Posted October 15, 2019
Even people who regularly prepare and give presentations can struggle with them.
Andy Goodman, author of Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes, divides presenters into five categories – All Stars, Naturals, the Unplugged, Draftees, and Jitterbugs. The All Stars and Naturals – representing an estimated 38% of presenters according to his research – have no problems, but the remaining three groups (62%) face a serious issue: they’ve failed to develop the skills and characteristics necessary to deliver good presentations.
And the skillful creation and delivery of presentations can make all the difference. It can improve audience attention, enhance audience perception of the presenter, strengthen audience understanding of the material, and more.
That’s not how most presentations go. An analysis of 240 academic presentations found that 92% did not correctly pace their presentations (ending too soon or going over time allowed) and 72% of presenters committed a common but cardinal sin: they read “at least one of their slides in its entirety.” (This is a problem because research has found that forcing the audience to parse the same information in visual, textual, and auditory formats simultaneously results in cognitive overload and negatively impacts memory retention.)
In other words, developing presentation skills can pay dividends in presentations that are more effective, more memorable, and better received.
But there’s another hidden benefit to developing relevant skills: you can create presentations faster.
Goodman describes how Jitterbugs, for example, are people with little to no training (formal or informal) in presenting. They shy away from these situations, but when forced to present, they often spend extra time preparing and rehearsing. Worse, that time may not help them develop their skills, if they end up simply “refining bad habits or getting more comfortable delivering bad content,” Goodman writes.
The obvious solution is skills development in this area, but how does this help?
Consider the impact of turning raw data into stories. In our article “Why data must tell a story,” we explain how data-driven storytelling increases audience comprehension of the material while engaging them on an emotional level, which helps facilitate action. But successfully translating raw data, facts, or information into compelling stories is a multi-phase process that includes discovery, design, and delivery. Those who are unskilled in any of these areas – or, worse, all of them – will be like those Jitterbugs who end up spending extra time trying to get it right but who still get it wrong. Even worse, getting the basics wrong makes every subsequent step more difficult and time-consuming.
Formal skills development for presenting can be incredibly impactful for organizations and individual presenters by saving time and delivering more effective presentations.
About Hurley Write, Inc.
Hurley Write, Inc., a certified women-owned small business (WBENC and WOSB), Historically Underutilized (HUB), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), has been designing and teaching customized onsite and online technical, business, and scientific writing courses for over 30 years. We also develop and teach specialty courses, such as how to write proposals and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and deviation and investigation reports, and how to prepare and give great presentations.
Links: internal, Stanford University, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Research in the Schools, Population & Poverty Research Network