Have you ever spoken to a group of people, only to get a blank stare? Remember…the one where the person in the front row fell asleep? Is it your subject? Or is it you? Whether presenting one-on-one or to a group, many speakers drone on and on, unaware that people are tuning them out. Their audiences blame style, delivery and organization. While these criticisms may be valid, it takes far more to keep your audience’s attention in today’s fast paced world and executives are realizing that expert knowledge is no longer enough—they need to hone their speaking skills to succeed.
I work with a lot of terrific people who are exceptional at what they do. But in order for them to take their careers to the next level, senior management needs to see them as leaders who can command attention and respect. That’s what a top pharmaceutical executive recently told me before I coached key members of his team. When delivering presentations, he said it is essential for them to be able to hit it out of the ballpark if they hope to take their careers to the next level. The executive says a person’a ability to present key information clearly and concisely is critical to their credibility, and the respect they earn both internally and externally.
Yet, even top tier managers will privately admit they are not sure how to deliver more effective data packed presentations that contain fewer slides and more personality. They acknowledge that their PowerPoint driven presentations are too long, lack organization, substance, style and sometimes fail to provide perspective, context or direction.
Sheepishly and slightly embarrassed, they divulge that this is the way it’s always been done and say they’re afraid to leave out important information or personalize their presentations for fear of not being taken seriously.