3 Top Resources for Learning Presentation Skills for 2020

What are presentation skills and what can they do to advance your career? These skills are more than just your ability to speak – they can influence the direction of your career, regardless of what job you have. If your speaking skills need some polishing up, you’ll find plenty of resources online to improve your skills. To narrow your search, I’ve found you three resources that teach some powerful presentation skills that you should not miss.

1 Guide to Improving Presentation Skills

The first resource which I recommend is the “How to Improve Your Presentation Skills” guide. If you’re new to creating presentations, or you’re working on strengthening your presentation skills, you will get a firm overview of the entire process.

The guide describes presentations as a two-part process starting with preparation. In this first stage, you research the audience you will be speaking to. Next, structure your presentation into three parts: the opening, body, and closing. Finally, the last step is practice. There is no shortcutting a polished presentation. You must practice it several times until it flows naturally.

What’s effective is how each stage isn’t just a description of the process. You’ll find words of wisdom from experts such as David Parnell, who wrote a book about the psychology of effective communication.  Public speaking coach Lisa Braithwaite advises us to avoid memorizing our speech. Instead, practice in front of people you know or join a local toastmasters club. These tips add value to the article.

One suggestion in the article that is particularly valuable is to videotape yourself. That may cause you even more stress, but this recommendation is one of the best. It allows you to see yourself from your audience’s perspective and find how you can improve on your speaking skills.

The second part of the presentation process is the delivery. I like how the guide sets up this part of the article as well. In point form, it provides succinct and effective tips on keeping your audience engaged, speaking the language of your audience, and avoiding filler words such as “um” and “uh.”

A brief numbered list reminds you of the best body language that will make you look confident when giving a presentation, from sustaining eye contact with your listeners, to hand movements and use of props.

These days, many presentations make use of PowerPoint slides. The guide only briefly highlights some of the differences between a good and a bad PowerPoint presentation. 

Answering questions is the final part of a presentation and can be intimidating for those who fear being asked something they cannot answer. The guide briefly covers how to tackle questions from the audience and how to end your presentation in a way that keeps them focused on your key message. For more information, you’ll find a useful list of resources on communication skills at the end of the guide.

My verdict on this article: very handy for summarizing all the key points for making a presentation. The references to communication experts are useful and are a great starting point if you want to do more research on communication psychology and techniques.

My next resource takes a different approach to learning presentation skills.

2 Giving Killer Presentations Ted Talk Style

At first, I wasn’t certain about including this article as a resource for learning how to give presentations because of the focus on story telling. However, story telling is a highly captivating way to deliver your message to your audience.

The article “How to Give a Killer Presentation” begins with a narrative about Richard Turere and how his interest in electronics led to installing a system of lights that deterred lions from attacking a village. It was his compelling story that made him a candidate for giving a TED talk.

Ted talks are speeches, or presentations, about an idea that is worthy of sharing with a wider audience. A range of people from various backgrounds in politics, science, academics, and music have given TED talks.

According to the article, the content of a TED talk can become “mesmerizing” with the right amount of coaching. Developing your presentation is divided into four stages, starting with framing your story. Anyone can tell a story, but if your story isn’t relevant to your audience… you’ll see your talk fail.

This first part is vital to your presentation because you don’t want to fail to capture your audience’s attention. The article compares a good talk to a detective story. To frame your story well, there must be purpose and there must be a progression. I like how the article provides examples of good and bad framing using the personal experience of the author.

The second part of the presentation is the delivery. With the level of technology we have today, it’s possible to read your entire speech off a teleprompter, but the experts recommend memorizing your talk word for word.

It will take time to remember each word, and of course, you don’t want to stare off into space mid speech when you forget your lines either. The article assures you that yes, some scary situations may happen, but if you practice a lot, your speech will become natural to you.

The next point the article teaches you is how to develop a stage presence. Making eye contact, keeping your body movements minimal and purposeful, and learning to deal with your nervousness are vital to developing a stage presence.

Next, plan your multimedia. Surprisingly, the article suggests that PowerPoints are not necessary, although some presenters use them. Instead, the author recommends using video clips and slide images. This way, you won’t be tempted to read off of bullet points.

Finally, the author says preparation from months in advance is key to a successful TED talks presentation. It is clear that a stellar presentation requires a lot of effort, but the reward will be a tremendous sense of achievement when your talk goes as anticipated.

One of the best elements of this article are the video clips of TED talks from actual TED talk presenters. Checking out some, or even all of these videos, is highly recommended.

The final article in this collection takes the approach of learning presentation skills as a skill that can move your career forward.

3. Developing Presentation Skills for Workplace Success

Important Presentation Skills for Workplace Success” teaches presentation skills as an important part of your success at work.  Each section lists all of the skills that you will develop at each stage of working on your presentation. You can use these lists as a checklist for your own professional development.

To start, the article defines what presentation skills are and why they are a job requirement. Then it breaks down the phases of a presentation: preparation, delivery, and follow up. Much of the content is typical for any article on presentations. However, I like the focus on skill sets. Conducting research, using body language, and creating digital slides are all considered as skills.

Next, you learn about the types of presentations, such as analytical thinking and organization. You’re not just giving your audience a bunch of content. You evaluate and restructure it first. And when organizing your presentation, you need to prioritize and schedule activities such as your practice sessions.

Nonverbal and verbal communication are equally important when developing your presentation skills. Nonverbal communication involves using effective body language. Verbal communication includes public speaking, a skill that evokes nightmares for many people.

Those who can deliver a speech to a group of strangers definitely have an advantage over those who are more comfortable speaking one-on-one. Also, the ability to handle difficult questions from a large audience is also a strong skill to master.  

The biggest surprise in this article was a list of additional skills that you don’t usually associate with giving presentations. For instance, writing skills, coaching, and sales. As a follow up, I would read more about how these skills relate to giving presentations.

In general, having all these presentation-related skills in a list format makes it easy to review all the items at a glance and include the most relevant skills in your resume.

Summary

Effective presentation skills will give you an advantage at the workplace. You’ll feel more confident presenting at meetings, giving talks at conferences, or giving elevator pitches at networking events. These three resources for learning presentation skills take different approaches on teaching you presentation skills. But they are all worth a quick read if you’re looking to brush up on your speaking skills.

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