes a great presentation. You could attend events with keynote speakers or view past speeches on similar topics online.

Take a close look at how those presenters use verbal communication and body language to engage their audiences. Grab a notebook and jot down what you enjoyed and your main takeaways. Try to recall the techniques they used to emphasize their main points, whether they used pauses effectively, had interesting visual aids, or told a fascinating story.


3. Get in front of a crowd

You don’t need a large auditorium to practice public speaking. There are dozens of other ways to feel confident and develop good presentation skills.

If you’re a natural comedian, consider joining a small stand-up comedy club. If you’re an avid writer, participate in a public poetry reading. Even music and acting can help you feel more comfortable in front of a crowd.

If you’d rather keep it professional, you can still work on your presentation skills in the office. Challenge yourself to participate at least once in every team meeting, or plan and present a project to become more comfortable vocalizing your ideas. You could also speak to your manager about opportunities that flex your public speaking abilities.

4. Overcome fear

Many people experience feelings of fear before presenting in front of an audience, whether those feelings appear as a few butterflies or more severe anxiety. Try grounding yourself to shift your focus to the present moment. If you’re stuck dwelling on previous experiences that didn’t go well, use those mistakes as learning experiences and focus on what you can improve to do better in the future.

Tips for dealing with presentation anxiety 

It’s normal to feel nervous when sharing your ideas. In fact, according to a report from the Journal of Graduate Medical Education, public speaking anxiety is prevalent in 15–30% of the general population .

Even though having a fear of public speaking is common, it doesn’t make it easier. You might feel overwhelmed, become stiff, and forget what you were going to say. But although the moment might scare you, there are ways to overcome the fear and put mind over matter.

Use these tactics to reduce your stress when you have to make a presentation:

1. Practice breathing techniques

If you experience anxiety often, you’re probably familiar with breathing techniques for stress relief . Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine can help you stop worrying and regulate anxious feelings. 

Before a big presentation, take a moment alone to practice breathing techniques, ground yourself, and reduce tension. It’s also a good idea to take breaths throughout the presentation to speak slower and calm yourself down .

2. Get organized

The more organized you are, the more prepared you’ll feel. Carefully outline all of the critical information you want to use in your presentation, including your main talking points and visual aids, so you don’t forget anything. Use bullet points and visuals on each slide to remind you of what you want to talk about, and create handheld notes to help you stay on track.

3. Embrace moments of silence

It’s okay to lose your train of thought. It happens to even the most experienced public speakers once in a while. If your mind goes blank, don’t panic. Take a moment to breathe, gather your thoughts, and refer to your notes to see where you left off. You can drink some water or make a quick joke to ease the silence or regain your footing. And it’s okay to say, “Give me a moment while I find my notes.” Chances are, people understand the position you’re in.


4. Practice makes progress

Before presenting, rehearse in front of friends and family members you trust. This gives you the chance to work out any weak spots in your speech and become comfortable communicating out loud. If you want to go the extra mile, ask your makeshift audience to ask a surprise question. This tests your on-the-spot thinking and will prove that you can keep cool when things come up.

Whether you’re new to public speaking or are a seasoned presenter, you’re bound to make a few slip-ups. It happens to everyone. The most important thing is that you try your best, brush things off, and work on improving your skills to do better in your next presentation.

Although your job may require a different level of public speaking than your favorite TED Talk , developing presentation skills is handy in any profession. You can use presentation skills in a wide range of tasks in the workplace, whether you’re sharing your ideas with colleagues, expressing concerns to higher-ups, or pitching strategies to potential clients.

Remember to use active listening to read the room and engage your audience with an interesting narrative. Don’t forget to step outside your comfort zone once in a while and put your skills to practice in front of a crowd. After facing your fears, you’ll feel confident enough to put presentation skills on your resume.

If you’re trying to build your skills and become a better employee overall, try a communications coach with BetterUp. 

Elevate your communication skills

Unlock the power of clear and persuasive communication. Our coaches can guide you to build strong relationships and succeed in both personal and professional life.

Elizabeth Perry, ACC

Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships. With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

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Home Blog Education Presentation Skills 101: A Guide to Presentation Success

Presentation Skills 101: A Guide to Presentation Success

Getting the perfect presentation design is just a step toward a successful presentation. For the experienced user, building presentation skills is the answer to elevating the power of your message and showing expertise on any subject. Still, one can ask: is it the same set of skills, or are they dependable on the type of presentation?

In this article, we will introduce the different types of presentations accompanied by the skillset required to master them. The purpose, as always, is to retain the audience’s interest for a long-lasting and convincing message.

cover for presentation skills guide

Table of Contents

The Importance of Presentation Skills

Persuasive presentations, instructional presentations, informative presentations, inspirational presentations, basic presentation skills, what are the main difficulties when giving a presentation, recommendations to improve your presentation skills, closing statement.

Effective communication is the answer to reaching business and academic goals. The scenarios in which we can be required to deliver a presentation are as diverse as one can imagine. Still, some core concepts apply to all presentations.

 We define presentation skills as a compendium of soft skills that directly affect your presentation performance and contribute to creating a great presentation. These are not qualities acquired by birth but skills you ought to train and master to delve into professional environments.

You may ask: is it really that evident when a presenter is not prepared? Here are some common signs people can experience during presentations:

  • Evasive body language: Not making eye contact with the audience, arms closed tightly to the body, hands in pockets all the time.
  • Lack of interest in the presenter’s voice: dull tone, not putting an effort to articulate the topics.
  • Doubting when asked to answer a question
  • Irksome mood

The list can go on about common presenter mistakes , and most certainly, it will affect the performance of any presented data if the lack of interest by the presenter is blatantly obvious.  Another element to consider is anxiety, and according to research by the National Institute of Mental Health, 73% of the population in the USA is affected by glossophobia , which is the fear of public speaking, judgment, or negative evaluation by other people.

Therefore, presentation skills training is essential for any business professional who wants to achieve effective communication . It will remove the anxiety from presentation performance and help users effectively deliver their message and connect with the audience.

Archetypes of presentations

Persuasive presentations aim to convince the audience – often in short periods – to acquire a product or service, adhere to a cause, or invest in a company. For business entrepreneurs or politicians, persuasive presentations are their tool for the trade.

Unless you aim to be perceived as an imposter, a proper persuasive presentation has the elements of facts, empathy, and logic, balanced under a well-crafted narrative. The central pillar of these presentations is to identify the single factor that gathered your audience: it could be a market need, a social cause, or a revolutionary concept for today’s society. It has to be something with enough power to gather critiques – both good and bad.

That single factor has to be backed up by facts. Research that builds your hypothesis on how to solve that problem. A deep understanding of the target audience’s needs , concerns, and social position regarding the solution your means can offer. When those elements are in place, building a pitch becomes an easy task. 

Graphics can help you introduce information in a compelling format, lowering the need for lengthy presentations. Good presentation skills for persuasive presentations go by the hand of filtering relevant data and creating the visual cues that resonate with what your audience demands.

One powerful example of a persuasive presentation is the technique known as the elevator pitch . You must introduce your idea or product convincingly to the audience in a timeframe between 30 seconds and less than 2 minutes. You have to expose:

  • What do you do 
  • What’s the problem to solve
  • Why is your solution different from others 
  • Why should the audience care about your expertise

presentation skills an elevator pitch slide

For that very purpose, using engaging graphics with contrasting colors elevates the potential power of your message. It speaks professionalism, care for details, and out-of-the-box thinking. Knowing how to end a presentation is also critical, as your CTAs should be placed with care.

Therefore, let’s resume the requirements of persuasive presentations in terms of good presentation skills:

  • Identifying problems and needs
  • Elaborating “the hook” (the element that grabs the audience’s attention)
  • Knowing how to “tie” your audience (introducing a piece of information related to the hook that causes an emotional impact)
  • Broad knowledge of body language and hand gestures to quickly convey your message
  • Being prepared to argue a defense of your point of view
  • Handling rejection
  • Having a proactive attitude to convert opportunities into new projects
  • Using humor, surprise, or personal anecdotes as elements to sympathize with the audience
  • Having confidence
  • Be able to summarize facts and information in visually appealing ways

skills required for persuasive presentations

You can learn more about persuasive presentation techniques by clicking here .

In the case of instructional presentations, we ought to differentiate two distinctive types:

  • Lecture Presentations : Presentations being held at universities or any other educative institution. Those presentations cover, topic by topic, and the contents of a syllabus and are created by the team of teachers in charge of the course.
  • Training Presentations : These presentations take place during in-company training sessions and usually comprise a good amount of content that is resumed into easy-to-take solutions. They are aimed to coach employees over certain topics relevant to their work performance. The 70-20-10 Model is frequently used to address these training situations.

Lecture presentations appeal to the gradual introduction of complex concepts, following a structure set in the course’s syllabus. These presentations often have a similar aesthetic as a group of professors or researchers created to share their knowledge about a topic. Personal experience does tell that course presentations often rely on factual data, adequately documented, and on the theoretical side.

An example of a presentation that lies under this concept is a Syllabus Presentation, used by the teaching team to introduce the subject to new students, evaluation methods, concepts to be learned, and expectations to pass the course.

using a course syllabus presentation to boost your instructional presentation skills

On the other hand, training presentations are slide decks designed to meet an organization’s specific needs in the formal education of their personnel. Commonly known as “continuous education,” plenty of companies invest resources in coaching their employees to achieve higher performance results. These presentations have the trademark of being concise since their idea is to introduce the concepts that shall be applied in practice sessions. 

Ideally, the training presentations are introduced with little text and easy-to-recognize visual cues. Since the idea is to summarize as much as possible, these are visually appealing for the audience. They must be dynamic enough to allow the presenter to convey the message.

presentation skills example of a training presentation

Those key takeaways remind employees when they revisit their learning resources and allow them to ruminate on questions that fellow workers raise. 

To sum up this point, building presentation skills for instructional presentations requires:

  • Ability to put complex concepts into simpler words
  • Patience and a constant learning mindset
  • Voice training to deliver lengthy speeches without being too dense
  • Ability to summarize points and note the key takeaways
  • Empathizing with the audience to understand their challenges in the learning process

skill requirements for instructional presentations

The informative presentations take place in business situations, such as when to present project reports from different departments to the management. Another potential usage of these presentations is in SCRUM or other Agile methodologies, when a sprint is completed, to discuss the advance of the project with the Product Owner.

As they are presentations heavily dependent on data insights, it’s common to see the usage of infographics and charts to express usually dense data in simpler terms and easy to remember. 

a SCRUM process being shown in an informative slide

Informative presentations don’t just fall into the business category. Ph.D. Dissertation and Thesis presentations are topics that belong to the informative presentations category as they condense countless research hours into manageable reports for the academic jury. 

an example of a thesis dissertation template

Since these informational presentations can be perceived as lengthy and data-filled, it is important to learn the following professional presentation skills:

  • Attention to detail
  • Be able to explain complex information in simpler terms
  • Creative thinking
  • Powerful diction
  • Working on pauses and transitions
  • Pacing the presentation, so not too much information is divulged per slide

skill requirements for informational presentations

The leading inspirational platform, TEDx, comes to mind when talking about inspirational presentations. This presentation format has the peculiarity of maximizing the engagement with the audience to divulge a message, and due to that, it has specific requirements any presenter must meet.

This presentation format usually involves a speaker on a stage, either sitting or better standing, in which the presenter engages with the audience with a storytelling format about a life experience, a job done that provided a remarkable improvement for society, etc.

using a quote slide to boost inspirational presentation skills

Empathizing with the audience is the key ingredient for these inspirational presentations. Still, creativity is what shapes the outcome of your performance as people are constantly looking for different experiences – not the same recipe rephrased with personal touches. The human factor is what matters here, way above data and research. What has your experience to offer to others? How can it motivate another human being to pursue a similar path or discover their true calling?

To achieve success in terms of communication skills presentation, these inspirational presentations have the following requirements:

  • Focus on the audience (engage, consider their interests, and make them a part of your story)
  • Putting ego aside
  • Creative communication skills
  • Storytelling skills
  • Body language knowledge to apply the correct gestures to accompany your story
  • Voice training
  • Using powerful words

skills required for inspirational presentations

After discussing the different kinds of presentations we can come across at any stage of our lives, a group of presentation skills is standard in any type of presentation. See below what makes a good presentation and which skills you must count on to succeed as a presenter.


Punctuality is a crucial aspect of giving an effective presentation. Nothing says more about respect for your audience and the organization you represent than delivering the presentation on time . Arriving last minute puts pressure on the tech team behind audiovisuals, as they don’t have enough preparation to test microphones, stage lights, and projector settings, which can lead to a less powerful presentation Even when discussing presentations hosted in small rooms for a reduced audience, testing the equipment becomes essential for an effective presentation.

A solution for this is to arrive at least 30 minutes early. Ideally, one hour is a sweet spot since the AV crew has time to check the gear and requirements for your presentation. Another benefit of this, for example, in inspirational presentations, is measuring the previous presenter’s impact on the audience. This gives insights about how to resonate with the public, and their interest, and how to accommodate your presentation for maximum impact.

Body Language

Our bodies can make emotions transparent for others, even when we are unaware of such a fact. Proper training for body language skills reduces performance anxiety, giving the audience a sense of expertise about the presented topic. 

Give your presentation and the audience the respect they deserve by watching over these potential mistakes:

  • Turning your back to the audience for extended periods : It’s okay to do so when introducing an important piece of information or explaining a graph, but it is considered rude to give your back to the audience constantly.
  • Fidgeting : We are all nervous in the presence of strangers, even more, if we are the center of attention for that moment. Instead of playing with your hair or making weird hand gestures, take a deep breath to center yourself before the presentation and remember that everything you could do to prepare is already done. Trust your instincts and give your best.
  • Intense eye contact : Have you watched a video where the presenter stared at the camera the entire time? That’s the feeling you transmit to spectators through intense eye contact. It’s a practice often used by politicians to persuade.
  • Swearing : This is a no-brainer. Even when you see influencers swearing on camera or in podcasts or live presentations, it is considered an informal and lousy practice for business and academic situations. If you have a habit to break when it comes to this point, find the humor in these situations and replace your swear words with funny alternatives (if the presentation allows for it). 

Voice Tone plays a crucial role in delivering effective presentations and knowing how to give a good presentation. Your voice is a powerful tool for exposing your ideas and feelings . Your voice can articulate the message you are telling, briefing the audience if you feel excited about what you are sharing or, in contrast, if you feel the presentation is a burden you ought to complete.

Remember, passion is a primary ingredient in convincing people. Therefore, transmitting such passion with a vibrant voice may help gather potential business partners’ interest.  

But what if you feel sick prior to the presentation? If, by chance, your throat is sore minutes before setting foot on the stage, try this: when introducing yourself, mention that you are feeling a bit under the weather. This resonates with the audience to pay more attention to your efforts. In case you don’t feel comfortable about that, ask the organizers for a cup of tea, as it will settle your throat and relax your nerves.

Tech Skills

Believe it or not, people still feel challenged by technology these days. Maybe that’s the reason why presentation giants like Tony Robbins opt not to use PowerPoint presentations . The reality is that there are plenty of elements involved in a presentation that can go wrong from the tech side:

  • A PDF not opening
  • Saving your presentation in a too-recent PowerPoint version
  • A computer not booting up
  • Mac laptops and their never-ending compatibility nightmare
  • Not knowing how to change between slides
  • Not knowing how to use a laser pointer
  • Internet not working
  • Audio not working

We can come up with a pretty long list of potential tech pitfalls, and yet more than half of them fall in presenters not being knowledgeable about technology.

If computers aren’t your thing, let the organization know about this beforehand. There is always a crew member available to help presenters switch between slides or configure the presentation for streaming. This takes the pressure off your shoulders, allowing you to concentrate on the content to present. Remember, even Bill Gates can get a BSOD during a presentation .

Presentations, while valuable for conveying information and ideas, can be daunting for many individuals. Here are some common difficulties people encounter when giving presentations:

Public Speaking Anxiety

Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, affects a significant portion of the population. This anxiety can lead to nervousness, trembling, and forgetfulness during a presentation.

Lack of Confidence

Many presenters struggle with self-doubt, fearing that they may not be knowledgeable or skilled enough to engage their audience effectively.

Content Organization

Organizing information in a coherent and engaging manner can be challenging. Presenters often grapple with how to structure their content to make it easily digestible for the audience. Artificial Intelligence can help us significantly reduce the content arrangement time when you work with tools like our AI Presentation Maker (made for presenters by experts in presentation design). 

Audience Engagement

Keeping the audience’s attention and interest throughout the presentation can be difficult. Distractions, disengaged attendees, or lack of interaction can pose challenges.

Technical Issues

Technology glitches, such as malfunctioning equipment, incompatible file formats, or poor internet connectivity, can disrupt presentations and increase stress.

Time Management

Striking the right balance between providing enough information and staying within time limits is a common challenge. Going over or under the allotted time can affect the effectiveness of the presentation.

Handling Questions and Challenges

Responding to unexpected questions, criticism, or challenges from the audience can be difficult, especially when presenters are unprepared or lack confidence in their subject matter.

Visual Aids and Technology

Creating and effectively using visual aids like slides or multimedia can be a struggle for some presenters. Technical competence is essential in this aspect.

Language and Articulation

Poor language skills or unclear articulation can hinder effective communication. Presenters may worry about stumbling over words or failing to convey their message clearly.

Maintaining appropriate and confident body language can be challenging. Avoiding nervous habits, maintaining eye contact, and using gestures effectively requires practice.

Overcoming Impersonal Delivery

In virtual presentations, maintaining a personal connection with the audience can be difficult. The absence of face-to-face interaction can make it challenging to engage and read the audience.

Cultural and Diversity Awareness

Presenting to diverse audiences requires sensitivity to cultural differences and varying levels of familiarity with the topic.

In this section, we gathered some tips on how to improve presentation skills that can certainly make an impact if applied to your presentation skills. We believe these skills can be cultivated to transform into habits for your work routine.

Tip #1: Build a narrative

One memorable way to guarantee presentation success is by writing a story of all the points you desire to cover. This statement is based on the logic behind storytelling and its power to connect with people .

Don’t waste time memorizing slides or reading your presentation to the audience. It feels unnatural, and any question that diverts from the topic in discussion certainly puts you in jeopardy or, worse, exposes you as a fraud in the eyes of the audience. And before you ask, it is really evident when a presenter has a memorized speech. 

Build and rehearse the presentation as if telling a story to a group of interested people. Lower the language barrier by avoiding complex terms that maybe even you aren’t fully aware of their meaning. Consider the ramifications of that story, what it could lead to, and which are the opportunities to explore. Then, visualize yourself giving the presentation in a natural way.

Applying this technique makes the presentation feel like second nature to you. It broadens the spectrum in which you can show expertise over a topic or even build the basis for new interesting points of view about the project.

Tip #2: Don’t talk for more than 3 minutes per slide

It is a common practice of presenters to bombard the audience with facts and information whilst retaining the same slide on the screen. Why can this happen? It could be because the presenter condensed the talk into very few slides and preferred to talk. The reality is that your spectators won’t retain the information you are giving unless you give visual cues to help that process. 

Opt to prepare more slides and pace your speech to match the topics shown on each slide. Don’t spend more than 3 minutes per slide unless you have to introduce a complex piece of data. Use visual cues to direct the spectators about what you talk about, and summarize the principal concepts discussed at the end of each section.

Tip #3: Practice meditation daily

Anxiety is the number one enemy of professional presenters. It slowly builds without you being aware of your doubts and can hinder your performance in multiple ways: making you feel paralyzed, fidgeting, making you forget language skills or concepts, affecting your health, etc.

Meditation is an ancient practice taken from Buddhist teachings that train your mind to be here in the present. We often see the concepts of meditation and mindfulness as synonyms, whereas you should be aware that meditation is a practice that sets the blocks to reach a state of mindfulness. For presenters, being in the here and now is essential to retain focus, but meditation techniques also teach us to control our breathing and be in touch with our body signals when stress builds up. 

The customary practice of meditation has an impact on imagination and creativity but also helps to build patience – a skill much needed for connecting with your audience in instructional presentations.

Having the proper set of presentation skills can be quite subjective. It goes beyond presentation tips and deepens into how flexible we can be in our ability to communicate ideas.

Different presentations and different audiences shape the outcome of our efforts. Therefore, having a basic understanding of how to connect, raise awareness, and empathize with people can be key ingredients for your career as a presenter. A word of advice: success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes dedication and patience to build communication skills . Don’t condition your work to believe you will be ready “someday”; it’s best to practice and experience failure as part of the learning process.

