Raising the Bar on Your Presentations and Your Career

How to hone your public speaking skills and engage an audience

Margo T. Krasne
Speak Up

 

Can you remember the last time you sat enthralled through a business presentation – invigorated and impelled to action? More likely, you kept your eyes front, but your thoughts back at your desk, or on your weekend escape plans – or simply on an escape from the presentation itself. And where do you think your audience goes when you're in front of the room? Do they stay with you and your message, or do those glassy eyes tell another story? It boggles the mind to think of all the time and money companies spend on presentations, not to mention what it costs to gather a group together, only to have the group leave, if not in body, in spirit.

Considering that most careers advance or recede in direct relationship to one's ability to present effectively, you'd think we would do better. Yes, there are those people whose fear of public speaking leads them to take backroom jobs in an effort to avoid giving presentations. (Jerry Seinfeld supposedly said that at a funeral, most people would prefer to be in the coffin than delivering the eulogy.) However, most of us find that whether we like it or not, presentations go with the job. Sadly, few like it, and even fewer are really good at it. But their dislike is often not due to a fear of public speaking. At a certain point in a career, after we've had enough presentations under our belts, the fears recede or disappear entirely.