Upgrade from good to great presentation skills

I believe that there are two kinds of presentation skills. One kind helps make the speaker look good. The other kind helps the listeners understand and believe in the speaker.

Many presentation coaches work with a speaker to “package” his or her delivery–to make him or her look good to the audience.

Packaging is important. Good presentation skills concentrate on packaging the speaker. They help the speaker grab and hold the listeners’ attention. Examples of such packaging are using effective hand gestures, focusing your eyes on one listener at a time, and standing with your weight on both feet.

These skills enhance the appeal of speakers, but do they benefit the audience?

Great presentation skills, on the other hand, help the audience understand, believe, and remember a message. A great presentation skill helps the speaker persuade the listeners. The speaker’s appeal is enhanced because he or she is connecting with listeners as well as explaining a position, or simplifying an issue, or supporting a position, etc.

Great speakers, essentially, educate the listeners so they can form opinions or make decisions. And, odds are, because the audience understands the subject better and had a good experience with the speaker, they’ll feel good about those opinions or decisions.

Here’s my list of great presentation skills that people need:

1. Great presenters change the thinking of the audience on a given topic and rearrange it so that it’s new, improved, and widely embraced.

2. Great speakers structure a talk so the content’s goal is to move the audience from “thinking about” something to “acting on” or “preparing to act on” something.

3. Great communicators know how to be authentic with an audience so they are memorable in a genuine way. Listeners feel a bond with them–like they are trusted guides leading them through information.

I do not claim these are ironclad laws of presenting. Rather, they are my attempt to define great presentation skills, as opposed to merely good ones.

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