Career Planning Skills Development Important Presentation Skills for Workplace Success By Alison Doyle Alison Doyle Facebook Twitter Website Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts and has counseled both students and corporations on hiring practices. She has given hundreds of interviews on the topic for outlets including The New York Times, BBC News, and LinkedIn. Alison founded CareerToolBelt.com and has been an expert in the field for more than 20 years. learn about our editorial policies Updated on September 7, 2022 In This Article View All In This Article What Are Presentation Skills? Steps To Create a Presentation Skills That Help Make an Effective Presentation How To Make Your Skills Stand Out Photo: xavierarnau / Getty Images Whether you’re a high-level executive or an administrative assistant, developing your presentation skills is one key way to climb in an office-based job. Leaders make decisions based on information shared in presentation format, and hardly any business changes its mind without first seeing a persuasive presentation. It is important for any office employee to know what steps go into creating an effective presentation and what presentation skills are most important to employers. Highlighting these skills will also help you stand out during your job search. Key Takeaways Presentation skills are what you need to know to be able to give an engaging, effective presentation.The steps to creating a successful presentation are preparation, delivery, and follow-up.Employers want to know you have the necessary skills to research, analyze, and create a presentation, plus the communication skills needed to deliver it and field questions afterward.You can highlight your skills to employers through your resume, cover letter, and interview. What Are Presentation Skills? Presentation skills refer to all the qualities you need to create and deliver a clear and effective presentation. While what you say during a presentation matters, employers also value the ability to create supporting materials, such as slides. Your prospective employer may want you to deliver briefings and reports to colleagues, conduct training sessions, present information to clients, or perform any number of other tasks that involve speaking before an audience. Giving engaging and easy-to-understand talks is a major component of the strong oral communication skills that are a job requirement for many positions. Not all presentations take place in a formal meeting. Many presentation skills are relevant to one-on-one consults or sales calls. Steps To Create a Presentation Any presentation has three phases: preparation, delivery, and follow-up. All presentation skills fit into one of these three phases. Preparation Preparation involves research and building the presentation. Consider the audience you'll be presenting to and what most interests them. This may mean crafting the entire text (or at least writing notes) and creating any slides and other supporting audio/visual materials. You will also have to make sure that the appropriate venue is available, properly set up beforehand, and ensure the projector (if you'll need one) works and connects with your laptop. You'll also want to practice your presentation as many times as you need to to feel comfortable delivering it with ease and confidence within the time allotted for the presentation. Skills related to preparation include conducting research related to your presentation topic, devising charts and graphs depicting your research findings, and learning about your audience to better tailor your presentation to their needs. You'll also need to create digital slides, using statistics, examples, and stories to illustrate your points and effectively to persuade the audience. Preparing handouts or digital references is an added courtesy that will help the audience pay attention because they won't be preoccupied with note-taking. Delivery Your delivery is the part of the presentation that the audience sees. A good delivery depends on careful preparation and confident presentation and requires its own distinctive skill set. Skills related to delivery include giving an attention-grabbing opening for a talk, providing a summary of what will be covered to introduce the presentation and provide context, and using body language and eye contact to convey energy and confidence. Note Make sure you pause to emphasize key points, modulate your vocal tone for emphasis, and articulate your speech clearly and smoothly. Don't be afraid of injecting humor or speaking with enthusiasm and animation—these techniques can help you in projecting confidence to your audience. Summarize key points at the conclusion of the presentation, and be sure to have a plan for how you'll field any audience questions. Follow-up Presentation follow-up includes properly breaking down and storing any equipment, contacting any audience members with whom you agreed to communicate further, and soliciting, collecting, and analyzing feedback. In some presentations, you may collect information from audience members—such as names and contact information or completed surveys—that you also must organize and store. Skills related to follow-up include creating an evaluation form to solicit feedback from attendees, interpreting feedback from evaluations, and modifying the content and/or delivery for future presentations. Other follow-up skills include organizing a database of attendees for future presentations, interviewing key attendees to gain additional feedback, and emailing presentation slides to attendees. Skills That Help Make an Effective Presentation To create and deliver the most effective presentation takes a variety of skills, which you can always work to improve. Analytical You must be able to look honestly at your performance, assess the feedback you get, and figure out what you need to do to get better. That takes analytical thinking. More importantly, you need to have a firm grasp of the information you are about to communicate to others. You need to analyze your audience and be prepared to think quickly if asked questions that force you to demonstrate that you are fully aware of the material and its implications. The kind of analytical skills you need to be an effective presenter include problem sensitivity, problem-solving, reporting and surveying, optimization, and predictive modeling. It also helps to be adept at strategic planning, integration, process