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what are the most important presentation skills

what are the most important presentation skills

14 Practical Tips to Improve Your Presentation Skills

  • The Speaker Lab
  • May 11, 2024

Table of Contents

Ever felt complete dread and fear at the thought of stepping up to deliver a presentation? If so, you’re not alone. The fear of public speaking is more common than you might think, but with the right presentation skills , it’s a hurdle that can be overcome.

In this article, we’ll help you master basic confidence-building techniques and conquer advanced communication strategies for engaging presentations. We’ll explore how body language and eye contact can make or break your connection with your audience; delve into preparation techniques like dealing with filler words and nervous habits; discuss tailoring content for different audiences; and much more.

Whether you’re prepping for job interviews or gearing up for big presentations, being prepared is key. With adequate practice and the proper attitude, you can crush your speech or presentation!

Mastering the Basics of Presentation Skills

Presentation skills are not just about speaking in front of a crowd. It’s also about effective communication, audience engagement, and clarity. Mastering these skills can be transformative for everyone, from students to corporate trainers.

Building Confidence in Presentations

Becoming confident when presenting is no small feat. But fear not. Even those who feel jittery at the mere thought of public speaking can become masters with practice and patience. Just remember: stage fright is common and overcoming it is part of the process towards becoming an effective presenter.

Taking deep breaths before you start helps calm nerves while visualizing success aids in building confidence. Also, know that nobody minds if you take a moment to gather your thoughts during your presentation—everybody minds more if they cannot understand what you’re saying because you’re rushing.

The Role of Practice in Enhancing Presentation Skills

In line with old wisdom, practice indeed makes perfect, especially when improving presentation skills. Consistent rehearsals allow us to fine-tune our delivery methods like maintaining eye contact or controlling body language effectively.

You’ll learn better control over filler words through repeated drills. Plus, the extra practice can help you troubleshoot any technical glitches beforehand, saving you the sudden panic during your actual presentations.

Remember that great presenters were once beginners too. Continuous effort will get you there sooner rather than later.

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Body Language and Eye Contact in Presentations

The effectiveness of your presentation can hinge on more than just the words you say. Just as important is your body language .

Impact of Posture on Presentations

Your posture speaks volumes before you utter a word. Standing tall exudes confidence while slouching could signal nervousness or lack of preparation.

If there’s one lesson to take away from our YouTube channel , it’s this: good presenters know their message but great ones feel it through every fiber (or muscle) of their being. The audience can sense that energy when they see open body language rather than crossed arms.

Maintaining Eye Contact During Your Presentation

Eyes are often called windows to the soul for a reason. They’re communication powerhouses. Making eye contact helps build trust with your audience members and keeps them engaged throughout your speech.

Avoid staring at note cards or visual aids too much as this might give an impression that you’re unprepared or uncertain about your chosen topic. Instead, aim to maintain eye contact between 50% of the time during presentations. This commonly accepted “50/70 rule” will help you exhibit adequate confidence to your audience.

If stage fright has gotten a hold on you, take deep breaths before you start speaking in order to stay calm. Make sure that fear doesn’t disrupt your ability to maintain eye-contact during presentations.

If body language and eye contact still feel like a lot to manage during your big presentation, remember our golden rule: nobody minds small mistakes. It’s how you handle questions or mishaps that truly makes a difference—so stay positive and enthusiastic.

Preparation Techniques for Successful Presentations

Presentation skills are like a craft that requires meticulous preparation and practice. Aspects like visual aids and time management contribute to the overall effectiveness of your delivery.

The first step towards delivering an impactful presentation is research and organization. The content should be well-researched, structured logically, and presented in simple language. This will make sure you deliver clear messages without any room for misinterpretation.

Dealing with Filler Words and Nervous Habits

Nervous habits such as excessive use of filler words can distract from your message. Luckily, there are plenty of strategies that can address these issues. For instance, try taking deep breaths before speaking or using note cards until fluency is achieved. In addition, practice regularly to work on eliminating these verbal stumbling blocks.

Avoiding Distractions During Presentations

In a digital age where distractions abound, maintaining focus during presentations has become an even more crucial part of the preparation process. This video by motivational speaker Brain Tracy provides insights on how one could achieve this level of focus required for effective presentations.

Maintaining Confidence Throughout Your Presentation

Confidence comes from thorough understanding of the chosen topic combined with regular practice sessions before the big day arrives. Make use of note cards or cue cards as needed but avoid reading from them verbatim.

Taking control over stage fright starts by arriving early at the venue so that you familiarize yourself with the surroundings, which generally calms nerves down considerably. So next time you feel nervous before a big presentation, remember—thorough preparation can make all the difference.

Engaging Your Audience During Presentations

Connecting with your audience during presentations is an art, and mastering it can take your presentation skills to the next level. Making the message conveyed reach an emotional level is essential, not just conveying facts.

Understanding Your Target Audience

The first step towards engaging your audience is understanding them. Tailor the content of your presentation to their needs and interests. Speak in their language—whether that be professional jargon or everyday slang—to establish rapport and ensure comprehension.

An effective presenter understands who they’re speaking to, what those individuals care about, and how best to communicate complex ideas understandably.

Making Complex Information Understandable

Dense data or complicated concepts can lose even the most interested listener if presented ineffectively. Breaking your key points down into manageable chunks helps maintain attention while promoting retention. Analogies are especially useful for this purpose as they make unfamiliar topics more relatable.

Audience Participation & Questions: A Two-Way Street

Incorporating opportunities for audience participation encourages engagement at another level. It allows listeners to become active participants rather than passive receivers of knowledge.

Consider techniques like live polls or interactive Q&A sessions where you invite questions from attendees mid-presentation instead of saving all queries until the end.

This gives you a chance not only engage but also address any misunderstandings right on spot.

  • Treat each question asked as an opportunity—it’s evidence someone has been paying attention. Even challenging questions should be welcomed as they demonstrate an engaged, thoughtful audience.
  • Encourage participation. It can be as simple as a show of hands or the use of interactive technologies for live polling during your presentation. This keeps your audience active and invested in the content.

Remember, your presentation isn’t just about putting on a show—it’s about meaningful interaction.

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Presentation Skills in Specific Contexts

Whether you’re nailing your next job interview, presenting an exciting marketing campaign, or delivering insightful educational content, the context matters. Let’s take a look.

The Art of Job Interviews

A successful job interview often hinges on effective communication and confidence. Here, the target audience is usually small but holds significant influence over your future prospects. Body language plays a crucial role; maintain eye contact to show sincerity and interest while open body language communicates approachability.

Bullet points summarizing key experiences are also helpful for quick recall under pressure. This allows you to present your chosen topic with clarity and positive enthusiasm without relying heavily on note or cue cards.

Pitching in Public Relations & Marketing

In public relations (PR) and marketing contexts, presentations need to capture attention quickly yet hold it long enough to deliver key messages effectively. Visual aids are valuable tools here—they help emphasize points while keeping the audience engaged.

Your aim should be highlighting presentation benefits that resonate with potential clients or partners, making them feel as though ignoring such opportunities would mean missing out big time.

Educational Presentations

An educational setting demands its own unique set of presentation skills where deep understanding trumps flashy visuals. You must make complex information understandable without oversimplifying essential details—the use of analogies can be beneficial here.

Keeping the audience’s attention is critical. Encourage questions and participation to foster a more interactive environment, enhancing learning outcomes for all audience members.

Tips for Becoming a Great Presenter

No single method is suitable for everyone when it comes to speaking in public. However, incorporating continuous improvement and practice into your routine can make you an exceptional presenter.

Tailor Your Presentation to Your Audience

Becoming an excellent speaker isn’t just about delivering information; it’s also about making a connection with the audience. So make sure that you’re taking setting, audience, and topic into consideration when crafting your presentation. What works for one audience may not work for another, so be sure to adapt your presentation styles according to the occasion in order to be truly effective.

The Power of Practice

The art of mastering public speaking skills requires practice —and lots of it . To become a great presenter, focus on improving communication skills through practice and feedback from peers or mentors. Try to seek feedback on every speech delivered and incorporate those pointers in your future presentations. Over time, this cycle of delivery-feedback-improvement significantly enhances your ability to connect with audiences and convey ideas effectively.

If you’re looking for examples of good speakers, our speech breakdowns on YouTube provide excellent examples of experienced presenters who masterfully utilize speaking techniques. Analyzing their strategies could give you great ideas for enhancing your own style.

Finding Your Style

A crucial part of captivating any audience lies in how you deliver the message rather than the message itself. Developing a unique presentation style lets you stand out as an engaging speaker who commands attention throughout their talk. Through — you guessed it — practice, you can develop a personal presentation style that resonates with listeners while showcasing your expertise on the chosen topic.

Your body language plays a pivotal role here: open gestures communicate confidence and enthusiasm towards your subject matter, two qualities essential for keeping audiences hooked. Similarly, using vocal variety adds dynamism to speeches by emphasizing points when needed or creating suspense during storytelling parts of your talk.

Cultivating Passion & Enthusiasm

Showcasing genuine passion for the subject helps keep listeners engaged throughout even lengthy presentations. Sharing stories related to the topic or expressing excitement about sharing knowledge tends to draw people in more than mere data recitation ever could.

Recognize that everybody is distinctive; don’t expect identical results from every speaker. The path to becoming a great presenter involves recognizing your strengths and working tirelessly on areas that need improvement.

FAQs on Presentation Skills

What are good presentation skills.

Good presentation skills include a clear message, confident delivery, engaging body language, audience understanding, and interaction. They also involve effective preparation and practice.

What are the 5 steps of presentation skills?

The five steps of presenting include: planning your content, preparing visual aids if needed, practicing the delivery aloud, performing it with confidence, and finally post-presentation reflection for improvements.

What are the 5 P’s of presentation skills?

The five P’s stand for Preparation (researching your topic), Practice (rehearsing your talk), Performance (delivering with confidence), Posture (standing tall), and Projection (using a strong voice).

What are your presentation skills?

Your personal set of abilities to deliver information effectively is what we call your presentation skill. It can encompass public speaking ability, clarity in speech or writing as well as visual communication talent.

Mastering presentation skills isn’t an overnight process, but practice and perseverance will put you well on your way to becoming an effective speaker.

You’ve learned that confidence plays a crucial role in effective presentations, so take deep breaths, make eye contact, and keep your body language open. As always, preparation is key. Tackle filler words head-on and get comfortable with visual aids for impactful storytelling.

Remember the importance of audience engagement — it’s all about understanding their needs and tailoring your content accordingly. This way, complex information turns into digestible insights.

Above all else: practice! After all, nothing beats experience when it comes to improving public speaking abilities.

  • Last Updated: May 9, 2024

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Unlock effective presentation skills (tips and best practices)

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Anete Ezera March 23, 2023

Presentation skills are a crucial aspect of communication in today’s world. Whether you’re delivering a pitch to potential investors, giving a lecture in front of a class, or trying to make a point at a meeting, your ability to effectively present your ideas can greatly impact your success. However, not everyone is a natural-born speaker. Many struggle with nerves and self-doubt when it comes to presenting in front of an audience. But don’t worry! Improving your presentation skills is possible with practice and dedication. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with practical tips that will help you become a confident and engaging speaker. From preparing your material to engaging with your audience, we’ll cover everything you need to know to take your presentation skills to the next level. So whether you’re just starting out or looking to refine your existing presentation skills, read on for all the advice and inspiration you need to succeed.

Confident business woman presents quarterly progress in meeting using a large display screen. Photographed through a window with reflections using effective presentation skills.

Types of Presentations

Before we dive into specific presentation skills, it’s important to define the different types of presentations that may require different skills in how they’re presented. There are several types of presentations you can choose from, each with its own distinct format and style. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of presentations:

Narrative presentations

In these types of presentations, the speaker focuses on telling a story that engages the audience and reinforces the main message. This type of presentation is perfect for engaging and entertaining an audience. It helps to keep the audience interested and focused and can be a great way to reinforce the main message. However, it can also be time-consuming to prepare a well-structured narrative.

Prezi template gallery for narrative presentations

Informative presentations

These types of presentations are designed to provide information on a specific topic. The speaker focuses on delivering accurate and relevant information to the audience in an organized and straightforward manner. This type of presentation is great for providing accurate and relevant information to the audience. The organized and straightforward delivery makes it easy for the audience to understand and retain the information. However, it can be difficult to keep the audience engaged and interested if the presentation is too dry or lacks excitement.

what are the most important presentation skills

Persuasive presentations 

In persuasive presentations, the speaker aims to convince the audience to take a specific action or adopt a particular point of view. This type of presentation often includes arguments, statistics, and other persuasive techniques. However, if the arguments are weak or the persuasive techniques are ineffective, the presentation can fall flat and fail to achieve its intended outcome.

Prezi template gallery for persuasive presentations

Demonstrative Presentations

These types of presentations focus on demonstrating a product or service to the audience. The speaker often includes visual aids, such as slides or videos, to help illustrate the key features and benefits of the product or service. However, it can be difficult to keep the audience engaged if the demonstration is too lengthy or repetitive.

Prezi Video template gallery for demonstrative presentations

Instructional Presentations

Instructional presentations are designed to teach the audience a specific skill or provide them with step-by-step instructions. The speaker often uses visual aids, such as diagrams or slides, to make the instructions clear and easy to follow. It’s perfect for teaching the audience how to perform a specific task. The use of visual aids, such as diagrams or slides, makes it easy for the audience to understand and follow the instructions. In this type of presentation, it’s important to present the instructions in a highly engaging way so the audience doesn’t lose interest.

Choosing the right type of presentation format can greatly impact the success of your presentation. Consider the audience, the message you want to convey, and the resources available to you, when deciding on the best presentation format for your needs. Once you’ve decided on a presentation format, you can move on to developing certain presentation skills that are most important for the specific case. 

what are the most important presentation skills

Presentation delivery methods

The way you deliver your presentation is crucial. Therefore, we want to highlight this aspect before we dive into other effective presentation skills. A delivery method can make or break a presentation, regardless of the quality of the content. There are various methods of presentation delivery. The choice of method depends on the type of audience, the topic of the presentation, and the desired outcome. Discover 4 ways you can deliver a presentation and what kind of skills and approach they require. 

Traditional delivery

One of the most common presentation delivery methods is the traditional method of standing in front of an audience and delivering a speech. This method is suitable for formal presentations, such as keynote speeches, lectures, and corporate presentations. This method requires the speaker to have excellent public speaking skills, including voice modulation, body language, and eye contact. A traditional presentation delivery usually follows a classical presentation outline that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

Visually-focused presentation delivery

Another method of presentation delivery is the use of visual aids. This method involves using multimedia tools, such as images, videos, and infographics. Visual aids are effective because they can help the audience to better understand complex information, and they can also serve as a reference for the audience to refer to after the presentation. However, visuals should not be the sole focus of the presentation, as they can distract the audience from the message. 

If you want to create a visually-focused presentation, discover different Prezi presentation templates, and be sure to add images, videos, data visualizations, GIFs, stickers, and other visuals that you can find in Prezi’s content library and Prezi Design.  

If you want to learn more about the use of visuals in a presentation, and what are the best design practices, watch this video:

Interactive presentation delivery

Another way to deliver a presentation is by using interactive methods such as group discussions, role-plays, and simulations. This method is suitable for presentations that require the audience to actively participate in the presentation. Interactive presentations can be useful for training sessions, team-building exercises, and workshops. 

On Prezi, you can create highly interactive presentations where your audience can be active participants. Prezi’s non-linear format allows you to jump between topics instead of flipping through slides, so your presentation feels more like a conversation than a speech.

Storyteller delivery

The last method of presentation delivery is storytelling. It involves the use of anecdotes, personal experiences, and stories to deliver a message. Storytelling is a highly effective tool because it can help the audience to relate to the message on a personal level. 

Storytelling can also be used to make a presentation more engaging and entertaining. 

If you want to visually showcase a relation between two aspects and capture the transitional movement in a timeline, use motion, zoom, and spatial relationships in a Prezi presentation to showcase the nuances of your story world. 

Regardless of the presentation delivery method, make sure to follow the best presentation practices:

  • Be well-prepared and knowledgeable about the topic. This can be achieved through research, practice, and rehearsal.
  • Use clear and concise language that is easy for the audience to understand. You should avoid using jargon and technical terms, or you can take time to explain them to the audience. 
  • Work on engaging the audience using eye contact, body language, and humor. This can help you establish a connection with the audience and make the presentation more engaging. 
  • Be mindful of the time and ensure that the presentation is delivered within the allotted time frame.  
  • Use effective visuals, if applicable, to support your message without overpowering it.

Women presenting with a confident body language presentation skill

Effective presentation skills

There are numerous skills that you can develop to improve your presentations. In this article, we’ve summoned the following 8 presentation skills that are essential to any presenter that wants to make an impact with their message.

1. Effective communication

Effective communication skills are critical when it comes to presenting information to others. Presentations require a clear and concise message, and communication skills are key in delivering this message to your audience. Good communication skills allow you to connect with your audience, build rapport, and maintain engagement throughout the presentation. In addition, communication skills allow you to articulate your ideas and arguments clearly, and to respond to questions or challenges effectively. 

To improve this skill, practice speaking in front of a mirror or recording yourself to identify areas where you may need improvement. Also, consider using vocal techniques such as varying your tone and volume to keep your audience engaged.

2. Confident body language

Confident body language is an essential presentation skill as it communicates to the audience that the speaker is credible, knowledgeable, and in control. A confident posture, eye contact, and gestures can help you establish a strong presence and build rapport with the audience. It also helps you to convey your message more effectively. 

To practice confident body language, start by standing tall with shoulders back and head held high. Also, make eye contact with the audience and use natural hand gestures to emphasize key points. It’s also important to practice speaking clearly and with conviction, as this can further enhance the impact of confident body language during a presentation. 

If you’re interested in learning more about body language, read our article on 9 secrets to a confident body language . 

Shot of a young businessman delivering a presentation to his colleagues in the boardroom of a modern office. Useinf effective presentation skills and confident body language.

3. Audience engagement

Being able to engage your audience is a crucial presentation skill because it ensures that your message is well-received and understood. When you engage your audience, you capture their attention and maintain their interest throughout your presentation. This can make the difference between a successful presentation and one that falls flat. Holding the attention of your audience requires a combination of factors, such as having a clear message, being confident and comfortable in your delivery, using visual aids effectively, and connecting with your audience on a personal level. 

To improve this skill, you can practice rehearsing your presentation in front of friends or colleagues and seeking feedback. You can also try studying successful public speakers and their techniques and incorporating audience participation activities into your presentation to keep them engaged and interested. 

Additionally, you can engage your audience by opting for a motion-based presentation. It’ll enhance the impact of your content and ideas, making it more captivating for your audience to watch than a slide-based presentation. On Prezi, you can use motion, spatial relationships, and zooming effects to create highly impactful presentations. 

4. Time management

Time management is an essential presentation skill as it helps to ensure that you deliver your message effectively and efficiently within the allotted time. Poor time management can lead to an unprofessional and unprepared presentation, leaving the audience disinterested or confused.

To practice good time management, begin by planning and rehearsing your presentation in advance. It’s important to allocate sufficient time to each section and consider factors such as audience engagement and potential interruptions. You can also use time-tracking tools and practice pacing yourself during rehearsals to ensure you stay on schedule. By mastering time management, you can deliver a polished and engaging presentation, leaving a positive and lasting impression on your audience.

5. Content organization

Effective organization of presentation content is crucial for any presenter, as it determines the clarity and impact of the message. Organized content can help you convey your ideas in a logical and coherent manner, which aids in maintaining the audience’s attention and retention of information. 

To ensure that your presentation’s content is well-organized, it’s important to follow a few key steps. 

  • Identify the main points you want to convey and arrange them in a logical order.
  • Create a clear outline that includes an introduction, main body, and conclusion.
  • Use transition words or phrases to smoothly connect each point to the next. 
  • Ensure that your presentation has a consistent flow and that each point supports your overall message. 

By following these steps, you can effectively organize your presentation’s content and create a memorable and impactful experience for the viewers.

If you’re creating a sales presentation, be sure to read our step-by-step guide on crafting a winning sales presentation .

Also, discover how to best structure your presentation based on your presentation goal in this video:

6. Storytelling 

Storytelling is a powerful presentation skill that can captivate your audience’s attention and enhance the impact of your message. Stories allow us to connect with people on a deeper emotional level, and help us convey complex ideas in an easy-to-understand way. When we tell a story, we engage our audience, evoke their imagination, and inspire them to take action. 

To develop strong storytelling skills, you should practice telling stories with a clear beginning, middle, and end that convey a message or lesson. It’s also important to incorporate sensory details, such as sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste, to help the audience visualize the story. Also, make sure to focus on the tone of your delivery, including voice inflection, body language, and facial expressions, to effectively convey the emotions and dynamics of the story. Finally, use one of Prezi’s presentation templates like the one visualized below, or create your own story presentation on Prezi and visualize relations between topics, events, and characters using spatial relationships and visual hierarchy. 

