THE NOTION of speaking in front of an audience can strike fear into a lot of people, and this is why professionals who can engage people in meetings, assemblies, parties and other events are deemed admirable, intelligent and relatable.
Delivering presentations in the business or corporate setting is no longer reserved for the top bosses.
These days, no matter what position or department you belong to, you are expected to stand up and be able to present at some point, be it for internal or external audiences, bringing good news or bad.
We asked Jesse Rebustillo, current president of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), for his insights on the matter.
Q: Why is it important for companies to train their employees in presentation skills? What’s the ROI?
For those who are involved in the sales function, the return on investment is clear: an engaging and relevant presentation can “close the deal” and generate revenue for the business. For those who are in other functions, such skills can ensure that meetings are productive and efficient. Presentations that combine research, informative graphics, with a personable and confident speaking style will be understood and appreciated by the audience—who will respond positively. This could mean faster approvals, and facilitate communication among several teams—if the message is clear.
Q: What are some common mistakes that professionals make when making presentations?
One common mistake is being underprepared, or not prepared at all. When I say unprepared, it means the mind is not ready to deliver the message. The presenter does not have an end in mind, or structure to follow in his delivery. He did not envision what the desired outcome of his presentation would be, and might either end up rambling or struck dumb in the middle of his delivery. Of course, there is also the matter of having the practical or technical side ready—the visuals, research, etc.
It is vital to know the needs of your audience. This is the most basic requirement, and yet many overlook this. Why are they in the meeting, for example? What do they need to know? There are many important questions that need to be answered for you to adequately prepare and be able to connect with your audience.
Q: How can we inspire confidence in new supervisors, when they have to present during meetings?
There are many ways to develop the skills needed to become a good communicator, but perhaps the most important is to get them used to the routine of preparation and practice, practice, practice. It is important to allow them to have opportunities to present, so that they can find their voice, their rhythm, experiment with new techniques and improve on their perceived weaknesses.
Q: Is being an engaging presenter innate? Or can it be learned?
I would say that it is a little of both. One must have the confidence and desire to reach out to his or her audience, and have sufficient background knowledge on the topics to be seen as credible and relatable. It is therefore important to be well-read and outgoing, and have the drive to connect and engage with people.
There may be some people who are innately confident, possibly due to their upbringing or personal experiences, but the various elements that combine to make great presenters can also definitely be consciously learned over time and developed through practice.
Rebustillo is also the AVP for Industry Relations of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He was also President of the Philippine Society for Training and Development (PSTD) in 2011.
Rebustillo will be facilitating a workshop entitled “Engaging Presentation Skills in the Workplace” on July 25-26, 2016. It will be held at the Inquirer Academy Building, Don Chino Roces Avenue corner Ponte Street, Makati City. This is designed for professionals, new managers and supervisors, and entrepreneurs, to help them become more confident about speaking in front of big and small audiences.