How to Develop Strong Presentation Skills


Strong presentation skills can help you advance your career if you hope to become a manager and leader. Presentation skills are a key component in leadership development because leaders need to inform, persuade and motivate people in organizations. This article outlines a few ways you can develop strong presentation skills, which should help you become a more effective communicator and leader.

  • Know Your Objective

    When developing a presentation you must know your objective: is it to inform, to persuade, or to inspire and motivate action? The presentation you develop should be tailored for your objective. Success in developing strong presentation skills depends upon your having a clear objective for each one you build.

  • Know Thyself

    A presenter's strongest appeal is his or her character. You need to demonstrate trustworthiness, objectivity, and relevant experience or knowledge to be credible. Lies or exaggerations destroy a presenter's effectiveness. In order to develop strong presentation skills, you'll need to watch what you say and how you say it so that good character and good will shine brightly.

  • Know Your Audience

    In persuasive contexts (sales, for example) strong presentation skills depend in part upon your ability to know or learn what the perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and preferences of your audience are. Ask a lot of questions of representative members of your audience prior to constructing your presentation. Anchor your arguments and key points in their reality, even when you aim to change them.

  • Pay Attention to Human Limitations

    Good leaders and communicators understand that people have limited attention spans and that many people can be skeptical if not downright cynical. So develop your presentations with these factors in mind. Be sure to explain the why of any new expectations to overcome the resistance of inertia and skepticism. And don't expect people to be able to sit still and focus for much more than 45 minutes at a time. In most cases keep your presentations to 30 minutes or less to allow time for questions and discussion.

  • Inform Using the Three Times Technique

    Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. That was the military's very effective method of informing the troops or teaching new information. Repetition works, so use it if you want to develop strong presentation skills, but don't overdo it. In a slide or flip chart presentation have the first slide or page after the title be a table of contents (what you're going to tell them) and the last slide or page a summary or recap (what you've told them).

  • Think Carefully about Your Presentation Method

    The context often determines the best presentation method. In a conference room or small meeting room, flip charts, PowerPoint slides or overhead projector slides all work well for face-to-face presentations. Sitting down presenting from a written document can be a problem.

    If the audience is in multiple locations then a conference call using emailed PowerPoint slides would work, but people can get ahead of the presenter. In order to make best use of your presentation skills use WebEx or similar technology for online meetings so that you can control each slide and the pace of the presentation.

  • Practice, Practice, Practice to Develop Strong Presentation Skills

    The best way to develop strong presentation skills is by doing them. While making presentations and obtaining feedback is the best form of practice, you should also practice each presentation you develop before actually making it. Mastering presentation skills is an important part of leadership training, so take your practice seriously.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use visuals like charts and graphs in your presentations to convey important information or data. But make sure that they are accurate and clear.
  • Avoid having too many words on a page or slide. Too much information in a presentation can be distracting.

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