By mastering the art of storytelling, you can deliver a powerful presentation that resonates with the audience and creates a lasting impression.

7. Adaptability

Adaptability is a crucial presentation skill – it allows you to adjust and respond to unexpected situations, changes, and challenges during the presentation. The key is to be properly prepared. This means researching your topic and practicing your presentation speech enough so that you’re prepared for any changes or questions that may arise. When you’re prepared, you’ll feel more present and be able to read the room and adjust to your audience’s needs and interests. Also, be flexible and open-minded to new information, feedback, and audience reactions. This skill will enable you to think on your feet and modify your content or delivery style accordingly. 

And lastly, you want to uphold the quality of your presentation no matter where you’re presenting, online or offline. If you need to adapt your presentation to an online experience, use Prezi Video and simply import your already-existing Prezi, Powerpoint, or Google slides, and deliver the same level of presence and quality as offline. With Prezi Video, you can showcase your slides next to you on-screen as you present, keeping that face-to-face interaction. 

Make sure to check out Prezi Video templates that you can find in Prezi’s template gallery .

Prezi Video template gallery

8. Confidence

Last but definitely not least, one of the key presentation skills a great presenter possesses is confidence . Presenting with confidence can help you engage your audience and convince them of your authority and knowledge on the topic at hand. When you exude confidence, the audience is more likely to trust you and your message, leading to better communication and understanding. 

Developing confidence can be achieved through several methods. Practicing your speech multiple times, visualizing a successful presentation, and focusing on positive self-talk are all techniques that can help boost your confidence. Additionally, learning to control body language and voice tone can also have a positive effect on confidence levels during your time in the spotlight. 

By implementing these strategies, you can build your confidence and improve your presentation skills each time you’re speaking in front of an audience. 

Discover more about effective presentation skills in this video:

How to improve public speaking and presentation skills

While working on the effective presentation skills we listed above, you may feel nervous about public speaking in general. It’s no secret that public speaking can be a daunting task for many people. However, if you want to be a powerful, confident, and impactful presenter, you need to overcome your fear of anxiety of public speaking and improve the way you feel and appear when presenting. 

If you want to learn more about different techniques that can help you calm down before a presentation, here’s a helpful video for you to watch:

To help you become better at public speaking, we summoned 20 tips you can follow:

1. Practice, practice, practice

One of the most effective ways to become more comfortable with public speaking is to practice your speech as much as possible. When you practice, you can work out any kinks or rough spots that you may encounter when giving your speech in front of an audience. Additionally, practicing allows you to become more familiar with the material, making it easier to remember and deliver with confidence. While it may be tempting to simply read your speech from a script or cue cards, practicing your speech will allow you to internalize the material and deliver it with greater ease, flow, and naturalness. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you take the time to practice your speech as much as possible before giving it in front of an audience, whether that be your friends, family, or colleagues.

2. Use presenter notes 

Preparing for a presentation can be a lengthy endeavor, particularly if you aim to memorize the entire script. Trying to remember every point can be challenging. Plus, the stress of public speaking can cause you to overlook crucial details. Jotting down your talking points can help you stay organized and avoid forgetting any essential information. However, relying solely on flashcards or paper notes may not be ideal. Constantly glancing at sticky notes or looking away from your audience can disrupt the flow of your presentation and disconnect you from your listeners. Instead, try using presenter notes on Prezi , where you can easily add notes to each slide. While presenting, you’ll be the only one that sees them, helping you deliver an impressive presentation with maximum confidence. 

3. Know your audience

When delivering a speech, it’s important to analyze and understand the audience you’ll be speaking to. By doing so, you can tailor your speech to their interests and needs. This means that you should take into account factors such as their age range, educational background, and cultural or professional affiliations. Additionally, it’s important to research the topic you’ll be discussing thoroughly and provide examples that are relevant to your audience. By doing this, you can ensure that your message will resonate with your listeners and leave a lasting impact.

4. Start with a strong opening

To really captivate your audience, it’s important to start with a strong opening that grabs their attention and sets the tone for the rest of your speech. One approach could be to start with a thought-provoking question or a powerful anecdote that relates to your topic. Alternatively, you could begin with a surprising fact or statistic that shocks and intrigues your listeners. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s attention-grabbing and relevant to the message you want to convey. Remember, the opening of your speech is your chance to make a lasting impression, so make it count!

Discover other ways to start your presentation speech and watch this video for more tips on starting a virtual presentation: 

5. Use humor

Using humor can be a great way to start off a presentation. It can help to reduce the tension in the room and make your audience feel more at ease. For example, you could start off with a joke or a funny story that relates to your topic. Alternatively, you could use a humorous image or meme to grab your audience’s attention. Just be sure not to overdo it – too many jokes can detract from your message and make you seem unprofessional. Remember that the ultimate goal of your presentation is to communicate information and ideas effectively, so use humor wisely.

6. Incorporate stories

Using stories in your speech can be an incredibly powerful tool. Personal stories, in particular, can help illustrate your points and make your message more memorable. By sharing a personal experience, you can connect with your audience on a deeper level and create an emotional bond. This can help them better understand your message and remember it long after your speech is over.

One way to incorporate personal stories into your speech is to draw from your own life experiences. Think about a time when you faced a challenge or overcame an obstacle, and how that experience taught you something valuable. Share that story with your audience and explain how the lessons you learned can be applied to their lives as well.

You can also use stories to illustrate more abstract concepts. For example, if you’re giving a talk about the importance of perseverance, you could share a story about someone who faced numerous setbacks but refused to give up. By sharing that story, you can make the concept of perseverance more concrete and relatable to your audience.

Confident businessman talking into microphone during seminar. Happy male professional is giving presentation to colleagues. He is wearing smart casuals.

7. Use pauses

Using pauses is a great way to enhance your communication skills. In fact, when you take breaks in your speech, can help you gather your thoughts and think more clearly. Pausing also allows you to emphasize key points you want to make in your speech. Additionally, by using pauses strategically, you give your audience time to process the information you’re sharing with them, which can help ensure that they understand and retain it better. All in all, incorporating pauses into your speaking style can be incredibly effective in making your message more impactful and memorable.

8. Speak clearly and loudly

When delivering a speech or presentation, it’s important to speak in a manner that is clear and easy to understand. However, it’s equally important to ensure that your voice is projected loudly enough for your audience to hear you. Speaking too softly can make it difficult for people in the back of the room or in larger spaces to hear what you’re saying, which can lead to confusion and a lack of engagement. To avoid this, try to practice projecting your voice and enunciating your words clearly before you give your speech. You can also use tools like microphones or audio amplifiers to help ensure that your message is heard loud and clear by everyone in the room.

9. Take deep breaths

Taking deep breaths is a great way to help you relax and calm your nerves, but there are other things you can do too. For example, you might want to try some light yoga or stretching exercises to loosen up your muscles and release tension. Also, you could take a warm bath or shower to soothe your body and mind. Another option is to listen to some calming music or read a book that you enjoy. By taking the time to find what works best for you, you can develop a personalized relaxation routine that you can turn to whenever you need it.

Relaxed calm business woman take deep breath of fresh air resting with eyes closed at work in home office. Doing office yoga and meditating with closed eyes.

10. Use repetition

Repetition is a powerful tool that can help you drive the point home in your speech. By repeating key points, you can reinforce your message and increase your chances of being remembered. In addition, repetition can help you emphasize important ideas and create a sense of rhythm in your speech. It can also be used to build suspense and create a sense of anticipation in your listeners. With these benefits in mind, it’s clear that repetition is an essential aspect of effective public speaking.

11. Use active verbs

One way to improve the effectiveness of your speech is to use active verbs. Active verbs help to create a more engaging and dynamic presentation, as they convey a sense of action and energy. By using active verbs, you can help to capture your audience’s attention and hold their interest throughout your speech.

In addition to using active verbs, it’s also important to consider the pace and rhythm of your speech. Varying the speed and tone of your delivery can help to keep your audience engaged and prevent them from becoming bored or disinterested.

Another way to enhance the impact of your speech is to use vivid language and descriptive imagery. By painting a vivid picture with your words, you can help to create a more memorable and impactful presentation. For example, instead of simply saying “the sky was blue,” you could describe it as “a brilliant shade of deep blues, like the ocean on a clear summer day.”

By focusing on these key elements of effective speechwriting, you can help to create a more engaging and impactful presentation that will leave a lasting impression on your audience.

12. Ask rhetorical questions

Rhetorical questions are a powerful tool that can help make your speech more engaging and interactive. They can be used to stimulate critical thinking, provoke curiosity, and encourage the audience to reflect on the topic at hand. By asking a thought-provoking question, you can capture the audience’s attention and encourage them to think about the subject matter in a new and different way. Furthermore, rhetorical questions can be used to create a sense of anticipation and excitement, as the audience eagerly anticipates the answer to the question you have posed. 

Close up of a group of sales people having a sales team meeting in a conference room

13. Use metaphors and similes

Metaphors and similes are powerful tools that can help individuals better understand complex concepts. They are like a flashlight that illuminates the dark corners of the mind, providing clarity and insight. By comparing two seemingly different things, metaphors and similes can create a bridge between the familiar and the unfamiliar, allowing individuals to grasp difficult ideas with ease. In our fast-paced world, where information overload is a common issue, the use of metaphors and similes can help cut through the noise and deliver a clear message. So, the next time you encounter a challenging concept, remember to use these techniques to shed light on the subject matter.

14. Prepare handouts

When giving a speech, it’s important to remember that your audience needs to be able to follow along with what you’re saying. One way to help them do this is by using handouts. Handouts can be a great way to enhance your presentation because they allow you to provide additional information that may not be covered in your speech. For example, you can use handouts to provide graphs, charts, or other visuals that illustrate your points. Additionally, handouts can be a useful tool for your audience to take notes and refer back to later. By providing handouts, you can ensure that your audience is engaged and able to fully understand the information you’re presenting.

15. Incorporate props

Using props during your speech is a great way to enhance your delivery and keep your audience engaged. By incorporating visual aids such as props, you can help to illustrate your points and add depth to your content. Additionally, props can be used to make abstract concepts more concrete and easier for your audience to understand. For example, if you’re delivering a speech on the importance of recycling, you could bring in a visual prop such as a bin of recyclable materials to help drive home your message. Overall, the use of props can help take your speech to the next level while making it more memorable and impactful for your audience.

16. Practice in front of a mirror

Another useful tip for improving your presentation skills is to practice in front of a mirror. Not only can this help you perfect your body language and delivery, but it can also give you a better sense of how you come across to others. Additionally, practicing in front of a mirror can help you identify any nervous habits or tics that you may have, allowing you to work on eliminating them before your actual presentation. Overall, incorporating mirror practice into your preparation routine can be a simple yet effective way to boost your confidence and improve your presentation skills.

Practicing presentation skills in front of a mirror.

17. Join a public speaking group

Joining a public speaking group is a great way to improve your public speaking skills. Not only will you have the opportunity to practice speaking in front of others, but you’ll also receive valuable feedback that can help you improve. Additionally, by joining a group, you’ll have the chance to meet and network with other like-minded individuals who share a passion for public speaking. This can lead to new opportunities and connections that can benefit you both personally and professionally. Finally, being part of a public speaking group can also provide a sense of community and support, as you work together with others to achieve your goals and improve your skills.

18. Record yourself 

Another way to enhance your public speaking skills is to record yourself. By doing this, you can identify areas where you need to improve and refine your delivery. When you listen to yourself speak, you can pay attention to your pitch, pacing, and tone. You can also identify filler words or phrases, such as “um” or “like,” that you might use unconsciously. Additionally, recording yourself can help you become more comfortable with the sound of your voice. This can be especially helpful if you’re not used to hearing yourself speak for extended periods of time. Overall, recording yourself is a simple yet effective way to become a more confident and polished public speaker.

19. Learn to handle interruptions

One of the most common challenges that speakers face is handling interruptions. These interruptions can come in many different forms, such as unexpected questions, technical difficulties, or distractions in the environment. It’s important to learn how to handle these interruptions gracefully, as they can often derail a speech and throw off the speaker’s focus and confidence.

One key strategy for handling interruptions is to remain calm and composed. It’s natural to feel frustrated or flustered when faced with an interruption, but it’s important to take a deep breath and stay focused. Remember that interruptions are a normal part of public speaking, and they don’t have to ruin your presentation. If you need a moment to collect your thoughts, don’t be afraid to pause and take a few seconds to regroup.

By learning to handle interruptions with grace and composure, you can become a more effective and confident speaker. With practice and preparation, you can manage interruptions and keep your presentation on track, even in challenging situations.

Rear view shot of a businessman raising hand to ask questions during a seminar. Professional asking query during a launch event in convention center.

20. End on a strong note

When giving a speech, it’s important to not only focus on what you say during the body of your presentation, but also on the way in which you conclude. A strong presentation should summarize the main points of your speech and leave a lasting impression on your audience. This can be achieved by reiterating your main points in a memorable way, making a call to action, or leaving your audience with a thought-provoking question. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your message resonates with your audience long after your speech has ended.

Another useful technique is to anticipate potential interruptions and plan how to address them in advance. For example, if you’re giving a presentation with a Q&A session at the end, be prepared for questions that might challenge your ideas or require additional information. It can be helpful to practice your responses to common questions ahead of time so that you feel more confident and prepared.

Discover other memorable ways how to end a presentation.

Effective presentation skills are key. While not everyone may be a natural-born speaker, with practice and dedication, anyone can improve their abilities to become a confident and engaging presenter. Whether you’re pitching to investors, delivering a lecture, or presenting in a meeting, being able to effectively present your ideas can greatly impact your success.

Remember, becoming a great presenter is a journey that requires patience, perseverance, and constant improvement. Don’t be afraid to seek feedback from others, practice regularly, and try out new techniques. With time, you’ll become more comfortable and confident in your abilities to deliver engaging and impactful presentations.

In conclusion, improving your presentation skills is a worthwhile investment that can pay dividends in both your personal and professional life. So take the time to hone your abilities, put in the effort, and embrace the opportunities that come your way. With the tips and techniques we’ve provided in this blog post, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a confident presenter.

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Powerful and Effective Presentation Skills: More in Demand Now Than Ever

what are the most important presentation skills

When we talk with our L&D colleagues from around the globe, we often hear that presentation skills training is one of the top opportunities they’re looking to provide their learners. And this holds true whether their learners are individual contributors, people managers, or senior leaders. This is not surprising.

Effective communications skills are a powerful career activator, and most of us are called upon to communicate in some type of formal presentation mode at some point along the way.

For instance, you might be asked to brief management on market research results, walk your team through a new process, lay out the new budget, or explain a new product to a client or prospect. Or you may want to build support for a new idea, bring a new employee into the fold, or even just present your achievements to your manager during your performance review.

And now, with so many employees working from home or in hybrid mode, and business travel in decline, there’s a growing need to find new ways to make effective presentations when the audience may be fully virtual or a combination of in person and remote attendees.

Whether you’re making a standup presentation to a large live audience, or a sit-down one-on-one, whether you’re delivering your presentation face to face or virtually, solid presentation skills matter.

Even the most seasoned and accomplished presenters may need to fine-tune or update their skills. Expectations have changed over the last decade or so. Yesterday’s PowerPoint which primarily relied on bulleted points, broken up by the occasional clip-art image, won’t cut it with today’s audience.

The digital revolution has revolutionized the way people want to receive information. People expect presentations that are more visually interesting. They expect to see data, metrics that support assertions. And now, with so many previously in-person meetings occurring virtually, there’s an entirely new level of technical preparedness required.

The leadership development tools and the individual learning opportunities you’re providing should include presentation skills training that covers both the evergreen fundamentals and the up-to-date capabilities that can make or break a presentation.

So, just what should be included in solid presentation skills training? Here’s what I think.

The fundamentals will always apply When it comes to making a powerful and effective presentation, the fundamentals will always apply. You need to understand your objective. Is it strictly to convey information, so that your audience’s knowledge is increased? Is it to persuade your audience to take some action? Is it to convince people to support your idea? Once you understand what your objective is, you need to define your central message. There may be a lot of things you want to share with your audience during your presentation, but find – and stick with – the core, the most important point you want them to walk away with. And make sure that your message is clear and compelling.

You also need to tailor your presentation to your audience. Who are they and what might they be expecting? Say you’re giving a product pitch to a client. A technical team may be interested in a lot of nitty-gritty product detail. The business side will no doubt be more interested in what returns they can expect on their investment.

Another consideration is the setting: is this a formal presentation to a large audience with questions reserved for the end, or a presentation in a smaller setting where there’s the possibility for conversation throughout? Is your presentation virtual or in-person? To be delivered individually or as a group? What time of the day will you be speaking? Will there be others speaking before you and might that impact how your message will be received?

Once these fundamentals are established, you’re in building mode. What are the specific points you want to share that will help you best meet your objective and get across your core message? Now figure out how to convey those points in the clearest, most straightforward, and succinct way. This doesn’t mean that your presentation has to be a series of clipped bullet points. No one wants to sit through a presentation in which the presenter reads through what’s on the slide. You can get your points across using stories, fact, diagrams, videos, props, and other types of media.

Visual design matters While you don’t want to clutter up your presentation with too many visual elements that don’t serve your objective and can be distracting, using a variety of visual formats to convey your core message will make your presentation more memorable than slides filled with text. A couple of tips: avoid images that are cliched and overdone. Be careful not to mix up too many different types of images. If you’re using photos, stick with photos. If you’re using drawn images, keep the style consistent. When data are presented, stay consistent with colors and fonts from one type of chart to the next. Keep things clear and simple, using data to support key points without overwhelming your audience with too much information. And don’t assume that your audience is composed of statisticians (unless, of course, it is).

When presenting qualitative data, brief videos provide a way to engage your audience and create emotional connection and impact. Word clouds are another way to get qualitative data across.

Practice makes perfect You’ve pulled together a perfect presentation. But it likely won’t be perfect unless it’s well delivered. So don’t forget to practice your presentation ahead of time. Pro tip: record yourself as you practice out loud. This will force you to think through what you’re going to say for each element of your presentation. And watching your recording will help you identify your mistakes—such as fidgeting, using too many fillers (such as “umm,” or “like”), or speaking too fast.

A key element of your preparation should involve anticipating any technical difficulties. If you’ve embedded videos, make sure they work. If you’re presenting virtually, make sure that the lighting is good, and that your speaker and camera are working. Whether presenting in person or virtually, get there early enough to work out any technical glitches before your presentation is scheduled to begin. Few things are a bigger audience turn-off than sitting there watching the presenter struggle with the delivery mechanisms!

Finally, be kind to yourself. Despite thorough preparation and practice, sometimes, things go wrong, and you need to recover in the moment, adapt, and carry on. It’s unlikely that you’ll have caused any lasting damage and the important thing is to learn from your experience, so your next presentation is stronger.

How are you providing presentation skills training for your learners?

Manika Gandhi is Senior Learning Design Manager at Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning. Email her at [email protected] .

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Most Important Presentation Skills (With Examples)

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Presentation skills are important to your professional and personal life. Effective presentation skills can help you get ahead in your career. With the proper presentation skills, you’ll open up new doors for professional growth and be a more confident individual overall.

Whether you want to know the different types of presentation skills or improve your presentation skills, we’ll cover what presentation skills are, how to improve your ability to present, and showcase your new skills.

Key Takeaways:

Presentation skills are important in the workplace because they can be used for meetings, interviews, and conferences.

Some presentation skills examples include research, organization, and adaptability

Practice as much as possible before a presentation so that it becomes muscle memory, however, to engage the audience, be flexible with your presentation’s performance.

Good presentations are informative, engaging, and precise.

Most Important Presentation Skills (With Examples)

Different types of presentation skills

How to improve your presentation skills, examples of using presentation skills, presentation skills faq, final thoughts.

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Being a skilled presenter requires a constellation of hard and soft skills . Some different types of presentation skills include research, planning, and organization.

Below are more common types of presentation skills. As you read through this list, think about where you’re naturally strong and where you could do with some improvement:

Research. The first step of any successful presentation is the research and preparation phase. First and foremost, you have to become an expert on the content you hope to deliver. It’s also essential to research your audience to know which information is most pertinent for them.

Planning. Once you’ve completed your research, it’s time to develop a plan. During this phase, you’ll prioritize which information gets put front-and-center, and which is less vital for your ultimate goal.

Before you start drafting your presentation, it’s crucial to keep your goal at the forefront: what do you want the audience to do after listening to your presentation?

Organization . Audiences prefer presentations that are well-thought-out and delivered in a logical order. Before you even step foot in the room, you should know what you need to do to set up, have all your notes in order, and be aware of your allotted time.

