Education

Office poll: Do you think you'd be a better presenter if you received some type of professional training?

Take this week's poll: Do you think you could improve your presentation skills with professional training?

In last week's poll, Have you had any training to improve your presentation skills, almost half of those who responded learn on their own. Only a third of those who responded have received professional training, and half of those have attended only one professional workshop! That prompted this week's poll--do you think you could improve your presentation skills with professional training?

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

11 comments
Ishtiyaqueahmeda
Ishtiyaqueahmeda

I think this should be in practice to develop the skills, one cannot learn swimming by just reading the books. We can, only when we leap into the pool

doug
doug

For me, what has helped was joining a Toastmaster's Club. This is an organization that helps members in developing both public speaking and leadership skills. Also, its one of the best training for the money spent; which was easily expensed to my boss. Others in our organization and I had shown remarkable improvement in giving presentations. Ironically, in this small organization of 30-35 employees. Felt it was funny that I, their technologist, ended up going to conventions to give presentations instead of any of the sales or marketing people.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't have too much problem preparing, rehearsing, and presenting to a group, but I only do that every couple of years. Where I need assistance is in one-on-one situations, especially training an individual in an unscheduled or ad hoc session. I take too many things for granted and then get frustrated with myself at the poor job I'm doing. Unfortunately, that frustration can appear to be directed at the other person.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Recognizing your shortcomings means you have the opportunity to correct them. In your own case, never assume your trainee knows everything he needs to know. Ask questions; if you can, get him/her to show what they already know so you have a starting point. I had one class where a student knew at least as much about the subject than I did. I ended up recommending him for immediate transfer to FTD (Field Training Detachment) so he could learn the specifics of his career field rather than forcing him to go through months of basic electronics first.

ssharkins
ssharkins

One thing I say right up front is this -- the whole point of one on one is customized training. He or she gets what they need. So, I just tell them, if I start to cover something you know, stop me. If I start to cover something you're unfamiliar with and you feel lost, stop me. I like to just sit with them and help them do their work more efficiently. They can learn a lot that way.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

One-on-One does not require presentation skills in the same manner as the article describes. On average, I've found One-on-One to be easier since you can adjust to your student's abilities fairly quickly. However, with a presentation, you've got to both avoid making it a dry lecture while simultaneously getting your information across to the most number of attendees. Humor and anecdotes help, but you at least have to try and keep them relevant to the subject matter. Somebody who is a natural speaker can quickly become a strong leader of people, but if he doesn't know what he's talking about, he can lose them as quickly as he gained them. On the other hand, someone who really knows his subject may be incapable of presenting it in a manner his audience can understand, as mentioned by one of the earlier comments. This is where that training is critical to the speaker.

mansonc
mansonc

I found that joining Toastmasters was more valuable than being taught the technical tips (they're still important, but getting your verbal and body language messages across are vital too)

killerwebinars
killerwebinars

Interesting poll, Susan! Eons ago, I taught a presentation skills class at Compaq. I found it ironic that the worst presenters (usually male engineers) believed they were already good at it and didn't need to learn anything... :)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

As a former military instructor, I have the training perhaps at a better level than the average college grad. With that in mind, I have to say that basic college courses are honestly behind the curve and can't really keep up. As much as they try to stay up to date, they can't help but be at least a year behind the technologies and methods. I've watched presenters for much of my life, and quite honestly most of them are so boring that they could put you to sleep in the middle of a p*rno. Presentations don't have to be boring. Good training can give you the skills to make our presentations interesting and instructive.

ssharkins
ssharkins

And sometimes the information is boring -- is stuff you need to hear/know, but it's pretty boring.

WesleyRoss
WesleyRoss

I too, am a former military Instructor. Learners have expectations; the biggest expectation being the 'What's In It For Me?' (WIIFM?) mindset. Know your Learners and fulfill their expectations. Know what you are talking about. Be in control of the training environment. Ask probing questions/ elicit feedback. This is all part of a good presentation.