management, and diagnostics. With these skills, you'll be better able to objectively analyze, evaluate, and act on your findings. Organization You do not want to be the person who spends half of their presentation time trying to find a cable to connect their laptop to the projector. Many things can and do go wrong just before a presentation unless you are organized. Presentation preparation also means keeping track of notes, information, and start/stop times. You will want to proofread and fine-tune all the materials you plan to use for the presentation to catch any mistakes. Make sure you time yourself when you rehearse so you know how long it will take to deliver the presentation. Note A presentation that's finished in half the time allotted is as problematic as one that's too long-winded. Some key organizational skills to work on include event planning, auditing, benchmarking, prioritization, and recordkeeping. Make sure your scheduling is on point and pay close attention to detail. Quick thinking is an important skill to have for when things inevitably go wrong. Nonverbal Communication When speaking to an audience, the way you present yourself can be just as important as how you present your information. You want to appear confident and engaging. You can do this through good posture, the use of hand gestures, and making eye contact with the audience. Practice your nonverbal communication by filming yourself doing a practice presentation and observing your body language carefully. Your physical bearing and poise should convey a degree of comfort and confidence in front of an audience, while active listening, respect, and emotional intelligence will help you in facilitating group discussions. Presentation Software Microsoft PowerPoint is the dominant software used to create visual aids for presentations. Learn to use it well, including the special features outside of basic templates that can really bring a presentation to life. Even if someone else is preparing your slideshow for you, it will help to know how to use the software in case of last-minute changes. Other software that is good to learn includes Microsoft Office, Apple Keynote, Google Slides, and Adobe Presenter. Public Speaking You need to appear comfortable and engaging when speaking before a live audience, even if you're not. This can take years of practice, and sometimes public speaking just isn't for certain people. An uncomfortable presenter is a challenge for everyone. Fortunately, public speaking skills can improve with practice. Some skills to work on include articulation, engagement, and memorization. You should be able to assess the needs of the audience and handle difficult questions. Controlling your performance anxiety will help you communicate more effectively. Research Research is the first step in preparing most presentations and could range from a multi-year process to spending 20 minutes online, depending on context and subject matter. At the very least, you must be able to clearly frame research questions, identify appropriate information sources, and organize your results. Other useful skills include brainstorming, collaboration, comparative analysis, data interpretation, and deductive and inductive reasoning. Business intelligence is a skill that will help you evaluate what information you need to support the bottom line, while case analysis and causal relationships will help you parse and evaluate meaning. Verbal Communication Public speaking is one form of verbal communication, but you will need other forms to give a good presentation. Specifically, you must know how to answer questions. You should be able to understand questions asked by your audience (even if they're strange or poorly worded) and provide respectful, honest, and accurate answers without getting off-topic. Use active listening, focus, and empathy to understand your audience. Skills such as assertiveness, affirmation, and enunciation will help you restate and clarify your key points as it relates to their questions or concerns. Writing You may or may not need a written script, but you do need to pre-plan what you are going to say, in what order you will say it, and at what level of detail. If you can write a cohesive essay, you can plan a presentation. Typical writing skills apply to your presentation just as they do to other forms of writing, including grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and proofreading. The ability to build outlines, take notes, and mark up documents will also be useful. More Presentation Skills In addition to the skills previously mentioned, there are other important skills that can apply to your presentation. The other skills you need will depend on what your presentation is about, your audience, and your intended results. Some of these additional skills include: SummarizingSalesPersuasionProviding anecdotes to illustrate a pointHumorTrainingRehearsingDesigning handoutsRecognizing and countering objectionsPosing probing questions to elicit more detail about specific issuesAwareness of ethnic, political, and religious diversity Receiving criticism without defensivenessRefraining from speaking too often or interrupting othersAnticipating the concerns of othersProduct knowledgeSWOT analysis formatSupporting statements with evidenceMultilingualContractsWorking with reviewersConsistencyDeveloping and maintaining standard operating procedures (SOPs)Developing a proposition statementCreativityLogicCreating and managing expectationsMotivationCoaching How To Make Your Skills Stand Out Include skills on your resume. If applicable, you might mention these words in your resume summary or headline. Highlight skills in your cover letter. Mention one or two specific presentation skills and give examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits in the workplace. Show your presentation skills in job interviews. During the interview process, you may be asked to give a sample presentation. In this case, you will want to embody these skills during the presentation. For example, you will want to demonstrate your oral communication skills by speaking clearly and concisely throughout the presentation. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. PennState. "Steps in Preparing a Presentation." Harvard Division of Continuing Education. "10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills." Northern Illinois University. "Delivering the Presentation."