Verbal communication. No surprises here, verbal communication skills are downright essential for an effective presentation. Even if you have very rigid notes to follow, being quick on your feet to answer questions or alter your content for the audience’s benefit will serve you well during presentations.

Nonverbal communication . Good body language means standing up straight, not fidgeting too much, and maintaining eye contact with your audience members.

Public speaking . Some people get nervous just thinking about speaking publicly. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it is crucial to keep your nerves under wraps for delivering the most effective presentation possible. Audiences are less likely to trust presenters who don’t appear confident.

Memorization. We’ve all seen presentations where the presenter is just reading directly off his Powerpoint slides – we don’t need to tell you that those presentations are unequivocally bad. It’s fine to have notes as a reference, but the more time you can spend looking at your audience rather than the sheet in front of you, the better.

Writing. Being a good writer will help keep your presentation organized and give a boost to your credibility. Before you can commit your content to memory, you need to develop that content.

Story-telling. Not all presentations require story-telling, but it can be a very effective method of grabbing your listeners’ attention. It can be a hypothetical story that presents a question or problem, a real story that leads into your main argument, or a story that continues throughout to illustrate the duller facts your presentation covers.

Rhetorical skills . Rhetoric is all about persuasion: how are your words going to induce action from the listener(s)? Rhetorical appeals are classified under three headings: ethos, logos, and pathos.

Ethos establishes credibility in the speaker and trust in the listeners through confident delivery and expert testimony. Logos covers your presentation’s logical thrust through statistics, models, comparisons, analogies, etc. Pathos is your presentation’s emotional appeal, supported by vivid language and stories that promote certain values.

Active listening . Pay attention to which parts of your presentation are grabbing listeners and which are falling flat. If your audience’s eyes start glazing over or phones start coming out, you know you’re losing them.

Adaptability . Like the above point, being able to adapt on the fly sets top-tier presenters apart from merely good ones. For instance, if you can tell your presentation isn’t working, you can open up the floor and ask questions as a way of determining your audience’s priorities.

Delivery. We bet you’ve heard some of the same Dad jokes multiple times in your life. Sometimes they’re hilarious, and sometimes they induce an eye-roll. The difference? Delivery. Pace, timing, tone, and enunciation/inflection are all important elements of good delivery.

Technical skills . All right, you’re all set with the perfect presentation, you walk into the room, and the A/V setup isn’t what you were expecting. Well, if you followed our advice above, you showed up a bit early and had time to fix it.

Analysis . Phew, your presentation is done. Time to forget about presenting until the next one comes up, right? No siree – now is the time for you to take a step back and evaluate your performance.

To improve your presentation skills, you should watch and learn what works and doesn’t work from others and practice with an audience of friends. Here are more ways to improve your presentation skills:

Watch and learn. You’ve seen presentations before, but to prepare for your own, try watching presentations to learn what works and what doesn’t. If you’re presenting at a conference, attend other presentations and pay attention to how the audience responds. Your audience probably won’t be much different.

Practice. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes. Rehearse what you want to say, either on your own or with an audience of friends. You can even record yourself speaking and pinpoint weak areas and strengths . The more you perform your presentation, the more comfortable you’ll be delivering the real thing.

Visualize success. What speakers often forget is that audiences want you to do well. They’re there (more or less) of their own volition, and they want to hear what you have to say. Take that nervousness you’re feeling and transform it into excitement.

Exercise/drink water beforehand. The human body responds to stressful situations with a whole host of unwelcome physical side effects. If you stay hydrated and get some light exercise in beforehand, you’ll flush the adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) right out of your body.

Adopt a power stance and smile. Just as exercise and hydration help keep your body regulated, so does powerful body language . Standing straight with shoulders squared and a smile on your face, and your body will be tricked into thinking you’re in a confident and commanding position.

Engage your audience. The best presenters are also first-class entertainers. Don’t go overboard and start practicing your comedy routine, but lightening the mood with a joke or two can go a long way. Be sure to greet your audience enthusiastically.

Don’t get defensive if you’re stumped. There might be moments when an audience member asks a question, and you don’t have an answer . Don’t try to equivocate or dodge the question because people will see what you’re doing. It’s okay not to know everything, but pretending you do will only deteriorate your listeners’ faith in you.

Keep it concise. People won’t be upset if you wrap up earlier than expected, but they might be a little peeved if you start running over your allotted time. Cut irrelevant information, and your audience will thank you .

Take your time. All right, so we just suggested keeping things short, and now we’re telling you to take your time. What gives? Well, you should always include a bit of padding in your presentation. For example, if your presentation is meant to be a half-hour, try to get it down to 25 minutes, so you have some wiggle room.

Presentation skills cover a range of abilities that allow one to effectively engage their audience and get information across in a clear way. In today’s world, the persuasive power of presentations is more important than ever.

There are many different example scenarios in which you might give a presentation:

Delivering a presentation to colleagues, employees, or subordinates about new technology, processes, goals, etc.

Drumming up investor interest, either for a new business or for your current business’s expansion.

Teaching your team a new skill.

Deciding between two or more alternative options or solving a problem with a current system.

Progress reports.

Selling a product or service to a client.

Motivational speech

Interviewing for a new job or promotion

Saying goodbye to a colleague (or introducing a new one )

Giving a speech at a family function, like a wedding.

What are the four types of presentation?

The four types of presentation are: informative, instructional, arousing, and persuasive. Informative presentations briefly educate your audience on a specific topic. Instructional presentations teach your audience more thoroughly and generally come with more details and/or directions.

Arousing presentations are meant to evoke some kind of emotion in the audience. Persuasive presentations are designed to convince the audience of a particular viewpoint.

What are the four P’s of presentation?

The four P’s of presentation are planning, preparation, practice, and performance. As the four P’s imply, you need to plan and prepare your presentation, as well as practice. Finally, you need to be aware of your performance during your presentation to make sure you use your skills in an engaging manner.

What is the 10-20-30 rule of presentation?

The 10-20-30 rule is for a slide presentation and means you should use no more than 10 slides, present no longer than 20 minutes, and use no less than 30-point font. Considering these factors helps make a presentation efficient with its time. Remember you want to take your time and be direct with your information. Using the 10-20-30 rule helps you find a balance between these needs.

What is the most important part of using presentation skills?

An important part of using presentation skills would be speaking the language of the audience. Knowing your audience helps you get your point across. To help speak the language of the audience, you can use appropriate analogies and anecdotes and avoid any foreign words.

For example, if you are presenting a topic to a group of college freshmen about a topic you’re an expert in, try to use language that they would understand. Using language the audience will understand helps you get your point across better.

Whether you’re a natural showman or a super-shy introvert , keep the above tips in mind to improve your presentation skills. Because the chances are, you’ll have to give a presentation at some point in your life. With a little practice, you’ll have audiences clamoring for more.

Johns Hopkins Carey Business School – Presentation Skills

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Matthew Zane is the lead editor of Zippia's How To Get A Job Guides. He is a teacher, writer, and world-traveler that wants to help people at every stage of the career life cycle. He completed his masters in American Literature from Trinity College Dublin and BA in English from the University of Connecticut.

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Mastering Presentation Skills: A Comprehensive Guide

Presentation skills are an essential aspect of professional development and personal growth. Learn to convey your ideas clearly and compellingly.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the importance of effective presentation skills in professional and personal growth.
  • Learning how to utilize body language and visual aids to keep the audience engaged.
  • Strategies to overcome pre-presentation jitters and improve overall presentation performance.

Presentation skills are an essential aspect of professional development and personal growth. Whether you're addressing a small group or a large audience, the ability to convey your ideas clearly and compellingly can make a significant difference in your career. This comprehensive guide will delve into the most effective presentation skills, offering practical advice to help you improve your presentation skills and deliver successful presentations.

The Foundation of Good Presentation Skills

Good presentation skills are rooted in the ability to communicate effectively. This involves not only what you say but also how you say it. Your body language, voice modulation, and the clarity of your message all play a crucial role in delivering a good presentation. To master these skills, one must practice regularly and be open to feedback from other presenters and audience members.

Body Language: Your Silent Communicator

Your body language can speak volumes before you even utter a word. Appropriate gestures, facial expressions, and maintaining eye contact are crucial components of effective presentations. They help convey your message and keep the audience's attention. An experienced presenter knows that a positive enthusiasm and a confident stage presence can significantly impact the delivery of their presentation.

Visual Aids: Enhancing Your Message

Visual aids, such as Microsoft PowerPoint slides, charts, and videos, can greatly enhance your presentation by providing a visual context to your words. They should complement your speech, not overshadow it. Use bullet points to summarize information and high-quality images to illustrate points more vividly. Remember, the visual aids are there to support your presentation, not to be the main focus.

Overcoming Stage Fright

Stage fright, or pre-presentation jitters, is a common challenge for many presenters. Breathing techniques, such as taking deep breaths before stepping onto the presentation stage, can help calm your nerves. Arriving early to familiarize yourself with the environment and practicing your speech with note cards can also reduce anxiety. Remember, even TED Talk speakers feel nervous; what sets them apart is their ability to manage and channel that nervousness into a compelling presentation.

Engaging Your Audience

Keeping the audience engaged is one of the most important aspects of a successful presentation. This involves understanding the needs and interests of your target audience and tailoring your content accordingly. Use a personal story or a relatable example to make your points more relatable. Encourage questions and interactions to create a two-way dialogue and maintain audience interest throughout your talk.

The Role of Public Speaking in Presentation Skills

Public speaking is an integral part of presentation skills. It's about delivering your message with clarity and confidence. To improve your public speaking abilities, focus on articulating your ideas clearly and at a pace that is easy for the audience to follow. Practice your speech in front of a mirror or record yourself to evaluate your voice modulation and body language.

Leadership Skills and Presentation

Effective presentation skills are closely linked to leadership skills. A leader must be able to present their vision and ideas in a way that inspires and motivates their team. This requires a combination of self-confidence, clear communication, and the ability to connect with audience members on a personal level. By honing your presentation skills, you also enhance your leadership capabilities.

Pre-Presentation Preparation

Preparation is key to a killer presentation. This includes researching your topic thoroughly, organizing your ideas into a coherent structure, and rehearsing your delivery. Use note cards to remember key points, but avoid reading from them verbatim. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel when it's time to present.

Presentation Tools and Technology

Leveraging presentation tools and technology can take your presentation to the next level. Familiarize yourself with software like Microsoft PowerPoint or other presentation platforms to create visually appealing slides. However, ensure that technology enhances your presentation rather than becoming a distraction.

The Importance of Practice

Practice is essential to improve your presentation skills. Rehearse your presentation multiple times, ideally in the actual room where you will be presenting. Seek opportunities to present in front of others, such as a small group or even a mirror, to gain confidence and receive constructive feedback.

Crafting a Killer Presentation: The Art of Preparation

The significance of thorough research.

Before stepping onto the presentation stage, it's crucial to invest time in researching your topic. This not only ensures that you are well-versed in your subject matter but also boosts your self-confidence. A presenter who is confident in their knowledge can engage the audience more effectively. Harvard Business Review emphasizes the importance of understanding your target audience's needs and expectations. Tailoring your content to address these points makes your presentation more relevant and compelling. Remember, a well-researched presentation is a foundation upon which successful presentation skills are built.

Structuring Your Content for Maximum Impact

Once your research is complete, the next step is to structure your presentation in a way that flows logically and keeps the audience's attention. Start with an outline that includes an introduction, key points, and a conclusion. Use bullet points to distill complex ideas into digestible pieces of information. This structure helps you maintain focus while delivering your presentation and aids the audience in following your narrative. A clear structure is a hallmark of good presentation skills and is essential for a compelling presentation. Think of your outline as a roadmap that guides both you and your audience through the journey of your talk.

Enhancing Delivery Through Rehearsal Techniques

Enhancing delivery through rehearsal techniques is crucial for ensuring effective communication and presentation skills. By dedicating time to practice and refine delivery methods, individuals can significantly improve their ability to convey information clearly and confidently. Rehearsal allows speakers to familiarize themselves with the material, anticipate potential challenges, and adapt their delivery style to engage and captivate their audience effectively. Moreover, through repetition and feedback, speakers can fine-tune their delivery, refine their message, and enhance overall performance. Whether preparing for a presentation, speech, or any form of public communication, investing in rehearsal techniques is essential for achieving impactful delivery and maximizing audience engagement.

Mastering the Use of Presentation Tools and Technology

Presentation tools and technology are integral to delivering a successful presentation. With the advent of software like Microsoft PowerPoint, presenters can create visually appealing slides that support their message. The key is to use these tools to enhance, not overshadow, the content. For instance, incorporating bullet points for clarity, using high-quality images to illustrate points, and embedding videos for dynamic examples can make a presentation more engaging. However, it's crucial to ensure that the technology serves the presentation and not the other way around.

The vast majority of presentation tools offer features that can help maintain the audience's attention. Interactive elements such as polls, animations, and transitions can keep the audience engaged, but they must be used judiciously to avoid distraction. Experienced presenters recommend rehearsing with the technology beforehand to ensure smooth execution. Arriving early to test equipment and familiarize oneself with the setup can prevent technical glitches that might otherwise disrupt the flow of a presentation. Remember, the goal is to use technology to deliver a compelling presentation that resonates with the audience.

The Power of Body Language and Eye Contact in Presentations

Body language and eye contact are among the most effective presentation skills that can significantly influence the success of a presentation. Appropriate gestures, facial expressions, and posture convey confidence and enthusiasm, which can be contagious to the audience. A presenter who stands tall, makes eye contact, and uses hand gestures effectively can command the room and keep the audience engaged. It's not just about what you say, but how you say it; your body language speaks volumes about your self-confidence and belief in your message.

Moreover, maintaining eye contact with audience members is a powerful way to connect on a personal level, making your presentation more compelling. It signals to the audience that you are focused on them and interested in their reaction. However, it's important to strike a balance; too much eye contact can be intimidating, while too little can make you seem disengaged. Practice varying your eye contact throughout the room, making sure to include even those in the back or on the sides. This inclusive approach helps ensure that all audience members feel acknowledged and valued during your presentation.

Integrating Effective Visuals in Presentations

Visual aids are not just supplementary elements; they are integral to delivering a successful presentation. When used appropriately, they can transform a good presentation into a compelling one, capturing the audience's attention and reinforcing your message. The most effective presentation skills involve the strategic use of visuals to clarify complex information and illustrate points vividly. Whether it's a simple pie chart or an intricate infographic, each visual should be designed with the target audience in mind, ensuring that it adds value rather than distracts.

Incorporating visuals into your own presentation requires a balance between content and aesthetics. Slides should not be overcrowded with bullet points; instead, they should support the speaker's words with impactful imagery or key takeaways. Remember, the vast majority of audience members are more likely to remember information that is visually stimulating. Tools like Microsoft PowerPoint or other presentation tools offer a range of options to create these visuals. By practicing the integration of visuals in your rehearsals, you can ensure that they complement your delivery rather than compete for attention.

Overcoming Pre-Presentation Jitters

Pre-presentation jitters are a common experience, even for the most seasoned presenters. Good presentation skills involve recognizing these feelings and implementing strategies to manage them effectively. One of the most important things to do is to arrive early, allowing yourself time to become familiar with the presentation space. This can help reduce anxiety and provide an opportunity to troubleshoot any issues with presentation tools or visual aids. Taking deep breaths and engaging in light stretching or breathing techniques can also help calm nerves before taking the stage.

Another key strategy is to focus on the message you want to convey rather than on your own nervousness. By shifting the focus to the value you are providing to your audience, self-confidence naturally increases. It's also a great idea to have a personal story or anecdote ready to share; this not only makes the presentation more relatable but also serves as a comfortable starting point for many speakers. Remember, the goal is not to eliminate nerves entirely but to harness that energy into positive enthusiasm that enhances your stage presence and keeps the audience engaged.

The Role of Practice in Polishing Your Performance

Practice is, without a doubt, the most important thing you can do to improve your presentation skills. Repeatedly rehearsing your speech allows you to refine your delivery, work on your timing, and ensure you are comfortable with the material. It's a great idea to practice in front of a small group or even alone, using a mirror to observe your body language and facial expressions. TED Talks and other presentations by experienced presenters can serve as excellent examples to emulate. By the time the big meeting or event arrives, you should feel as though you know your presentation inside and out.

Utilizing Feedback to Hone Your Skills

In addition to self-rehearsal, seeking feedback from others can be invaluable. Whether it's from colleagues, friends, or a speaking coach, constructive criticism can provide insights into areas of your presentation that may need more detail or a different approach. Use this feedback to adjust your content, delivery, and even your visual aids. Remember, the goal is not to memorize your presentation word for word but to be so familiar with the material that you can speak about it conversationally. This level of preparation helps to reduce pre-presentation jitters and sets the stage for a successful presentation.

Handling Questions and Feedback

Be prepared to handle questions and feedback during and after your presentation. Listen carefully to the questions, provide thoughtful answers, and use the feedback to improve future presentations. Remember, questions are a sign that the audience is engaged and interested in your topic.

The Power of Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful tool in presentations. A well-told story can captivate the audience, make complex ideas more understandable, and create a memorable experience. Incorporate stories that are relevant to your message and resonate with your audience.

Maintaining Audience's Attention

To maintain the audience's attention, vary the tone of your voice, use hand gestures to emphasize points, and move around the stage to engage different parts of the audience. Make eye contact with various audience members to create a connection and keep them involved in your presentation.

The Role of Confidence

Confidence is the cornerstone of a compelling presentation. It reassures the audience that you are knowledgeable and passionate about your topic. Build your confidence by mastering the subject matter and practicing your delivery until it feels natural.

Incorporating Humor

Humor, when used appropriately, can be an effective way to connect with your audience and make your presentation more enjoyable. Be mindful of your audience and the context of your presentation when incorporating humor to ensure it is well-received.

Using Personal Experiences

Sharing personal experiences can make your presentation more relatable and authentic. It allows the audience to see the real-life application of your ideas and can help illustrate your points in a way that facts and figures alone cannot.

The Art of Persuasion

A successful presentation often involves persuading the audience to accept a new idea or take action. Use logical arguments, credible evidence, and emotional appeals to persuade your audience effectively. Be clear about what you want them to think, feel, or do after your presentation.

Adapting to Different Audiences

Every audience is different, and adapting your presentation to fit the specific audience you are addressing is crucial. Consider the audience's background, knowledge level, and expectations when preparing your presentation. This will help you connect with them more effectively.

The Use of Non-Verbal Cues

Non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, and posture, can reinforce your message or contradict it. Be aware of your non-verbal communication and ensure it aligns with what you are saying. This consistency will enhance your credibility and the impact of your presentation.

Continuous Improvement

The journey to improve presentation skills is ongoing. Seek out opportunities for public speaking, ask for feedback, and reflect on your performances to identify areas for improvement. Continuous learning and adaptation are key to becoming a master presenter.

Effective presentation skills are vital for professional success and personal development. This guide has explored various aspects of presentation skills, from body language and visual aids to overcoming stage fright and engaging the audience. By incorporating these strategies and continuously practicing, you can improve your presentation skills and deliver compelling presentations that captivate your audience.

FAQ Section

How can I overcome my fear of public speaking?

Overcoming the fear of public speaking involves preparation, practice, and employing techniques such as deep breathing and positive visualization. It's also helpful to start with smaller, more familiar audiences and gradually work your way up to larger groups.

What are some effective ways to engage my audience during a presentation?

Engaging your audience can be achieved by asking questions, encouraging participation, using storytelling, incorporating humor, and making eye contact. Tailoring your content to the audience's interests and involving them in the presentation can also keep them engaged.

How important are visual aids in a presentation?

Visual aids are very important as they can help illustrate and reinforce your points. They should be used to complement your message, not replace it. Ensure that your visual aids are clear, professional, and relevant to the content of your presentation.

Related Topics

  • Public Speaking
  • Storytelling in Business
  • Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Audience Analysis

Recommended Reading

Click on the link to purchase the book.

  • Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds by Carmine Gallo
  • Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds
  • The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo
  • Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte
  • Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte

Teach This Topic

  • Practice Sessions: Organize regular practice sessions where team members can present on various topics and receive constructive feedback.
  • Workshops on Nonverbal Communication: Conduct workshops focusing on the importance of body language, eye contact, and voice modulation in effective presentations.
  • Storytelling Exercises: Implement storytelling exercises to enhance the ability to convey messages in a more engaging and relatable manner.
  • Tech-Savvy Presentations: Provide training on the latest presentation tools and software to create visually appealing and interactive presentations.
  • Public Speaking Clubs: Encourage participation in public speaking clubs or groups to build confidence and improve presentation skills in a supportive environment.

