When I was in high school, we were required to take a full year of speech class. High school speech class wasn’t the best preparation for presentations, but it’s better than nothing. It taught us the basics of preparation and gave us a place to practice speaking in front of peers, what nerves feel like, and the guts to overcome them. When I went to college, we were again required to take a speech class. Again, it didn’t teach us everything we needed to know, but it was still a base of information so one wouldn’t embarrass themselves during a presentation.
Since this was my experience, I assumed that today’s students were also taking speech classes and getting some training, at least getting the basics– turns out they are not. Even my husband didn’t take speech in high school or in college, but instead classes required presentations on research papers. The problem with an untrained presenter is a lack of knowledge about what to do and how to do it.
Tomorrow’s young professionals communicate on a regular basis, but they communicate via computer-generated messages over the web or text messages by phone. Although they are people friendly and highly social, the learned bad habits of abbreviating everything and using acronyms (OIC= Oh I See). They aren’t set up to properly giving presentations or convey information. Today’s colleges are turning the focus on training students for their chosen industry and are ignoring the need for soft skills such as office etiquette and presentation skills.
The need for employers to train recent college graduates is increasing and will continue to be necessary to get these employees into a shape and at the level they need to be to represent the company and to excel in the business world.
4 steps to make your presentation skills instantly better:
- Utilize the available resources and educate yourself about what presentation delivery requires.
- Video yourself or have a colleague video you for analysis about individual habits such as movement or use of crutch words.
- Find a source to practice presentations regularly, and consciously avoid problem areas.
- Know that it takes time and sometimes an objective point of view, be patient and persistent.