Over the years of teaching Communication Skills I have relished the opportunity to go deeper. When a client’s needs evoke the finer points of self-exploration and personal growth to achieve stronger leadership, the work and the results are incredibly rewarding. Leading groups to find courage and refined levels of resiliency and skill for handling conflict is also deeply satisfying. Entering a team, investigating, establishing rapport and trust, then effectively navigating an intervention that leads to healing, higher effectiveness and individual transformation is incredibly gratifying. I often stop and savor my luck to be doing work that I love. Yet, I still also love leading workshops in the supposedly basic and simple skills of Presentation! Funny how sometimes when I mention that I teach Presentation Skills, professionals are apt to scoff and dismiss…
I have always valued Presentation Skills as “foundational” to excellent communication skills.
I was heartened to read the following paragraph in Daniel Goleman’s latest text on the value of Emotional Intelligence – Primal Leadership:
…people who work at mastering a discipline…who have the chance to hone public speaking skills are laying down a neuronal scaffold that, later in life, will offer a crucial support for leadership. This early learning will support competencies such as self-control and the drive to achieve, collaboration, and persuasion.
Goleman clearly elevates Presentation Skills to their deserved position in communication excellence.
What foundation blocks do these essential skills lay?
- Self-Mastery and Resilience. Because “Public Speaking” has been cited as human kind’s #1 fear, many people must overcome some level of fear, nervousness or prior shame. Presentation requires learning or applying an effective form of “centering.” Once established and consistently used, these “neuronal” circuits are entrained and available for use in conflict management, self-management, self-encouragement, and self-motivation.
- Influence Skills. Most presentations require the presenter to persuade a group to action. Learning and practicing the principles of using speech, writing, visuals, and one’s own physical behavioral cues to persuade, implants the mental programming on which ever new and creative iterations may be built.
- Strategy. When learning to plan and position presentation elements for greatest influence, participants learn essential elements of strategic thinking.
- Adult Education. Just about every associate in a company will at some time be required to effectively teach another. Effective content development is instruction in breaking a topic into digestible, logical segments.
- Self-awareness. The best presentation skills classes work deeply with an individual’s whole being. Video taping and group feedback provide realistic awareness of how others interpret all aspects of our whole, body-voice-face-verbal, message. Learning distinctions and skills to improve the whole person message reinforces Self-mastery and Resilience.
- Relationship. Excellent presentation requires thoughtful audience analysis on both group and individual levels. Foundational skills of analysis, awareness, involvement, respect, rapport, listening and conflict management are extremely useful in all interpersonal relations.
- Masterful Improvisation. Practicing structuring ideas for presentation provides the neuronal patterning for responding clearly and briefly for those nerve frying – thinking-on-your-feet situations.
- Discipline. To be an excellent presenter requires the discipline to rehearse specific practices. Associates learn and use many new practices within the hours of a good presentation workshop. Continued improvement requires disciplined practice.
To name a few…
The foundational benefits of Presentation Skills training are endless. Workshops are especially resonant when the work is supported by scientific data and the deep principles of effective communication. How we present ourselves, how we “show up” on a daily basis, HOW we accomplish our work, is indeed primal.
Funny, that when I am hired to do the deeper work I cite above, I am often required to go back and coach the essential practices laid down in Presentation Skills. In fact, it is the weakness or absence of these foundational skills that is usually the heart of the problem. I believe excellent Presentation Skills are vital to business success. From the rich self-awareness of fine presentation skills grow the capabilities of resonant interpersonal skills, authentic influence and dynamic leadership.