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Blog Beginner Guides 9 Tips for Improving Your Presentation Skills For Your Next Meeting

9 Tips for Improving Your Presentation Skills For Your Next Meeting

Written by: Hannah Tow Feb 03, 2020

Improve Presentation Skills Blog Header

Presenting to an audience is one thing, but presenting ideas in a persuasive manner to the key stakeholders of your business is a whole other ball game.

The fact of the matter is that successfully presenting to a room full of people is a skill that’s mastered by very few. It takes practice, practice, and even more practice to start feeling comfortable with everyone’s eyes focused on you so you can effectively get your point across. 

The reality of presenting is that you can’t escape it. Especially as you start to move up in your career. If you’re yearning to improve, this article will walk you through the top nine tips to use to enhance your presentation skills for your next big meeting as well as throughout your life. Let’s get started.

Improve Presentation Skills List Infographic Venngage

9 top tips for improving your presentation skills:

  • Practice speaking in front of others
  • Use less text and more visuals in your presentation
  • Leverage your personality
  • Welcome questions and comments during
  • Be passionate and engaging
  • Maintain eye contact with your audience
  • Obsess over your listeners
  • Focus on confident body language
  • Keep it as short as possible

Constantly practicing, refining and improving upon your presentation skills will not only make you a more confident individual, but you will find that you rise quicker to success in your career. However, having great presentation skills does not just affect your work-life. Great presentation skills are truly life skills that you should integrate into more areas than just the conference room.

1. Practice speaking in front of others 

Presentation Skills Tip 1

Practice always makes perfect. 

It doesn’t matter how well you know what you’re talking about, the moment you have to persuade, engage, or teach in front of an audience, you will probably stumble a bit. This is a natural reaction that affects pretty much everyone when all eyes are pointed in one direction and the anxiety sets in. 

It’s important to remember that the overwhelming feeling of stress you probably feel is the result of your unfamiliarity with the situation, not from your lack of preparedness. The more comfortable you are with taking the stage and having everyone’s attention on you, the less nervous you’ll get. 

The greater confidence you have in your presentation skills will allow you to focus on what actually matters–which is the material that you’re presenting. 

The best way to implement this practice is by starting off small. Prepare a presentation to give to your friends, family, or closest co-workers. This sounds easy, but you will learn that it’s not necessarily who is listening to you that causes nerves, but it’s the fact that all of the attention is on you. 

You’ll become more comfortable with the attention when you begin practicing in front of others more often, which will allow you to effectively present your ideas next time it’s your turn to speak in the conference room.

RELATED: Learn the top ten public speaking tips to better prepare you for your practice sessions. 

2. Use less text and more visuals in your presentation

Presentation Skills Tip 2

We’ve all been there before: sitting at the conference table trying our very best to stay interested and engaged with the presentation before us. The presentation lacks color, images, and all sense of creativity while containing an over-abundance of text and long-form paragraphs. 

These types of presentations are horrible for two reasons: 

The first reason being that the minute you have words on the screen, your audience will direct their attention away from you to begin reading and completely tune you out. 

The second reason is if your presentation skills are poor, not only will your presentation be dull to listen to, but it will be unbelievably boring to look at as well. You’ll quickly find out how easy it is to lose most of the room’s attention when you create a lackluster presentation. 

If you feel lost attempting to design your slides into an exciting work of art, try using creative presentation templates . PowerPoint templates make it simple to produce something beautiful, and they can also make you feel like an accomplished designer after seeing the outcome, such as this business presentation example . 

Business Pitch Deck Template

In addition to nicely designed slides, you should always try to use infographics and charts to help you better summarize the complex information you’re relaying to your audience. It will be much easier for your listeners to understand what you’re explaining when they have something to visualize it with. Plus, there are plenty of resources out there to help you craft these visuals.

Learn how to make an infographic in five easy steps or produce an impressive graph .

If you feel worried that your presentation doesn’t hold enough content, you must remember the main reason for visual aids: 

They are to enhance what you’re speaking about, not lead it! 

If you’ve done enough practicing, you should feel confident in your presentation skills to thoroughly explain your main ideas and you won’t need to rely on the screen anyhow.

TIP: If you’re looking for even more ways to engage your audience with your visuals, check out 120+ presentation ideas that are sure to wow and delight! 

3. Leverage your personality

Presentation Skills Tip 3

As cliche as it sounds, you should always be true to who you are, especially if when you’re presenting. 

It’s incredibly easy to tell if someone is faking it for the sake of their audience, so you should never pretend to act in a way that you don’t typically do. Not only will you feel unnatural and uncomfortable doing it, but you can also risk embarrassment when you try to tell a forced joke and no one laughs or your new-found trait of sarcasm doesn’t sit well with your boss. 

It should bring you comfort knowing that most everyone in your meeting knows who you are. Use this to your advantage and start the presentation by playing up your best personality traits. Use your humor if you’re known to crack jokes or throw in your typical mannerisms.

Funny Slide Template

These little additions will make your presentation feel much more relaxed for everyone involved. In addition to your own unique quirks, you should also bring a level of personability to your meeting.

Be empathetic, smile more, and look around the room.  Doing so will improve your presentation skills, make you more likable, and allow your audience to be more receptive to you. 

In many cases, you may be presenting virtually, rather than in person. You can still allow your personality to shine through and energize your virtual presentation. Lisa Schneider, Chief Growth Officer at Merriam-Webster, wrote for Venngage on how to adapt an in-person presentation into a virtual presentation . Check it out.

4. Welcome questions and comments during your presentation

Presentation Skills Tip 4

Be flexible throughout your presentation. Answer questions and respond to any comments your audience may have either through hand raising or an audience response tool . Don’t worry if it veers you off your script. Chances are if one person has a question or comment, the others in the room are thinking it too. 

Use this as an opportunity to prove how well you understand the material you’re presenting–your audience will take notice.

Also, take some time out at the start or your presentation to ask your audience some icebreaker questions and slowly transition into the more important stuff. 

Taking this minute to talk through anything that your audience is thinking of is a good thing because it means they are engaged with you and really paying attention to the words coming out of your mouth. Doing so will also relax the format of your presentation, allowing you to feel more confident and relaxed as well.

5. Be passionate and engaging 

Presentation Skills Tip 5

When creating your presentation, craft it in such a way that makes your audience curious and makes them have questions for you. A persuasive presentation is the best way to get the positive reactions you are looking for, so be as passionate as you can be about your subject matter to seal the deal. 

Remember that questions and comments during your presentation are a good thing, especially if you’re the one prompting them! 

The more excited you are to present your ideas and show off your expertise, the more excited and engaged your audience will be. Own your subject matter and know what you’re talking about, it’s one of the most important presentation skills to have.

6. Maintain eye contact with your audience

Presentation Skills Tip 6

This is a very obvious tip that will go a long way with your audience. 

When the people you’re speaking to feel like you’re taking notice of them, they are much more likely to take notice of you and pay better attention to everything that you’re saying. 

It’s important to remember that losing eye contact and looking everywhere but at the people that you’re presenting to is a common nervous behavior. Pay extra close attention to whether or not you’re guilty of that, and work to ensure you have your eyes on at least one person.

7. Obsess over your listeners 

Presentation Skills Tip 7

Be receptive to your listeners. You can’t forget that what you’re presenting is for the audience, and it has nothing to do about you! 

Focus on the value you can provide to the people in the room. The more serving you are to them, the greater chance you have at driving your point home and nailing your presentation. 

It’s also important not to forget about those listening to you remotely over video conferencing . Make sure they know you’re aware of them and engage them as well! 

8. Focus on confident body language 

Presentation Skills Tip 8

Smiling, hand gestures, eye contact, and a powerful stance all exude confidence. 

If you don’t have strong body language and are showing physical signs of nervousness (ie. tapping, bouncing, shaking, darting eyes, and more) your audience will have a hard time focusing on the material you’re presenting and hone in on the fact that you’re nervous and probably don’t know what you’re talking about as much as you say you do.

No matter how nervous you are, take a deep breath and pretend otherwise. You might actually start to believe it!

9. Keep it as short as possible

Presentation Skills Tip 9

Every single person’s time is valuable ( especially at work), so don’t waste precious meeting time. If you can say everything you need to in half of the time that is allotted, you should do so. 

Ensure that you’re only sharing the most important information. All of the extra fluff will bore your audience and you will lose their attention very quickly.

It’s a great idea to wrap up your presentation with key takeaways and action items. Doing so will ensure that no matter how quickly your meeting ended, your team understands their next steps. You can send out a quick, summarizing slide deck or an easy to read one-pager for their reference later. These visuals will make sure all of your bases are covered and that everyone is on the same page upon leaving the meeting.

A good presentation makes all the difference. Check out the top qualities of awesome presentations and learn all about how to make a good presentation to help you nail that captivating delivery.


Never stop refining your presentation skills 

Possessing great presentation skills doesn’t come naturally to most people–it’s something that’s learned and practiced over time. As with most things in life, you must continuously work on refining your skills to get better and better. 

Use these nine proven presentation tips that we covered in this article to improve your presentation skills and ace different presentation styles . By doing so, you will find that presenting at your key meetings becomes easier and easier and you’ll begin to nail it every single time.

More presentation guides:

How to Make a Persuasive Presentation

120+ Best Presentation Ideas, Design Tips & Examples

33 Presentation Templates and Design Tips to Hold Your Audience’s Attention

Presentation Design Guide: How to Summarize Information for Presentations

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Important Presentation Skills for Workplace Success

what are the most important presentation skills

  • What Are Presentation Skills?

Steps To Create a Presentation

Skills that help make an effective presentation, how to make your skills stand out.

xavierarnau / Getty Images

Whether you’re a high-level executive or an administrative assistant, developing your presentation skills is one key way to climb in an office-based job. Leaders make decisions based on information shared in presentation format, and hardly any business changes its mind without first seeing a persuasive presentation.

It is important for any office employee to know what steps go into creating an effective presentation and what presentation skills are most important to employers. Highlighting these skills will also help you stand out during your job search.

Key Takeaways

  • Presentation skills are what you need to know to be able to give an engaging, effective presentation.
  • The steps to creating a successful presentation are preparation, delivery, and follow-up.
  • Employers want to know you have the necessary skills to research, analyze, and create a presentation, plus the communication skills needed to deliver it and field questions afterward.
  • You can highlight your skills to employers through your resume, cover letter, and interview.

What Are Presentation Skills? 

Presentation skills refer to all the qualities you need to create and deliver a clear and effective presentation. While what you say during a presentation matters, employers also value the ability to create supporting materials, such as slides.

Your prospective employer may want you to deliver briefings and reports to colleagues, conduct training sessions, present information to clients, or perform any number of other tasks that involve speaking before an audience.

Giving engaging and easy-to-understand talks is a major component of the strong  oral communication skills  that are a  job requirement  for many positions. Not all presentations take place in a formal meeting. Many presentation skills are relevant to one-on-one consults or sales calls.

Any presentation has three phases: preparation, delivery, and follow-up. All presentation skills fit into one of these three phases.


Preparation involves research and building the presentation. Consider the audience you'll be presenting to and what most interests them. This may mean crafting the entire text (or at least writing notes) and creating any slides and other supporting audio/visual materials.

You will also have to make sure that the appropriate venue is available, properly set up beforehand, and ensure the projector (if you'll need one) works and connects with your laptop.

You'll also want to practice your presentation as many times as you need to to feel comfortable delivering it with ease and confidence within the time allotted for the presentation.

Skills related to preparation include conducting research related to your presentation topic, devising charts and graphs depicting your research findings, and learning about your audience to better tailor your presentation to their needs. You'll also need to create digital slides, using statistics, examples, and stories to illustrate your points and effectively to persuade the audience.

Preparing handouts or digital references is an added courtesy that will help the audience pay attention because they won't be preoccupied with note-taking.

Your delivery is the part of the presentation that the audience sees. A good delivery depends on careful preparation and confident presentation and requires its own distinctive  skill set . 

Skills related to delivery include giving an attention-grabbing opening for a talk, providing a summary of what will be covered to introduce the presentation and provide context, and using  body language  and eye contact to convey energy and confidence.

Make sure you pause to emphasize key points, modulate your vocal tone for emphasis, and articulate your speech clearly and smoothly.

Don't be afraid of injecting humor or speaking with enthusiasm and animation—these techniques can help you in projecting confidence to your audience.

Summarize key points at the conclusion of the presentation, and be sure to have a plan for how you'll field any audience questions.

Presentation follow-up includes properly breaking down and storing any equipment, contacting any audience members with whom you agreed to communicate further, and soliciting, collecting, and analyzing feedback.

In some presentations, you may collect information from audience members—such as names and contact information or completed surveys—that you also must organize and store.

Skills related to follow-up include creating an evaluation form to solicit feedback from attendees, interpreting feedback from evaluations, and modifying the content and/or delivery for future presentations. Other follow-up skills include organizing a database of attendees for future presentations, interviewing key attendees to gain additional feedback, and emailing presentation slides to attendees.

To create and deliver the most effective presentation takes a variety of skills, which you can always work to improve.

You must be able to look honestly at your performance, assess the feedback you get, and figure out what you need to do to get better. That takes  analytical thinking .

More importantly, you need to have a firm grasp of the information you are about to communicate to others. You need to analyze your audience and be prepared to think quickly if asked questions that force you to demonstrate that you are fully aware of the material and its implications.

The kind of analytical skills you need to be an effective presenter include problem sensitivity, problem-solving , reporting and surveying, optimization, and predictive modeling. It also helps to be adept at strategic planning, integration, process management, and diagnostics. With these skills, you'll be better able to objectively analyze, evaluate, and act on your findings.


You do not want to be the person who spends half of their presentation time trying to find a cable to connect their laptop to the projector. Many things can and do go wrong just before a presentation unless you are  organized .

Presentation preparation also means keeping track of notes, information, and start/stop times. You will want to proofread and fine-tune all the materials you plan to use for the presentation to catch any mistakes. Make sure you time yourself when you rehearse so you know how long it will take to deliver the presentation.

A presentation that's finished in half the time allotted is as problematic as one that's too long-winded.

Some key organizational skills to work on include event planning, auditing, benchmarking, prioritization, and recordkeeping. Make sure your scheduling is on point and pay close attention to detail. Quick thinking is an important skill to have for when things inevitably go wrong.

Nonverbal Communication

When speaking to an audience, the way you present yourself can be just as important as how you present your information. You want to appear confident and engaging. You can do this through good posture, the use of hand gestures, and making eye contact with the audience.

Practice your  nonverbal communication  by filming yourself doing a practice presentation and observing your body language carefully. Your physical bearing and poise should convey a degree of comfort and confidence in front of an audience, while active listening , respect, and emotional intelligence will help you in facilitating group discussions.

Presentation Software

Microsoft PowerPoint is the dominant software used to create visual aids for presentations. Learn to use it well, including the special features outside of basic templates that can really bring a presentation to life. Even if someone else is preparing your slideshow for you, it will help to know how to use the software in case of last-minute changes.

Other software that is good to learn includes Microsoft Office, Apple Keynote, Google Slides, and Adobe Presenter.

Public Speaking

You need to appear comfortable and engaging when speaking before a live audience, even if you're not. This can take years of practice, and sometimes  public speaking  just isn't for certain people. An uncomfortable presenter is a challenge for everyone. Fortunately, public speaking skills can improve with practice . Some skills to work on include articulation, engagement, and memorization. You should be able to assess the needs of the audience and handle difficult questions. Controlling your performance anxiety will help you communicate more effectively.

Research is the first step in preparing most presentations and could range from a multi-year process to spending 20 minutes online, depending on context and subject matter. At the very least, you must be able to clearly frame research questions, identify appropriate information sources, and organize your results. Other useful skills include brainstorming, collaboration , comparative analysis, data interpretation, and deductive and inductive reasoning. Business intelligence is a skill that will help you evaluate what information you need to support the bottom line, while case analysis and causal relationships will help you parse and evaluate meaning.

Verbal Communication

Public speaking is one form of  verbal communication , but you will need other forms to give a good presentation. Specifically, you must know how to answer questions. You should be able to understand questions asked by your audience (even if they're strange or poorly worded) and provide respectful, honest, and accurate answers without getting off-topic. Use active listening, focus, and empathy to understand your audience. Skills such as assertiveness, affirmation, and enunciation will help you restate and clarify your key points as it relates to their questions or concerns.

You may or may not need a written script, but you do need to pre-plan what you are going to say, in what order you will say it, and at what level of detail. If you can write a cohesive essay, you can plan a presentation.

Typical writing skills apply to your presentation just as they do to other forms of writing, including grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and proofreading. The ability to build outlines, take notes, and mark up documents will also be useful.

More Presentation Skills

In addition to the skills previously mentioned, there are other important skills that can apply to your presentation. The other skills you need will depend on what your presentation is about, your audience, and your intended results. Some of these additional skills include:

  • Summarizing
  • Providing anecdotes to illustrate a point
  • Designing handouts
  • Recognizing and countering objections
  • Posing probing questions to elicit more detail about specific issues
  • Awareness of ethnic, political, and religious diversity
  • Receiving criticism without defensiveness
  • Refraining from speaking too often or interrupting others
  • Anticipating the concerns of others
  • Product knowledge
  • SWOT analysis format
  • Supporting statements with evidence
  • Multilingual
  • Working with reviewers
  • Consistency
  • Developing and maintaining standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • Developing a proposition statement
  • Creating and managing expectations

Include skills on your resume. If applicable, you might mention these words in your  resume summary  or  headline .

Highlight skills in your cover letter. Mention one or two specific presentation skills and give examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits in the workplace.

Show your presentation skills in job interviews. During the interview process, you may be asked to give a sample presentation. In this case, you will want to embody these skills during the presentation. For example, you will want to demonstrate your oral communication skills by speaking clearly and concisely throughout the presentation.

PennState. " Steps in Preparing a Presentation ."

Harvard Division of Continuing Education. " 10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills ."

Northern Illinois University. " Delivering the Presentation ."

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The Importance of Presentation Skills: That You Must Know About

Uncover The Importance of Presentation Skills in this comprehensive blog. Begin with a brief introduction to the art of effective presentations and its wide-reaching significance. Delve into the vital role of presentation skills in both your personal and professional life, understanding how they can shape your success.


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Table of Contents  

1) A brief introduction to Presentation Skills 

2) Importance of Presentation Skills in personal life 

3) Importance of Presentation Skills in professional life 

4) Tips to improve your Presentation Skills 

5) Conclusion 

A brief introduction to Presentation Skills  

Presentation skills can be defined as the ability to deliver information confidently and persuasively to engage and influence the audience. Be it in personal or professional settings; mastering Presentation Skills empowers individuals to convey their ideas with clarity, build confidence, and leave a lasting impression. From public speaking to business pitches, honing these skills can lead to greater success in diverse spheres of life.  You can also refer to various presentation skills interview questions and answer to build you confidence! This blog will also look into the advantages and disadvantages of presentations .It is therefore important to understand the elements of presentations .

Importance of Presentation Skills in personal life  

Effective Presentation skills are not limited to professional settings alone; they play a significant role in personal life as well. Let us now dive deeper into the Importance of Presentation Skills in one’s personal life:    

Importance of Presentation Skills in personal life

Expressing ideas clearly   

In day-to-day conversations with family, friends, or acquaintances, having good Presentation skills enables you to articulate your thoughts and ideas clearly. Whether you're discussing plans for the weekend or sharing your opinions on a particular topic, being an effective communicator encourages better understanding and engagement. 

Enhancing social confidence  

Many individuals struggle with social anxiety or nervousness in social gatherings. Mastering Presentation skills helps boost self-confidence, making it easier to navigate social situations with ease. The ability to present yourself confidently and engage others in conversation enhances your social life and opens doors to new relationships. 

Creating memories on special occasions  

There are moments in life that call for public speaking, such as proposing a toast at a wedding, delivering a speech at a family gathering, or giving a Presentation during special events. Having polished Presentation skills enables you to leave a positive and lasting impression on the audience, making these occasions even more memorable. 

Handling challenging conversations  

Life often presents challenging situations that require delicate communication, such as expressing condolences or resolving conflicts. Strong Presentation skills help you convey your feelings and thoughts sensitively, encouraging effective and empathetic communication during difficult times. 

Building stronger relationships  

Being a skilled presenter means being a good listener as well. Active listening is a fundamental aspect of effective Presentations, and when applied in personal relationships, it strengthens bonds and builds trust. Empathising with others and showing genuine interest in their stories and opinions enhances the quality of your relationships. 

Advocating for personal goals  

Whether you're pursuing personal projects or seeking support for a cause you're passionate about, the ability to present your ideas persuasively helps garner support and enthusiasm from others. This can be beneficial in achieving personal goals and making a positive impact on your community. 

Inspiring and motivating others  

In one’s personal life, Presentation skills are not just about delivering formal speeches; they also involve inspiring and motivating others through your actions and words. Whether you're sharing your experiences, mentoring someone, or encouraging loved ones during tough times, your Presentation skills can be a source of inspiration for others. 

