Every day, 50 new job postings show up in my inbox.
No, I’m not in the market for a job. I get Talkwalker alerts on Presentation Skills because I’m fascinated by what other people are saying and writing about the ability to speak in front of an audience.
When I asked for those alerts, I expected articles, white papers, blog posts. But what I mostly get is job listings. Lots and lots of job listings. Because it turns out the people who do the hiring for almost anything want, expect, and even demand good presentation skills.
What jumps out at me is this. They want, expect, and demand strong presentation skills for positions that we might not automatically associate with strong presentation skills.
We’d expect a job in sales to require a person to speak well. Or maybe a management position. Or a corporate training gig. And they of course they do.
But employers also insist on excellent presentation skills for software developers, medical safety specialists, research managers, systems engineers, logistics specialists, graphic designers … it goes on and on.
That means if a person is looking for a job. Or a consulting assignment. Or a professional services engagement. It behooves them to be very good at connecting with an audience and expressing themselves with confidence and clarity.
I have a couple of thoughts about that. (You’re not surprised, are you?)
First – for a skill that’s in seemingly universal demand, people are surprisingly reluctant to invest their time, energy and money into getting better at it. I don’t know for sure what holds them back; do you? Maybe they really don’t understand how important it is. Maybe they think “good enough” really is good enough. Or maybe it’s just fear.
And – I think there’s a bit of a misunderstanding. “Presentation skills” is convenient shorthand; we know what it means. But I’m convinced people really want something bigger than that. It’s not just about presentation; it’s about Presence.
Presentation skills are about what you do at the front of the room. Presence is about how you be with your audience. Being trumps doing.
Yes, it matters how you stand, what you do with your hands, whether you’re speaking loudly and clearly enough for everyone in the room to hear you. All those things count. But the most important thing is whether you’re fully, completely there.
When it comes to speaking about your work, you must be Present to win.
I heard a panel of people who hire speakers telling an audience of speakers wanting to be hired that the days of the perfect, polished, professional presentation are over.
The emphasis now is on interaction and engagement. That’s what meeting planners want, they told us, when they put a speaker on stage at a conference or association meeting. And some very successful “old-school” speakers are beginning to find themselves in less demand as a result.
This talk about a shift in the speaking business was music to my ears; audience interaction and engagement are among my best things. And, I see implications for people who are not professional speakers and don’t want to be.
If you talk about your work in a departmental meeting, at a networking event or in a sales call, you are a speaker. You need those “strong presentation skills.”
And even more than that, you need the Presence to create a connection with your audience. The kind of connection that leads to engagement and interaction. Which in turn lead to people saying yes.
Yes to your idea. Yes to your product or service. Yes … to you.
Tell us how you get people to say, “Yes.”