August 9, 2021

Real-world problems with presentation skills trainings

Setup: Let's imagine you are the executive, the HR, or the L&D person in an organization...

You either initiate or you are being asked to do a training for a team(s) on "presentation skills". Okay, so far, so good. Here is where I don't understand something:

A side but important note: Some organizations do all of the below three right and they extract a ton of benefits out of their training programs. Kudos for the great planning and work to all of you! Really! You are the exceptions to the rule and maybe this post is not for you! 

Problem #1 - When "presentation skills" means how the presentation is delivered

You want to train your employees on "presentation skills" and that's great! The problem is the definition of "presentation skills". Many organizations approach our team at 356labs with similar requests and then when we talk with them we find out that they consider "presentation skills" the skills you need when you are already on stage(or nowadays in front of the camera) - everything around body language, handling questions, the overall delivery. These are important set of skills. No doubt about it. However, if you look carefully into what made that last presentation that impressed you that good, it's actually not only the way the speaker delivered it. It's what he or she said. It's also how their slides were designed. These two are completely different "presentation skills" and if you want your people to be able to prepare and deliver truly effective presentations, you need to get them trained on those topics as well.

Problem #2 - Your teams are communicating virtually yet they are not trained in the specifics of that modality

Say what? Your people are now presenting virtually and most of their presentations and communication go through Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, Zoom, or similar? Well, yes. And because they are and because they will continue to be, you need to add to the above two (what they are saying = storytelling, how their slides look = presentation design), a third topic in your presentation skills training agenda - the specifics of virtual presentations. In a course like that they will learn not only how to readapt their stories, design, and delivery to this new reality but maybe even a few new tools like Prezi Video and how they can stay up to date with all of the latest technologies and features all of those companies are providing. Of course, without them losing any time on it. You didn't think I would advice you to train your team on something that will make them less productive, do you?

Problem #3 - Your people are busy and you seem to forget that

That gets me every time. You organized a training for your teams considering all of the above and you selected the topics they need to be trained on (based on their experience, previous courses they went through, etc.). Congrats! Now please, please, please: 

Step 1: Free up their calendars or ask them to free their calendars or both! I know we are all busy and I am sure you and your employees are. I understand that. However, you are on your way to invest thousands of euros, dollars, <fill-in-your-currency-here>, but you also want them to come to this training in their busiest moment of the year or to be replying and stay involved in their work as this training doesn't exist? Come on, let's finish the great work you started. Make that final push and make sure they have the ability and the support from you to dedicate themselves only to the training initiative.

Step 2: When you then ask them then to create a presentation applying all they learnt, talk with them how much time they would need. It will shock you how many of the attendees of our trainings truly want to do their best and do that super crucial presentation on a top level and yet, its just one more assignment on top of everything. That's not how it's going to work! You need to understand that for them to do a truly effective presentation, they need time. They don't have it though(you know it!) and so please communicate it together and see what can be deprioritized so that this "task" gets done on the level you expect it.

And that's that. Hopefully, if you are the decision-maker for the training project that made you think or reconsider the upcoming presentation skills training.

And if you are the employee and you are reading this for some reason(maybe your recognized yourself in it?), maybe that's a post you can share with the person that runs your training initiatives or at least mention that "you have read somewhere that it's not a bad idea to...yada-yada". You know what I mean.

Thanks, good luck and if you are on the look for a training that will truly change the way your people present, let us at 356labs know too.

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