Exuding leadership traits  

Effective Presentation skills go hand in hand with leadership qualities. Being able to communicate clearly and influence others' perspectives positions you as a leader within your family, social circles, or community. Leadership in personal life involves guiding and supporting others towards positive outcomes. 

Unlock your full potential as a presenter with our Presentation Skills Training Course. Join now!  

Importance of Presentation Skills in professional life  

Effective Presentation skills are a vital asset for career growth and success in professional life. Let us now explore the importance of Presentation skills for students and workers:  

Importance of Presentation Skills in professional life

Impressing employers and clients  

During job interviews or business meetings, a well-delivered Presentation showcases your knowledge, confidence, and ability to communicate ideas effectively. It impresses employers, clients, and potential investors, leaving a positive and memorable impression that can tilt the scales in your favour. 

Advancing in your career  

In the corporate world, promotions and career advancements often involve presenting your achievements, ideas, and future plans to decision-makers. Strong Presentation skills demonstrate your leadership potential and readiness for higher responsibilities, opening doors to new opportunities. 

Effective team collaboration  

As a professional, you often need to present projects, strategies, or updates to your team or colleagues. A compelling Presentation facilitates better understanding and association among team members, leading to more productive and successful projects. 

Persuasive selling techniques  

For sales and marketing professionals, Presentation skills are instrumental in persuading potential customers to choose your products or services. An engaging sales pitch can sway buying decisions, leading to increased revenue and business growth. 

Creating impactful proposals  

In the corporate world, proposals are crucial for securing new partnerships or business deals. A well-structured and compelling Presentation can make your proposal stand out and increase the chances of successful negotiations. 

Gaining and retaining clients  

Whether you are a freelancer, consultant, or business owner, Presentation skills play a key role in winning and retaining clients. A captivating Presentation not only convinces clients of your capabilities but also builds trust and promotes long-term relationships. 

Enhancing public speaking engagements  

Professional life often involves speaking at conferences, seminars, or industry events. Being a confident and engaging speaker allows you to deliver your message effectively, position yourself as an expert, and expand your professional network. 

Influencing stakeholders and decision-makers  

As you climb the corporate ladder, you may find yourself presenting to senior management or board members. Effective Presentations are essential for gaining support for your ideas, projects, or initiatives from key stakeholders. 

Handling meetings and discussions  

In meetings, being able to present your thoughts clearly and concisely contributes to productive discussions and efficient decision-making. It ensures that your ideas are understood and considered by colleagues and superiors. 

Professional development  

Investing time in honing Presentation skills is a form of professional development. As you become a more effective presenter, you become a more valuable asset to your organisation and industry. 

Building a personal brand  

A strong personal brand is vital for professional success. Impressive Presentations contribute to building a positive reputation and positioning yourself as a thought leader or industry expert. 

Career transitions and interviews  

When seeking new opportunities or transitioning to a different industry, Presentation Skills are essential for communicating your transferable skills and showcasing your adaptability to potential employers. 

Take your Presentations to the next level with our Effective Presentation Skills & Techniques Course. Sign up today!  

Tips to improve your Presentation Skills  

Now that you know about the importance of presentation skills in personal and professional life, we will now provide you with tips to Improve Your Presentation Skills .

1) Know your audience: Understand the demographics and interests of your audience to tailor your Presentation accordingly. 

2) Practice regularly: Rehearse your speech multiple times to refine content and delivery. 

3) Seek feedback: Gather feedback from peers or mentors to identify areas for improvement. 

4) Manage nervousness: Use relaxation techniques to overcome nervousness before presenting. 

5) Engage with eye contact: Maintain eye contact with the audience to establish a connection. 

6) Use clear visuals: Utilise impactful visuals to complement your spoken words. 

7) Emphasise key points: Highlight important information to enhance audience retention. 

8) Employ body language: Use confident and purposeful gestures to convey your message. 

9) Handle Q&A confidently: Prepare for potential questions and answer them with clarity. 

10) Add personal stories: Include relevant anecdotes to make your Presentation more relatable.   

Presentation Skills Training

All in all, Presentation skills are a valuable asset, impacting both personal and professional realms of life. By mastering these skills, you can become a more effective communicator, a confident professional, and a persuasive influencer. Continuous improvement and adaptation to technological advancements will ensure you stay ahead in this competitive world. 

Want to master the art of impactful Presentations? Explore our Presentation Skills Courses and elevate your communication prowess!  

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Presentation Skills: 16 tips for effective presentations


A successful presentation requires good presentation skills and effective presentation techniques. Here we provide you with 15 presentation tips for effective presentations. Whether you are an experienced presenter, or just starting out, there should be ideas here to help you improve your presentation skills.

Presenting successfully: 16 tips to improve your presentation skills and give a killer presentation 

How do you give a good presentation this is how to succeed.

In order to be able to present successfully, not only the layout and the content of the presentation must be convincing. The decisive step is to convey the content of the presentation to the audience in the best possible way by presenting it correctly. The tips listed below should help you do this by improving your presentation skills. The most important thing to keep in mind is a healthy combination of the tips listed below. (The order of the tips does not give any information about their importance).

Not every tip will lead to a successful presentation. What is important in a presentation?

As mentioned earlier, you should try to implement a combination of the tips to give a successful presentation. It should be noted that not every one of these tips needs to fit in your own presentation. In addition, too many of these tips can make the presentation look overloaded and too "rehearsed". Therefore, think carefully in advance about what you want to pay particular attention to.

Here are 16 tips for killer presentations:

Tip 1: maintain eye contact while presenting and smile.

In order to give each of your listeners the feeling of being important and to make them feel personally addressed, it is particularly important to maintain eye contact with the audience during the presentation. Not only does this exude confidence, but it also helps your audience to connect with you and your subject. It also helps you feel less nervous.  Easier said than done right? Here's what can help:

Find someone in the audience who seems to be genuinely interested in the topic and is listening attentively (for example, your lecturer). Make eye contact with this person at the beginning of the presentation. Once you start feeling more calm and confident let your gaze drift over the audience to address the other listeners as well. Keep returning your gaze to the initial person to stay calm throughout the whole presentation.

Another alternative is to find a fixed point in the room (preferably on the wall behind the audience) which you fix at the beginning of the presentation. Similar to the first example, after you have achieved confidence, you can let your gaze wander over the audience and return to the previously selected fixed point again and again.

Don't look at the screen! Don't look at the floor! Don't just look at your index cards! Don't just look at the laptop!

Tip 2: Use of gestures and facial expressions

To emphasize the content of your presentation, it is advisable to use appropriate gestures and body language to get your message across. Avoid crossed arms, hands behind your back, or in your pockets during a presentation.  Always stand up straight, and try not to appear tense or stressed. You can do that by using your hands and arms to emphasize what you are saying and get your message across.  Your facial expressions should always be friendly and open. Smile and show that you enjoy the topic and you are confident in the information you are presenting.

Tip 3: Avoid distractions

Often you will not be able to avoid the use of aids. For example, you may need to use a laser pointer to show something on the screen, or you may need to use a pen to write something down on a flipchart. To avoid distractions for you and the audience, get into the habit of putting down tools you don't need! That way you will not be tempted to deal with them in the first place. You will also have your hands free for gestures.

Tip 4: Be prepared: Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect, right? If you prepare well before the presentation, you will feel more relaxed and confident while presenting and it will also improve your body language. 

Here are some ways to help you prepare for a presentation:

Rehearse in front of a crowd

Time yourself

Record yourself

Tip 5: Be confident

By appearing self-confident, you convey to the listener that you are confident in your topic and have prepared yourself sufficiently. Try to relax and not appear too stressed or nervous. Another tip for advanced speakers: Step out in front of the podium and walk around the room and get closer to the audience. This also exudes self-confidence and helps in attracting your audience's attention.

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Tip 6: Effective beginning/end

Good presentation skills can help you in captivating your audience straight away. In order to do that, you should start your presentation with a bang. Many studies show that if you can capture someone’s interest straight away, there’s a good chance they’ll listen to the rest of the presentation. Shock the audience, ask them to imagine something or think of a what-if situation, share a personal story, share a joke, u se a quote, or a video. You should also give an overview of the time and structure of your presentation. This outline should run through your presentation so that you can always assign the individual contents to an outline point. It is also helpful for your audience to have the outline displayed in a slimmed-down form during the whole presentation.

How you end the presentation is as important as how you start it. A weak ending will leave the audience uninspired. But a good ending will motivate them and help them walk away on a positive note. For example, include a call to action, end the presentation with a memorable quote, or a personal story, and don't forget to thank and acknowledge the audience. 

Tip 7: Speak freely

The headline speaks for itself. To make the presentation as lively and enjoyable as possible, you should avoid reading it off. Speak freely, slowly, and clearly. If you are not yet confident in what you are presenting, try using note cards. But keep in mind: No continuous text, but only short, concise bullet points! If you use note cards to support you, it is especially advisable at this point to memorize at least the beginning and end of your presentation, as eye contact is crucial at these points.

Tip 8: Avoid filler words

In order to make your presentation flow as smoothly and confidently as possible, you should avoid using filler words such as "um," "so," and so on. For your listeners, these words convey insecurity and inadequate preparation.

Tip 9: Bring along something to share

In addition to a handout, other small takeaways can also significantly improve your presentation. For example, if you are giving a presentation on gummy bears, why not offer some to your audience? If you are giving a presentation about your fishing hobby, why not show the audience your fishing equipment?

Tip 10: Use different types of media

A presentation can quickly become boring and monotonous. To avoid this, it is advisable to use different types of media. For example, combine videos and flipcharts, use the whiteboard, or show something practical on a model. This will increase the attention of your audience enormously and will help in keeping them engaged until the end.

Tip 11: Use effective pauses

When giving a presentation, you should keep in mind that you have already heard the content several times - your audience probably hasn't! Therefore, give your audience enough time to read and understand the content of your slides.

Effective use of speech pauses is a master technique. It is one of the most versatile tools in a presenter's toolbox. Yet very few people perform it well. A pause, if used correctly, can add a great deal to your presentation or speech. Pause before, during, or after saying something that you would like to emphasize. Pausing between two different parts of your presentation can indicate to the audience that something new is coming. A quick pause could also help you in remembering your next point, without the audience noticing that you forgot what to say.

Tip 12: Speak the language of the audience

When creating your presentation, you should already think about your target audience. This will help you present successfully later on. It is especially important that you speak the language of the audience. Use appropriate and relevant examples. Use "strong" and meaningful words in short sentences to avoid losing the audience. Make sure to use appropriate analogies and anecdotes and avoid foreign words, empty phrases, and clichés. If you have to use foreign words, explain them in a handout or footnote within the presentation.

Tip 13: Engage with the audience

Always try to keep the attention of your audience and keep them engaged during a presentation. To do this, it is advisable to regularly involve the audience. One way to do this is to ask questions. Deliberately ask "easy" questions so that can easily be answered by your audience. Another way to involve the audience in your presentation is by interacting with them. To make a point clearer, you can use an example to explain it in more detail, using a person (whose name you should know). You can address participants directly and refer to their work.

Tip 14: Don't fight the stage fright & take deep breaths

Stage fright is one of the biggest enemies of a presentation, yet you shouldn't let yourself be a victim of your feat. Do not fight it, rather address your fear and try and accept it, and transform it into positive enthusiasm. Don't let your stage fright get you all worked up and nervous. Take a couple of deep breaths to get oxygen to your brain and relax your body.

Tip 15: Choose the right angle on standing during a presentation

One of the most frequent questions that speakers ask themselves during a presentation is, how do I best position myself, and where do I stand in front of the audience?

You have a free stage without a podium

In many cases, you will be facing your audience in a "free space", without a podium. This gives you a lot of room to move, but at the same time, it creates uncertainty because you don't know how to position yourself properly or how to move. Avoid standing frontally in front of the audience! This frontal facing is unconsciously perceived negatively by the audience. It is perceived by the audience as a kind of frontal attack and causes stress in your audience. Make sure to stand slightly to the side of the audience. If you notice during the presentation that you are again standing frontally in front of your audience, simply move your right or left foot 20 cm forward.

You have a podium at your disposal

A podium makes it easier to decide how to position yourself and where to stand in front of the audience. In order not to make your presentation too monotonous, it is advisable to leave the "safe position" behind the lectern from time to time, e.g. to walk to the other side of the screen or to show something on the flipchart. This brings movement into your presentation and helps keep the connection with your audience.

Tip 16: Create something with the whiteboard during the lecture

PowerPoint is no longer the tool of choice for a successful presentation. Photo collages, company logos on every slide and flashing text boxes often distract from the essentials. A presentation convinces the audience especially when they witness how something is being created. In addition to the classic flipchart, the whiteboard is recommended for this purpose. This is because diagrams, keywords and the results of a brainstorming session are written in real time on a whiteboard. Board markers allow a wide range of colors and the magnetic property of pinning additional information. The result of the presentation produced in this way is remembered longer than ready-made slides.

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Preparing for a Presentation

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Preparation is the single most important part of making a successful presentation. It is an absolutely crucial foundation, and you should dedicate as much time to it as possible, avoiding short-cuts. Good preparation will ensure that you have thought carefully about the messages that you want (or need) to communicate in your presentation and it will also help boost your confidence.

There are a number of aspects that you need to consider when preparing a presentation. They include the aim of the presentation, the subject matter, the audience, the venue or place, the time of day, and the length of the talk. All these will affect what you say and how you say it, as well as the visual aids that you use to get your point across.

The Objective

Whenever you are asked to give a presentation or speak to a group of people, you need to start by asking the purpose of the presentation.

In other words, what is the presentation expected to achieve, and what outcome(s) do the organisers and the audience expect?

These outcomes will shape your presentation, because it must be designed to achieve the objective and deliver the desired outcomes.

For example, you might be asked to give a talk to a gardening club. You might be told that the purpose of the talk is to fill a regular meeting slot, and that the members of the club have expressed a desire to learn more about pruning. You therefore know that your talk needs to be entertaining, fairly light, but knowledgeable, and that your audience wants to learn something new.

As you prepare your presentation, make sure you keep asking yourself:

“How is saying this going to help to achieve the objective and outcomes?”

The Subject

The subject of your presentation or talk about comes from the objective. They are linked, but they are not necessarily exactly the same thing.

For example:

The subject may be given to you by the organisation that has invited you (such as talking about pruning to the gardening club).

You may be knowledgeable in a particular field (perhaps you have an interest in local history).

The subject may be entirely your choice within certain limitations (you might, for example, be asked to give a presentation at an interview on a project which you feel has particularly developed your skills).

The Audience

Before preparing material for a presentation, it is worth considering your prospective audience.

Tailoring your talk to the audience is important and the following points should be considered:

The size of the group or audience expected.

The age range - a talk aimed at retired people will be quite different from one aimed at teenagers.

Gender - will the audience be predominantly male or female?

Is it a captive audience or will they be there out of interest?

Will you be speaking in their work or leisure time?

Do they know something about your subject already or will it be totally new to them?  Is the subject part of their work?

Are you there to inform, teach, stimulate, or provoke?

Can you use humour and, if so, what would be considered appropriate? If you are in any doubt about this, it is probably best to avoid anything even remotely risqué.

It is important to have as much advance information as possible about the place where you are going to speak.

It can be helpful to arrange to see the venue before the event. It does much to quell fear if you can visualise the place while you are preparing your talk. However, even if you cannot visit, you will probably find it helpful to know:

The size of the room;

The seating arrangements (for example, theatre-style, with rows of seats; or round-table);

The availability of equipment, e.g., microphone, laptop and projector, flip chart;

The availability of power points and if an extension lead is required for any equipment you intend to use;

If the room has curtains or blinds. This is relevant if you intend to use visual aids, and so that you can ensure the correct ambiance for your presentation;

The position of the light switches.  Check if you need someone to help if you are using audio/visual equipment and need to turn off the lights;

The likelihood of outside distractions, e.g., noise from another room; and

The availability of parking facilities so you do not have a long walk carrying any equipment you might need to take.

If this information is not available ahead of time, it will help to get there a bit early, to give you time to set up.

There will often be no flexibility in the time of day that a presentation is made. However, it does affect what you can do, and how you might organise your presentation, because of the likely state of your audience (see box).

How time of day can affect your audience

The morning is the best time to speak because people are generally at their most alert. However, as it gets towards lunch time, people begin to feel hungry and lose concentration. This is particularly true if the event has not included a coffee break.

After lunch, people often feel sleepy and lethargic. If you are given a slot immediately after lunch, it is a good idea to get your audience involved. A discussion or getting your audience moving about will work a lot better than simply presenting a lot of slides. A flip chart may also be a more useful tool than a laptop and projector, especially if it means you can open blinds and use natural light.

Towards the end of the afternoon, people again tend to lose concentration as they start to worry about getting home, the traffic or collecting children from school.

Evening or Weekend:

Outside regular office hours, people are more likely to be present because they want to be rather than because they have to be there.  There is a better chance of audience attention in the evening. However, if the presentation goes on for too long, people may have to leave before you have finished. People will also be less tolerant of a poor presentation because you are in their time, not their employer’s.

Length of Talk

Always find out how long you have to talk and check if this includes or excludes time for questions.

Find out if there are other speakers and, if so, where you are placed in the running order.  Never elect to go last.  Beware of over-running, as this could be disastrous if there are other speakers following you.

It is important to remember that people find it difficult to maintain concentration for long periods of time. This is a good reason for making a presentation succinct, well-structured and interesting. Aim for 45 minutes as a maximum single-session presentation, and preferably leave at least 10 or 15 minutes for questions. Nobody minds finishing a session early.

Providing Information in Advance

Always check what information you will need to provide in advance.

Organisers of big events and conferences often like to have all the PowerPoint presentations several days ahead of the event. This gives them time to load all the presentations, and make sure that they are properly branded for the event.

Some events also need speakers’ biographies ahead of time, to put in conference literature. When you are asked to give the presentation, make sure you ask what is needed by when—and then supply it.

You will not be popular if you turn up on the day and announce that you have completely rewritten your presentation on the train. It is entirely possible that the organisers may even not be able to accommodate that, for example if the audio-visual is being supplied by a separate company or by the venue.

And finally…

Being asked to give a presentation is an honour, not a chore.

You are representing your organisation or yourself, if you are self-employed. You are also not there by right, but by invitation. It is therefore important that you put in the time and effort to ensure that you deliver what your audience wants. That way, you may just be invited back another time.

Continue to: Organising the Presentation Material

See also: Can Presentation Science Improve Your Presentation? Preparing for Oral Presentations Managing the Presentation Event Coping with Presentation Nerves


7 Presentation Skills to Wow Your Audience

7 Presentation Skills to Wow Your Audience

We’ve all been there, sitting in a presentation or speech, struggling to keep our eyes open as the presenter drones on. Maybe the content is interesting, but the delivery is lacklustre. Or maybe the delivery is fantastic, but the content is disorganised or hard to follow. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that effective presentation skills are critical to captivating and inspiring your audience.

So, whether you’re a seasoned speaker or a novice presenter, it’s always a good idea to brush up on your skills. That’s why in this blog post, we’ll be covering seven effective presentation skills that are sure to wow your audience. From knowing your audience to engaging with them, these skills will help you deliver powerful presentations that leave a lasting impact.

So, let’s dive in and explore these seven effective presentation skills that will take your speaking abilities to the next level. And to help you hone these skills, we’d like to introduce you to our specialised effective presentation skills training  programs.

Skill 1: Knowing Your Audience

One of the most effective presentation skills is knowing your audience. Understanding your audience helps you tailor your presentation to their needs, interests, and expectations.

Knowing your audience allows you to focus on the topics that are most relevant to them and speak in a language they can understand. Failure to know your audience can lead to a disengaged and uninterested audience, which can ultimately derail your presentation.

Tips for Identifying and Understanding Your Audience

When it comes to delivering a presentation, understanding your audience is essential. Identifying their needs, interests, and expectations can help you tailor your presentation to keep them engaged and interested throughout. Here are some tips to help you better identify and understand your audience:

1. Research your audience

Before your presentation, research your audience to understand their demographics, interests, and expectations. This can be done through social media, surveys, or by asking the event organisers for details about the attendees.

2. Ask questions

During your presentation, ask questions that engage the audience and help you understand their needs and interests. This can help you tailor your presentation to meet their expectations.

3. Analyse non-verbal cues

Pay attention to non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language. This can help you gauge the audience's level of engagement and adjust your presentation accordingly.

4. Consider the occasion

The type of event can affect the expectations of your audience. If you're presenting at a formal event, your audience may expect a more polished and structured presentation. On the other hand, if you're presenting at a more casual event, your audience may appreciate a more relaxed and conversational tone.

5. Use social media

Social media can be a great tool for understanding your audience. Look for groups or hashtags related to your topic to see what people are saying about it. You can also use social media to ask questions and get feedback from your audience.

Skill 2: Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful tool that can make your presentation stand out from the rest. It can help you engage your audience emotionally and make your message more memorable.

A well-crafted story can take your audience on a journey, creating a connection between you and them. In a world where attention spans are short, storytelling can be an effective way to hold the attention of your audience and keep them engaged.

Tips for crafting a compelling story for your presentation

Crafting a compelling story for your presentation takes some effort, but the result can be powerful. Here are some tips to help you create a story that resonates with your audience:

1. Start with a clear message

Before you begin crafting your story, identify the key message you want to convey. This will help you structure your story around the central idea and ensure that it aligns with your overall goal.

2. Use a simple structure

A simple structure can help you keep your story focused and easy to follow. Consider using a traditional story arc, which includes an introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

3. Create relatable characters

Characters are an important part of any story. Create characters that your audience can relate to, and make them feel human and believable. This will help your audience connect with your story on an emotional level.

4. Use sensory language

Sensory language can help bring your story to life. Use descriptive words to paint a picture in the minds of your audience. This can help them better understand and remember your story.

5. Incorporate humour

Humour can be an effective way to engage your audience and create a memorable presentation. However, be sure to use humour that is appropriate, relevant and not sexist, ageist or ableist. 

Skill 3: Visual Aids

Visual aids can be a powerful tool to enhance your presentation and improve its effectiveness. They can help you convey complex information in an easy-to-understand way and make your presentation more engaging and memorable. 

The human brain processes visual information much faster than text, so incorporating visual aids in your presentation can help your audience understand your message more quickly and effectively.

Tips for creating effective visual aids

Now that we've covered the importance of visual aids, here are some tips for effective presentation skills :

1. Keep it simple

Visual aids should be simple and easy to understand. Avoid cluttered or complicated images, and use clear and concise language. Your audience should be able to quickly and easily understand the information you are presenting.

2. Use high-quality images

Low-quality images can be distracting and detract from your message. Use high-quality images that are relevant to your message and enhance the overall tone of your presentation.

3. Avoid too much text

Visual aids should be used to support your message, not replace them. Avoid using too much text on your slides or graphs, and instead, use bullet points or brief phrases to convey your message.

4. Use colour strategically

Colour can be a powerful tool to help emphasise important information, but it should be used strategically. Avoid using too many colours or bright colours that can be distracting.

5. Incorporate multimedia

Videos and audio can be effective tools to help engage your audience and make your presentation more interactive. Just be sure to use multimedia that is relevant to your message and supports the overall tone of your presentation.

Skill 4: Body Language

Body language is a critical aspect of effective communication skills for presentation , especially in a presentation setting. The way you use your body can have a significant impact on how your message is received by your audience. 

Your body language can convey confidence, interest, enthusiasm, and many other emotions and attitudes that can affect how your audience perceives you and your message.

Tips for using effective body language

Here are some tips for effective presentation skills :

1. Stand up straight

Good posture is key to projecting confidence and authority. Stand up straight with your shoulders back and your feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Make eye contact

Eye contact is a powerful way to connect with your audience and build trust. Try to make eye contact with different members of your audience throughout your presentation.

3. Use hand gestures

Appropriate hand gestures can help emphasise your message and make your presentation more engaging. However, be careful not to overdo it or use gestures that are distracting or inappropriate.

4. Avoid fidgeting

Fidgeting can be distracting and convey nervousness or anxiety. Try to stand still and avoid pacing, tapping your feet, or playing with objects.

5. Use facial expressions

Your facial expressions can convey a wide range of emotions and attitudes, from enthusiasm and interest to boredom and disengagement. Use appropriate facial expressions to match the tone of your message.

Skill 5: Voice and Tone

The way you use your voice can have a significant impact on how your presentation is perceived by your audience. 

Your voice and tone can convey a range of emotions and attitudes, such as confidence, authority, enthusiasm, and interest. Your tone can also indicate the level of importance or urgency of your message.

Tips for using effective voice and tone

Now that we understand the impact that voice and tone can have on a presentation, let's explore some tips for effective presentation skills:

1. Practice speaking with intention

Before your presentation, take some time to practice your speaking with intention. Think about the key messages you want to convey and how you want your audience to feel while listening to your presentation. This will help you deliver your message with a clear and purposeful voice and tone.

2. Vary your pace

Varying your pace can help keep your audience engaged and interested in your presentation. Slow down during important or complex points, and speed up during lighter or more exciting parts. By varying your pace, you can also create a sense of urgency or importance in your message.

3. Use pitch to convey emotion

Varying the pitch of your voice can help convey different emotions and attitudes in your presentation. For example, a higher pitch can convey excitement, while a lower pitch can convey seriousness or importance.

4. Pay attention to your volume

Be sure to project your voice so that everyone in the room can hear you. However, be careful not to speak too loudly, which can be distracting or overwhelming for your audience.

5. Pause for emphasis

Pausing at strategic moments can help emphasise important points and give your audience time to process your message. Take a breath and pause before making an important point to give it more weight.

Skill 6: Engaging Your Audience

One of the most important aspects of giving a presentation is engaging your audience. Without audience engagement, your presentation can quickly become boring, forgettable, or even frustrating for your listeners. Engaging your audience is a crucial skill that can help you build rapport, gain trust, and effectively communicate your message through your communication skills for presentation .

Tips for engaging your audience throughout your presentation

Engaging your audience is a crucial skill that can help you build rapport, gain trust, and effectively communicate your message using your communication skills for presentation . In this section, we will explore some tips for effective presentation skills .

1. Use storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful tool that can help you capture your audience's attention and keep them engaged. Use personal stories, anecdotes, or case studies to illustrate your points and make your presentation more relatable.

Asking questions can help you create a dialogue with your audience and make them feel like they are part of the conversation. Use open-ended questions to encourage participation and discussion.

3. Use humour

Appropriate humour can help lighten the mood and create a sense of rapport with your audience. Use jokes, puns, or funny anecdotes to break up the monotony of your presentation and keep your audience engaged.

4. Use visual aids

Visual aids, such as graphs, charts, or videos, can help illustrate your points and make your presentation more dynamic. Use them strategically to support your message and keep your audience engaged.

5. Use audience participation

Incorporating interactive elements, such as polls, quizzes, or games, can help keep your audience engaged and create a sense of excitement or competition. Use them strategically to break up your presentation and keep your audience engaged.

Skill 7: Handling Questions and Feedback

Handling questions and feedback is a critical skill that can make or break a presentation. It provides an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, address any concerns, and show your audience that you value their input.

Tips for handling questions and feedback effectively

Handling questions and feedback can be daunting, but with some practice, it can become an opportunity to showcase your expertise and engage with your audience. Here are some tips on how to handle questions and feedback effectively:

1. Listen carefully

Listen carefully to the question or feedback, and take a moment to think about your response. This shows that you respect the person asking the question and value their input.

2. Repeat or rephrase the question

This ensures that you have understood the question correctly, and it also helps the audience hear the question clearly. Rephrasing the question can also help clarify any misunderstandings or confusion.

3. Be concise

Keep your answers concise and to the point. Avoid giving long-winded answers that might confuse or bore the audience.

4. Use real-life examples

Using examples or stories can help illustrate your points and make them more relatable to the audience. It can also help keep the audience engaged.

5. Be honest

If you don't know the answer to a question, it's okay to say so. You can offer to follow up with the person after the presentation or suggest resources where they can find more information.

Wrapping It Up

In conclusion, effective presentation skills are an essential part of being a successful communicator. Knowing your audience, storytelling, using visual aids, body language, voice, and tone, engaging your audience, and handling questions and feedback are all key skills that can help you deliver a powerful and impactful presentation.

By following the tips and strategies we've shared, you can improve your communication skills for presentation  and leave a lasting impression on your audience. And if you're looking to take your skills to the next level, some.Education provides presentation skills training that can help you develop and hone these skills.

Remember, a great presentation isn't just about the content - it's also about the delivery. By mastering these skills, you can engage your audience, build your credibility, and leave a lasting impression. So go out there and wow your audience!

Useful Resources :   10 importance of speech communication |  Communication skills presentation |  Grapevine communication

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10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills

Few are immune to the fear of public speaking. Marjorie North offers 10 tips for speakers to calm the nerves and deliverable memorable orations.

Marjorie North

Snakes? Fine. Flying? No problem. Public speaking? Yikes! Just thinking about public speaking — routinely described as one of the greatest (and most common) fears — can make your palms sweat. But there are many ways to tackle this anxiety and learn to deliver a memorable speech.

In part one of this series,  Mastering the Basics of Communication , I shared strategies to improve how you communicate. In part two, How to Communicate More Effectively in the Workplace , I examined how to apply these techniques as you interact with colleagues and supervisors in the workplace. For the third and final part of this series, I’m providing you with public speaking tips that will help reduce your anxiety, dispel myths, and improve your performance.

Here Are My 10 Tips for Public Speaking:

1. nervousness is normal. practice and prepare.

All people feel some physiological reactions like pounding hearts and trembling hands. Do not associate these feelings with the sense that you will perform poorly or make a fool of yourself. Some nerves are good. The adrenaline rush that makes you sweat also makes you more alert and ready to give your best performance.

The best way to overcome anxiety is to prepare, prepare, and prepare some more. Take the time to go over your notes several times. Once you have become comfortable with the material, practice — a lot. Videotape yourself, or get a friend to critique your performance.

Communication Strategies: Presenting with Impact

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2. Know Your Audience. Your Speech Is About Them, Not You.

Before you begin to craft your message, consider who the message is intended for. Learn as much about your listeners as you can. This will help you determine your choice of words, level of information, organization pattern, and motivational statement.

3. Organize Your Material in the Most Effective Manner to Attain Your Purpose.

Create the framework for your speech. Write down the topic, general purpose, specific purpose, central idea, and main points. Make sure to grab the audience’s attention in the first 30 seconds.

4. Watch for Feedback and Adapt to It.

Keep the focus on the audience. Gauge their reactions, adjust your message, and stay flexible. Delivering a canned speech will guarantee that you lose the attention of or confuse even the most devoted listeners.

5. Let Your Personality Come Through.

Be yourself, don’t become a talking head — in any type of communication. You will establish better credibility if your personality shines through, and your audience will trust what you have to say if they can see you as a real person.

6. Use Humor, Tell Stories, and Use Effective Language.

Inject a funny anecdote in your presentation, and you will certainly grab your audience’s attention. Audiences generally like a personal touch in a speech. A story can provide that.

7. Don’t Read Unless You Have to. Work from an Outline.

Reading from a script or slide fractures the interpersonal connection. By maintaining eye contact with the audience, you keep the focus on yourself and your message. A brief outline can serve to jog your memory and keep you on task.

8. Use Your Voice and Hands Effectively. Omit Nervous Gestures.

Nonverbal communication carries most of the message. Good delivery does not call attention to itself, but instead conveys the speaker’s ideas clearly and without distraction.

9. Grab Attention at the Beginning, and Close with a Dynamic End.

Do you enjoy hearing a speech start with “Today I’m going to talk to you about X”? Most people don’t. Instead, use a startling statistic, an interesting anecdote, or concise quotation. Conclude your speech with a summary and a strong statement that your audience is sure to remember.

10. Use Audiovisual Aids Wisely.

Too many can break the direct connection to the audience, so use them sparingly. They should enhance or clarify your content, or capture and maintain your audience’s attention.

Practice Does Not Make Perfect

Good communication is never perfect, and nobody expects you to be perfect. However, putting in the requisite time to prepare will help you deliver a better speech. You may not be able to shake your nerves entirely, but you can learn to minimize them.

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About the Author

North is a consultant for political candidates, physicians, and lawyers, and runs a private practice specializing in public speaking, and executive communication skills. Previously, she was the clinical director in the department of speech and language pathology and audiology at Northeastern University.

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How to Present to an Audience That Knows More Than You

  • Deborah Grayson Riegel

what are the most important presentation skills

Lean into being a facilitator — not an expert.

What happens when you have to give a presentation to an audience that might have some professionals who have more expertise on the topic than you do? While it can be intimidating, it can also be an opportunity to leverage their deep and diverse expertise in service of the group’s learning. And it’s an opportunity to exercise some intellectual humility, which includes having respect for other viewpoints, not being intellectually overconfident, separating your ego from your intellect, and being willing to revise your own viewpoint — especially in the face of new information. This article offers several tips for how you might approach a roomful of experts, including how to invite them into the discussion without allowing them to completely take over, as well as how to pivot on the proposed topic when necessary.

I was five years into my executive coaching practice when I was invited to lead a workshop on “Coaching Skills for Human Resource Leaders” at a global conference. As the room filled up with participants, I identified a few colleagues who had already been coaching professionally for more than a decade. I felt self-doubt start to kick in: Why were they even here? What did they come to learn? Why do they want to hear from me?

what are the most important presentation skills

  • Deborah Grayson Riegel is a professional speaker and facilitator, as well as a communication and presentation skills coach. She teaches leadership communication at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and has taught for Wharton Business School, Columbia Business School’s Women in Leadership Program, and Peking University’s International MBA Program. She is the author of Overcoming Overthinking: 36 Ways to Tame Anxiety for Work, School, and Life and the best-selling Go To Help: 31 Strategies to Offer, Ask for, and Accept Help .

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12 mistakes that can doom your presentation to failure.

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Sales. Believe it or not, most of us are in the sales business.

Courtroom attorneys, both prosecutors and defense lawyers, are in the sales business. Their product consists of arguments for or against the defendant.

University professors are in the sales business. Their products are knowledge and thinking skills.

Consultants and corporate trainers are in the sales business. Their products are competence and proficiency with everything from how to lead a team to how to operate a complicated machine.

Whatever your job is, you can be sure that it involves sales—persuading people to adopt fresh perspectives, embrace new methods, rally around a common cause.

In all of this, Terri L. Sjodin is worthy of attention. An expert in advancing the persuasive presentation skills of professionals, Sjodin is a New York Times bestselling author ( Small Message, Big Impact ), and a respected researcher. For her latest book ( Presentation Ready: Improve Your Sales Presentation Outcomes & Avoid the Twelve Most Common Mistakes ), she conducted a multi-year study drawing on the experiences and observations of more than 5,000 business and sales professionals. Her expertise has been featured by many media outlets including the Today Show, Bloomberg News, CNN, CNBC, and Fox Business, as well as many industry podcasts.

Quoting the philosopher Seneca as saying, “Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity,” Sjodin explains how that view applied to the research she conducted during the Covid pandemic.

“ We used the lockdown to our advantage and captured data that has revealed insights unique to presenting during that challenging time,” she says. “We learned more about how to navigate specific obstacles in virtual presentations.”

A lot of professionals were great at in-person customer interactions but had to adapt to virtual presentations via video platforms when the pandemic hit. What were the biggest challenges of that transition?

“Ultimately, virtual meetings can’t provide all the benefits of face-to-face meetings, but they are scalable and can save you and your prospects time and money,” Sjodin says. “Some people simply feel awkward and uncomfortable using this technology. A common confession is, ‘I’ve been presenting for years. Why is this so difficult?’ The reason it’s daunting is because we are merging the art of presenting, the science of selling, and the modern tools of technology. It’s a lot to juggle all at once.”

Sjodin says that for some people, learning to master this technology is a lot like learning to drive a stick-shift automobile after years of driving with an automatic transmission.

When people are preparing for important presentations, what questions should they be asking themselves to ensure that their message and delivery are effective?

Terri L. Sjodin

“The best game plan is to do your homework early in the process, while keeping the end goal in mind,” Sjodin says. “Preparation is the best way to avoid ‘winging it.’ That might seem obvious. The truth is that many people, for various reasons, simply fail to prepare or don’t have a strategy to prepare effectively.”

Consider a meeting you have on your calendar right now and ask yourself a few key questions. What is my intention for this meeting? What am I trying to accomplish? Who are the listeners? What’s the audience size?

In the information-persuasion balance, what seems to be the key to driving a presentation to a prospect’s decision or conversion?

Sjodin says being overly informative was one of the highest ranked mistakes self-identified in her research study. “Information in and of itself doesn’t drive conversion,” she says. “The key is to get clear on the goal of being persuasive. What do you want to have happen as a result of this meeting or presentation?”

By design, a persuasive presentation has a specific intention. The speaker wants the listeners to act based on what they’re hearing. Sjodin suggests asking yourself this question: “Did I build a compelling case for my message?” She says professionals in need of results are best served when they craft presentations that are both persuasive and informative. “This seems simple, but, trust me, nobody complains that a talk was overly persuasive. They complain about the data dump.”

A challenge many speakers face is how to establish their own credibility without distracting from the product service, or cause they are championing. Sjodin has some suggestions on how to address that challenge.

“When a presentation is filled with vague assertions and imprecise data, speakers lose credibility,” she says. “Credibility is essential. Without it, a prospect has little reason to buy into your proposal.”

Her research results showed that sales professionals who committed the mistake of providing inadequate support consistently failed to establish credibility with the listener through their personal experience or data quality.

“A potential customer will evaluate you and your information before deciding whether to believe you,” she says. “Personal credibility speaks to your experience, education, background, industry knowledge, and field work. If you are new to an industry, it’s tough to sell your experience. Your chances are better if you sell your work ethic and scrappy mindset instead of your ability to advise listeners on how to do something they have been doing for the past 20 years.”

In her research, Sjodin found that many sales professionals confessed that they “conclude but do not close.” Where’s the disconnect? What’s her advice to them?

“ The close is the specific call to action you want your listener to take after hearing your message,” she says. “A conclusion is a wrap-up of what you just said. Some people avoid closing altogether because they don’t want to risk hearing ‘no thanks, not interested.’ The fear of rejection makes closing feel uncomfortable, so they just skip it altogether.

Closing doesn’t need to be scary, she says. “All you are doing is inviting your listener to choose to move forward in some regard.

Delivering a persuasive presentation requires the ability to close. “Persuasive presenters are always prepared to ask for a next step, or commitment—it’s what they’re there to do,” she says. “If you have met with numerous prospects but haven’t completed many transactions, ask yourself, ‘Do I close, or do I conclude?’ One generates action; the other gives your prospect the option of doing nothing.”

What’s the role of storytelling in making a compelling sales presentation, and what’s the key to doing it well?

It’s Sjodin says it’s the presenter’s responsibility to build and deliver an interesting message. You might think your data is interesting, but that doesn’t mean the audience will. This is where storytelling plays a role.

“Boring presentations are unfortunately a common occurrence,” she says. “Multiple factors can contribute to a dull, tedious, and tiresome talk, including low presenter energy, an overall lack of creativity, and an absence of storytelling and other entertaining elements.”

Sjodin says the key to effective storytelling is to put yourself in the seat of a skeptical listener and ask whether your message is intriguing and thought-provoking. “If a small, persistent voice tells you that it’s boring, it probably is. Can you find a story that could bring this issue to life in a more dazzling way?”

Death-by-PowerPoint still seems to be a common mistake made by speakers and presenters. Sjodin offers advice on using visual aids effectively.

“Visual aids can significantly enhance a presentation when used effectively,” she says. “They are not designed to be a crutch to help get a person through their content. Remember, you are the star, and the visual aids are the bit players. They are there to enrich the message and say something visually that you can’t communicate in the same way verbally. Tragically, most presentations are dominated by text and bullet points and do not visually create a wow factor.”

Does making a sales presentation mistake matter?

“In today’s competitive market, everybody sells something, whether it’s a product, a service, a cause or even when selling themselves on a job interview or for a promotion,” Sjodin says. “One of the most surprising initial insights in the research study was that 92% of participants reported feeling that making a sales presentation mistake has or probably has impacted moving a transaction forward or achieving their goal. That is a big number! So does it matter? The research results say yes!”

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what are the most important presentation skills

10 Most In-Demand Soft Skills to Put on Your Resume

L ong gone are the days when listing hard skills was the best (and oftentimes only) way to get your foot in the door at a prestigious company. While technical knowledge and training will always be important, soft skills (or essentially personality traits) are becoming increasingly important to highlight on your resume. And it makes sense, as more companies prioritize work culture and, therefore, the personalities of those they’re hiring.

But which soft skills are the ones that standout the most on a resume? Using data from Indeed.com, CashNetUSA scoured job ads for 46 predetermined soft skills to find the ones that appeared the most on high-paid jobs that surpassed the 75th percentile of wages in America’s most populated cities as well as each state. These are the soft skills that came out on top.

10. Resilience

Percentage of highly paid jobs requiring the skill: 34.29%

Resilience is a soft skill that highlights your ability to handle stress and challenges that come up at work. 

A good example of how to add this to your resume could be, “Showed resilience when leading a team after budget cuts by still delivering work on time and within scope.”

* Data comes from a January 2024 report released by CashNetUSA .

9. Financial Management

Percentage of highly paid jobs requiring the skill: 38.24%

If you’ve ever been in charge of a budget of any size, you can say that you have financial management skills. 

For instance, something like “oversaw the financial management of the freelance budget” could work if you hired contractors for a specific project.

8. Innovation

Percentage of highly paid jobs requiring the skill: 39.24%

Sure, this one makes our eyes roll a bit, too, but in today’s fast-paced world, innovation is key. No one wants an employee that stays stagnant or, worse, digs their heels in at the slight mention of change. 

You know who’s not stagnant? Someone who “excelled at brainstorming and ideation in the innovation process for [fill in project name].” You get it.

7. Emotional Intelligence

Percentage of highly paid jobs requiring the skill: 43.11%

We’re actually pleasantly surprised with this one. After all, we didn’t think corporations necessarily had it in them to care about this.

Jokes aside, having emotional intelligence is something that makes a good team member and an even better manager. After all, it’s hard to resolve team conflicts without it. The more a company emphasizes a “harmonious work environment,” the more this soft skill will matter.

6. Mentoring

Percentage of highly paid jobs requiring the skill: 47.89%

Here’s another managerial skill that job ads like to use to weed out the haves from the have-nots when it comes to managers. Do you actually enjoy mentoring people or have you just fallen up the corporate ladder into a management position?

True leaders will make mentoring a priority and want to highlight it on their resume.

5. Critical Thinking

Percentage of highly paid jobs requiring the skill: 47.94%

“Critical thinking” or “problem solving” can be put in the same bucket as resilience. How did you handle a challenging situation at work? It’s even better if you have data to back up your claim.

Well, maybe you “demonstrated strong critical-thinking skills when analyzing financial reports and making forecasts for the following quarter.”

4. Presentation Skills

Percentage of highly paid jobs requiring the skill: 56%

Presentation skills are the nature of the beast when it comes to today's Corporate America. That's because lots of today’s high-paying jobs require working with cross-functional teams and being able to explain your work in easy, digestible terms.

Think someone on a data science team explaining their findings to a marketing team. Along with "presentation skills," you could also add the specific presentation tools or software you use for your presentations on your resume.

3. Persuasion

Percentage of highly paid jobs requiring the skill: 57.41%

Persuasion sounds rather seductive, but it's crucial when trying to get specific projects across the finish line.

It's also a term that's used a lot in marketing when talking about "persuasive marketing skills" required to communicate well with a customer audience.

2. Negotiation

Percentage of highly paid jobs requiring the skill: 58.26%

This skill goes back to business basics. Proper negotiation skills come in handy in any aspect of life, whether you're negotiating a $1 billion merger or whether or not your toddler can have dessert for breakfast.

That said, it's a skill that takes time to hone — which is why it's considered all the more valuable.

1. Strategic Thinking

Percentage of highly paid jobs requiring the skill: 64.77%

Strategic thinking is essentially a combination of innovation and critical thinking, but the best way to incorporate this keyword on your resume is by using the CAR (challenge, action, result) technique.

You could say something like, "Used strategic thinking skills by analyzing user engagement data and running an A/B test that resulted in increased engagement of 20 percent."

For more resume advice, check out "How to Make Your Resume Shine."

10 Most In-Demand Soft Skills to Put on Your Resume

To defend against disruption, build a thriving workforce

Nonstop disruption. We have all lived through it the past several years: a global pandemic, geopolitical and economic instability, and the rise of new technologies such as generative AI (gen AI). This increasing pace of change, coupled with the anxiety of prolonged uncertainty, has created a situation in which companies can’t afford to keep doing business as usual. Indeed, workers have sent a clear message that they are disengaged to varying degrees and often burned out . They continue to question where , how , and why  they work.

About the authors

This article is a collaborative effort by Jacqueline Brassey , Aaron De Smet , Emily Field , Taylor Lauricella, and Brooke Weddle , representing views from the McKinsey Health Institute and McKinsey’s People & Organizational Performance Practice.

Automation and analytics broadly—and gen AI specifically—may be extremely helpful tools for addressing productivity challenges , not to mention the energy transition and climate change. However, if it’s not managed properly, the very adoption of gen AI  as a new way of working could burn people out even more, accelerating the downward spiral.

Recent McKinsey research reveals that both technical and nontechnical heavy users of gen AI are increasingly likely to leave their jobs  because of burnout. Those who aren’t burned out, however, told us they have remained in their jobs because they have real flexibility that suits their personal needs and work preferences, they do meaningful work that gives them energy, and they have support at work for their health and well-being (including mental and emotional health). Organizations would be wise to take note of these worker preferences since the need for gen AI talent is expected to grow rapidly.

But leaders should also consider the big picture. If gen AI can now take care of rote tasks and even complement some complex knowledge work, the nature of work is poised to change for millions of people, not just tech workers. Employees across industries and roles can be freed up or redeployed to focus on work that involves judgment, innovation, creativity, and collaboration—work that is more human .

Because this higher-level cognitive work is harder to plan for and manage, it requires much more than the absence of burnout. 1 Ruma Bhargava and Jacqueline Brassey, “Prioritizing the health of female employees is a strategic imperative. Here are 4 ways to do it,” World Economic Forum, March 8, 2024. It demands a culture of thriving, in which the promise of innovation and technology, used correctly, inspires people to be more creative in their problem-solving. That can then benefit overall performance.

To build a thriving workplace, leaders must reimagine work, the workplace, and the worker. That means shifting away from viewing employees as cogs who hit their deliverables then turn back into real human beings after the day is done. Employees are now more like elite artists or athletes who are inspired to produce at the highest levels but need adequate time to recharge and recover . The outcome is exceptional; the path to getting there is unique.

In this article, we delve into what a thriving culture is (and what it isn’t) and offer five actions organizations can take to maximize healthy work environments, team effectiveness, and employee well-being  so that more workers can reach their peak performance.

Diving into thriving: The skills that are most important now

A recent McKinsey survey of a global sample of workers found that only about 4 percent in a typical organization reported high levels of sustainable engagement and productivity that in turn brought disproportionate value to a company . 2 Aaron De Smet, Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi, Angelika Reich, and Bill Schaninger, “Some employees are destroying value. Others are building it. Do you know the difference?,” McKinsey Quarterly , September 11, 2023. We call these individuals “thriving stars” (Exhibit 1).

Thriving is more than being happy at work or the opposite of being burned out. Rather, one of the cornerstones of thriving is the idea of positive functioning: a holistic way of being, in which people find a purposeful equilibrium between their physical, mental, social, and spiritual health . Thriving is a state that applies across talent categories, from educators and healthcare specialists to data engineers and retail associates.

As gen AI becomes more prevalent in more jobs, the impact from thriving employees has the potential to grow. These are workers who can demonstrate higher-level cognitive and social–emotional skills to be at their collaborative, creative best each day. In fact, the recent McKinsey survey of gen AI talent shows that heavy users and creators feel they need to build these cognitive and social–emotional skills more than technological skills to do their jobs.

McKinsey research has found that thriving stars achieve high levels of sustained performance because of multiple factors: they are adaptable and resilient, they have found meaning and purpose at work, they achieve work–life balance and flexibility, and they experience psychological safety and trust from leaders, allowing them to create the same for their own teams.

The analysis also revealed that these employees flourish in an environment where autonomy and flexibility are valued by the organization. This indicates that many traditional practices and policies that companies use today may not create a thriving workforce at scale. These traditional practices include measuring productivity by inputs, outputs, and activities rather than by supporting outcomes and results; mandating in-person time; and focusing interventions on corrective action instead of on accelerating performance.

If two computer programmers, for example, are working to develop a creative new-user feature, how helpful is it to measure lines of code written, keystrokes logged, or hours worked? Does it matter if the code was written in the office or at home? If one coder writes 10,000 lines of code and another writes 1,000, which new-user feature is better? The answer has to do with the outcome, not the activity. If users prefer the 1,000-line code because it is simpler and more elegant, that is the better work product—even if it was written in one-tenth of the time.

The assembly-line approach has largely inspired modern-day management and current work policies (the 40-hour workweek is a prime example). Under this model, the organization monitors the programmers’ keystrokes or lines of written code to quantify activities, not necessarily outcomes or impact. Because the work is standardized, the biggest red flag for these workers would be not working enough hours or not producing enough code.

The organization that follows this assembly-line model would want the programmers to do the coding themselves, with no help from AI. It may even want the programmers to complete the coding in their cubicles, not at home. On a workforce level, employees in this model need to be engaged enough, to put in the hours without getting burned out, and to make enough high-quality code each hour to recover from setbacks and power through. This way, they can achieve efficiency and productivity.

If the organization instead takes an artist or athlete approach, it understands not only that people need to be at their very best to be effective but also that the path is different for everyone. As long as there is accountability for timelines and quality of work, the outcome is what matters. If a programmer used AI to do some of the coding and fine-tuned the rest but the result is a more user-friendly product, that would be celebrated. Under this approach, employees are pushed to be innovative, creative, and collaborative; the organization supports their use of the resources available to generate the best output (Exhibit 2).

We believe that the work for humans is departing further from the assembly-line model and getting closer to the artist or athlete framework. In this way of thinking, companies should not be afraid of letting people experiment with chatbot services or other gen AI tools, if those tools help workers perform their jobs better. They should realize that gen AI has the power to enhance human creativity (while also acknowledging the need for intellectual property protections) but not to replace it.

Take the movie Barbie as an example. If Hollywood had asked a chatbot to create a film based on the iconic doll, there’s very little chance it would have come up with the movie about feminist empowerment directed by Greta Gerwig. Leaders should create an environment that allows more employees to thrive like Gerwig.

The work environment gets a makeover

While the scarcity of high performers is an age-old organizational problem, today it takes on new urgency. As more work requires higher cognitive and social–emotional skills, it also requires people who are up to the challenge. To find and retain these employees, organizations should view them as both leaders and full human beings , leaning into the artist or athlete analogy as a guide to the multiple factors that bring about stellar performance.

In this workplace, people at every level are capable of being potential thought leaders who have influence through the right training, support, and guidance. They don’t have to be just “doers” who simply implement what others tell them to. All employees can learn to lead themselves, others, and the business (even if they themselves are not managers). Soon, as many begin to manage AI, they may need to judge which work to delegate to AI, how to assign it, what criteria to use, and how to supervise it. And they may, at times, need to intervene to correct it.

This sort of thriving organization also welcomes employees who bring their full selves to work, knowing that demonstrating authenticity, vulnerability, and other emotions has real benefits and that enhancing psychological safety at work  can lead to better decision making and performance. In Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well (Atria/One Signal Publishers, September 2023), professor Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School writes about how organizations can embrace human fallibility while learning from (and even preventing) failure.

While this work environment sounds great in theory, how does it become reality? To build a thriving culture, companies can rethink policies, practices, and rituals through five actions.

Rewrite the rules on workforce flexibility

Many organizations have made strides when it comes to offering workforce flexibility since the pandemic forced new rules upon much of the business world . Even so, leaders can look for more ways to infuse thoughtful flexibility into the workweek beyond work-from-home and hybrid options.

At the company level, one of the most cutting-edge changes regarding flexibility has involved piloting a four-day workweek. While that is a step in the right direction, it’s not enough. If we think about elite artists and athletes, they don’t have the confines of a four- or five-day week (some even work up to seven days a week). But they do rely on designated times to recover and recharge. Whereas some companies have identified core hours when all employees are expected to be online, we believe there is an opportunity to implement core days—that is, designating a certain number of days or specific days during the week when employees are expected to be online, with flexibility on “off days” to finalize work.

At a function or team level, rather than mandating in-office days, the expectation can be based on the degree of coordination and interdependence of work, or “teaminess.” Some groups may have a greater degree of teaminess, while other teams and functions may have more defined swim lanes and clearer handoffs.

When the function involves more teaminess, the expectation should be more in-person or overlapping core hours. However, just because it’s Tuesday and an employee’s team is in the office doesn’t mean the employee has to be there—especially if there are team video calls throughout the day. Leaders can strive for a more thoughtful collaboration model (more on that below).

On an individual level, employees should be encouraged to optimize for their particular rhythms outside of core team hours. We all know morning and night people, 3 Jeff Haden, “Are you a night owl trying to be a morning person? Science says you may (literally) be killing yourself,” Inc. , August 12, 2022. as well as colleagues who do their best work alone and those who become their most creative selves in a team setting. Some may complete their duties over three long days, while others may stretch the work out in smaller increments over seven days, setting aside time on quiet weekends to get some focused work in.

It’s hard for many leaders and managers to let go of the assembly-line approach to working hours in the office. After all, this has been the norm for nearly a century, since the 40-hour workweek was first adopted by the Ford Motor Company in 1926. But those who embrace a fluid-flexibility model will be responding to what employees across industries and jobs say they need to feel engaged  and to thrive.

Rethink the collaboration model

As routine tasks are increasingly automated, the remaining work becomes more complex, dynamic, and creative and therefore requires higher levels of innovation and collaboration. In turn, effective team dynamics become even more essential within and across teams. The best collaborative models augment thriving by creating a team environment that offers clarity in three areas: the problem the team is trying to solve, how the team knows when it’s successful, and how to work together to get there.

What problem are we trying to solve? Teams must understand the strategic context, problem statement, what’s in and out of scope, and the from–to aspiration at the start of each project. As the work becomes more complex and requires more innovative solutions, solving for each of those elements becomes increasingly less straightforward.

How will we know when we’re successful? As teams scope out the work, they should clearly define what the ultimate impact is from the project, as well as the leading indicators they can track along the way. In today’s environment, we’re more likely to see that the ultimate impact tends to be holistic in nature, affecting teams, customers, stakeholders, and society. The impact for a social media influencer, for example, may be whether a video goes viral, rather than the time frame needed to create that video. If an expected outcome isn’t materializing, the team should rapidly diagnose the problem and shift to different measures of progress.

How do we create sustainable team practices? It’s hard to thrive at work if one’s working preferences aren’t taken into consideration. Teams, especially cross-functional ones, need to feel their own sense of agency as they work together. They must jointly identify and synthesize work preferences to make the most of their time together. Do people, for instance, want to communicate through calls, emails, texts, or a communication app? Should cameras be on or off during online meetings? Are travel and locating close together crucial to achieving team goals? What type of work energizes or drains each team member? A rapid cadence of pulse checks on deliverables is crucial. Feedback is important, too, and not just during a postmortem, when the team discusses what worked well and what could have been done better. People should be empowered to continually offer their constructive feedback about what could be done differently.

Emphasize performance coaching

Just as agreed-upon norms and practices allow teams to thrive, so do clear expectations for individual employees. Those include guidance on how the outcome of their work is measured. A strong performance management system sets accountability metrics that are consistent and equitable.

Employees should have stretch goals they can work toward with clear, quantifiable, objective, and holistic metrics that show whether they are meeting those expectations. If 80 to 90 percent of the workforce is meeting performance expectations, these goals are probably too easy.

Athletes and artists can’t reach their performance goals without continuous feedback and training. A coach wouldn’t wait for the World Cup to manage performance, and a painter’s agent wouldn’t wait until just before a gallery opening to provide feedback on a new body of work. In the same vein, employees shouldn’t have to wait until the end of the year to know how they’re doing. Specific, continuous feedback helps people who are not meeting the bar to meet it, those who are meeting it to exceed it, and those who exceed it as thriving stars to also accelerate their ability to be future leaders.

Even the highest performers should continue to learn and grow through feedback and coaching. Athletes are instructive here as well. They may have a personal coach, a personal trainer, a nutritionist, and others to help them perform at their best. Often, the best athletes in the most important positions get the most coaching.

By contrast, in a corporate setting, an executive coach may be seen as a corrective. Leaders often spend more time coaching the lowest performers than they do the top performers, for example. What if organizations put more energy and resources into coaching and feedback  for the highest performers in the most critical roles? Feedback is extremely valuable across all groups, from the C-suite to the edges of any organization.

Create opportunities to practice and train, not just to perform

At many workplaces, leaders don’t specify whether employees are in practice mode or performance mode. Think of a professional athlete practicing for a big game; the activities and drills are different from those on game day. In the same vein, employees can be in practice mode during certain meetings with their teams, and they can be in performance mode during, say, a board call or a steering committee meeting.

In practice mode, people can expand their comfort zones to be bolder, take more calculated risks, and be more innovative—all of which are critical to learning and professional development. When leaders offer an environment where employees feel safe to speak up, to disagree openly without repercussions, and to show up authentically, their teams are more likely to be productive, creative, and innovative.

Leaders can augment these positive effects by clarifying which opportunities are practice and which are performance so that employees can experiment (for instance, by trying a new analysis).

Outside of day-to-day opportunities to practice, training and capability building should be reimagined. Often, the focus is on creating an enjoyable and engaging experience that is highly recommended to others. However, if we look at artists and athletes, the best training is often grueling and demanding. It is predominantly focused on perfecting technical skill sets and building the right mindsets to achieve explicit goals, not a 98 percent recommendation rate.

Kick the meeting habit and build in time for recovery

To build thriving teams that can tackle problems effectively, it’s important to create the space for employees to think critically, get the work done, and have time to recover. Unfortunately, at many organizations, meeting requirements have become a roadblock to creativity and real productivity. How many meetings are employees in each week that they don’t need to be in ? Can information instead be passed along through quick interactions or an email?

Being in back-to-back meetings day after day can be draining—physically and emotionally. Some companies have implemented “no meeting” days on a monthly or quarterly basis. Many employees also add to their calendars microbreaks or time to block things out and focus. They use that time to go for a walk or even take a quick nap—whatever they need to disconnect, recharge, and recover. Building in these moments, small as they may seem, can reap big rewards. Recent McKinsey research on thriving indicates that globally, aligning employment with modifiable factors of health can not only lead to years of higher-quality life but also create trillions of dollars in economic value . 4 Jacqueline Brassey, Lars Hartenstein, Barbara Jeffery, and Patrick Simon, “ Working nine to thrive ,” McKinsey Health Institute, March 13, 2024.

In this postindustrial digital era, organizations must shift from rewarding traditional forms of productivity—time spent, output recorded—to recognizing impact and outcomes. Until recently, the steps required were slow and evolutionary for most companies. But now, with the pandemic and the advent of gen AI, this evolution can turn into a revolution that spurs employees and organizations alike to grow and thrive.

Jacqueline Brassey is a coleader of employee health at the McKinsey Health Institute and a senior fellow in McKinsey’s Luxembourg office, Aaron De Smet is a senior partner in the New Jersey office, Emily Field is a partner in the Seattle office, Taylor Lauricella is an associate partner in the New York office, and Brooke Weddle is a partner in the Washington, DC, office.

This article was edited by Barbara Tierney, a senior editor in the New York office.

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AI threat to your job? Recruiters reveal the most important skill applicants must have

In 2024 microsoft work trends index study, it was revealed that 45 per cent of professionals worry ai will replace their job, while the others concerned about a lack of talent to fill the role..

Priya Singh

  • Updated May 13, 2024, 8:00 PM IST

People who have AI skills are more likely to get a jobs

Artificial Intelligence had created a fear among the working people that it will take away their jobs. However, you should be careful of people who have the ability to use AI efficiently. Laurence Liew, director for AI Innovation at AI Singapore, during a panel discussion at Salesforce’s World Tour Essentials event in Singapore stated, “AI is not going to replace you. You’re going to be replaced by someone who uses AI to outperform you.”

In 2024 Microsoft Work Trends Index study, it was revealed that 45 per cent of professionals worry AI will replace their job, while the others concerned about a lack of talent to fill role.

While AI does seem like an important field that people should know about, Liew noted that the top skill to learn today is communicating effectively with existing AI-powered LLMs because they all respond like a robot. It is important for the professionals using it to pave it in a way that it looks more natural and conversational.

If you are good at communication, then only you will be able to give an effective prompt to your AI chatbot and get the desired answer because the AI tool need context for everything. The more detail and context you give, the better response you get.

“You have to give the AI a lot of context — treat AI like a very hardworking intern that will make mistakes occasionally ... If you think about it, if you’re [asking] an intern to do something, it won’t be one sentence. The intern would probably be scratching their head on what to do,” he said.

Christina Gialleli, the director of people operations at Epignosis, a software learning company, told CNBC Make It, “Consider today’s hybrid workforce that uses multiple email and messaging platforms, where up to five generations make up a workplace, and it’s not surprising that people want to brush up on their communication skills.

Also Read: 

Apple aims to export 25 per cent of total iPhones from India by 2028: MoS IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Google I/O 2024: From Android 15 to ‘Pixie’ AI assistant and Pixel Fold 2, here’s what to expect

Tips to use ChatGPT-like AI tools to write a great resume


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