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Powerful and Effective Presentation Skills: More in Demand Now Than Ever

hbr business presentation

When we talk with our L&D colleagues from around the globe, we often hear that presentation skills training is one of the top opportunities they’re looking to provide their learners. And this holds true whether their learners are individual contributors, people managers, or senior leaders. This is not surprising.

Effective communications skills are a powerful career activator, and most of us are called upon to communicate in some type of formal presentation mode at some point along the way.

For instance, you might be asked to brief management on market research results, walk your team through a new process, lay out the new budget, or explain a new product to a client or prospect. Or you may want to build support for a new idea, bring a new employee into the fold, or even just present your achievements to your manager during your performance review.

And now, with so many employees working from home or in hybrid mode, and business travel in decline, there’s a growing need to find new ways to make effective presentations when the audience may be fully virtual or a combination of in person and remote attendees.

Whether you’re making a standup presentation to a large live audience, or a sit-down one-on-one, whether you’re delivering your presentation face to face or virtually, solid presentation skills matter.

Even the most seasoned and accomplished presenters may need to fine-tune or update their skills. Expectations have changed over the last decade or so. Yesterday’s PowerPoint which primarily relied on bulleted points, broken up by the occasional clip-art image, won’t cut it with today’s audience.

The digital revolution has revolutionized the way people want to receive information. People expect presentations that are more visually interesting. They expect to see data, metrics that support assertions. And now, with so many previously in-person meetings occurring virtually, there’s an entirely new level of technical preparedness required.

The leadership development tools and the individual learning opportunities you’re providing should include presentation skills training that covers both the evergreen fundamentals and the up-to-date capabilities that can make or break a presentation.

So, just what should be included in solid presentation skills training? Here’s what I think.

The fundamentals will always apply When it comes to making a powerful and effective presentation, the fundamentals will always apply. You need to understand your objective. Is it strictly to convey information, so that your audience’s knowledge is increased? Is it to persuade your audience to take some action? Is it to convince people to support your idea? Once you understand what your objective is, you need to define your central message. There may be a lot of things you want to share with your audience during your presentation, but find – and stick with – the core, the most important point you want them to walk away with. And make sure that your message is clear and compelling.

You also need to tailor your presentation to your audience. Who are they and what might they be expecting? Say you’re giving a product pitch to a client. A technical team may be interested in a lot of nitty-gritty product detail. The business side will no doubt be more interested in what returns they can expect on their investment.

Another consideration is the setting: is this a formal presentation to a large audience with questions reserved for the end, or a presentation in a smaller setting where there’s the possibility for conversation throughout? Is your presentation virtual or in-person? To be delivered individually or as a group? What time of the day will you be speaking? Will there be others speaking before you and might that impact how your message will be received?

Once these fundamentals are established, you’re in building mode. What are the specific points you want to share that will help you best meet your objective and get across your core message? Now figure out how to convey those points in the clearest, most straightforward, and succinct way. This doesn’t mean that your presentation has to be a series of clipped bullet points. No one wants to sit through a presentation in which the presenter reads through what’s on the slide. You can get your points across using stories, fact, diagrams, videos, props, and other types of media.

Visual design matters While you don’t want to clutter up your presentation with too many visual elements that don’t serve your objective and can be distracting, using a variety of visual formats to convey your core message will make your presentation more memorable than slides filled with text. A couple of tips: avoid images that are cliched and overdone. Be careful not to mix up too many different types of images. If you’re using photos, stick with photos. If you’re using drawn images, keep the style consistent. When data are presented, stay consistent with colors and fonts from one type of chart to the next. Keep things clear and simple, using data to support key points without overwhelming your audience with too much information. And don’t assume that your audience is composed of statisticians (unless, of course, it is).

When presenting qualitative data, brief videos provide a way to engage your audience and create emotional connection and impact. Word clouds are another way to get qualitative data across.

Practice makes perfect You’ve pulled together a perfect presentation. But it likely won’t be perfect unless it’s well delivered. So don’t forget to practice your presentation ahead of time. Pro tip: record yourself as you practice out loud. This will force you to think through what you’re going to say for each element of your presentation. And watching your recording will help you identify your mistakes—such as fidgeting, using too many fillers (such as “umm,” or “like”), or speaking too fast.

A key element of your preparation should involve anticipating any technical difficulties. If you’ve embedded videos, make sure they work. If you’re presenting virtually, make sure that the lighting is good, and that your speaker and camera are working. Whether presenting in person or virtually, get there early enough to work out any technical glitches before your presentation is scheduled to begin. Few things are a bigger audience turn-off than sitting there watching the presenter struggle with the delivery mechanisms!

Finally, be kind to yourself. Despite thorough preparation and practice, sometimes, things go wrong, and you need to recover in the moment, adapt, and carry on. It’s unlikely that you’ll have caused any lasting damage and the important thing is to learn from your experience, so your next presentation is stronger.

How are you providing presentation skills training for your learners?

Manika Gandhi is Senior Learning Design Manager at Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning. Email her at [email protected] .

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Presenting to an Audience of Experts

Giving a presentation can be nerve-racking—especially if your audience knows the topic better than you. But you can share your knowledge while also sharing the forum with those with greater experience. Here’s how to deliver a credible and engaging presentation to subject matter experts. Embrace self-affirmation. When presenting to experts, it’s normal to feel intimidated. But […]

Giving a presentation can be nerve-racking—especially if your audience knows the topic better than you. But you can share your knowledge while also sharing the forum with those with greater experience. Here’s how to deliver a credible and engaging presentation to subject matter experts.

Source: This tip is adapted from “How to Present to an Audience That Knows More Than You,” by Deborah Grayson Riegel

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HBR: What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation

These tips are for business professionals who are already comfortable with giving presentations—and may even be admired for their skills—but who, nonetheless, want to excel..

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I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives — the flash memory that stores data on smartphones, digital cameras, and computers. He was a frequent guest on CNBC and had been delivering business presentations for at least 20 years before we met. And yet, the CEO wanted to sharpen his public speaking skills.

“You’re very successful. You’re considered a good speaker. Why do you feel as though you need to improve?” I asked.

“I can always get better,” he responded. “Every point up or down in our share price means billions of dollars in our company’s valuation. How well I communicate makes a big difference.”

Read more...

Presentations 101

By: John Clayton

Inexperienced presenters make two kinds of mistakes: the intelligent kind that all of us must work through, and the kind that is so obvious that you just shake your head in disbelief. Herewith a…

  • Length: 2 page(s)
  • Publication Date: Nov 1, 2000
  • Discipline: Organizational Behavior
  • Product #: C0011B-PDF-ENG

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Inexperienced presenters make two kinds of mistakes: the intelligent kind that all of us must work through, and the kind that is so obvious that you just shake your head in disbelief. Herewith a guide for navigating those presentation pitfalls.

Nov 1, 2000

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Organizational Behavior

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HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations (HBR Guide Series)

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HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations (HBR Guide Series) MP3 CD – Unabridged, August 9, 2016

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (August 9, 2016)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
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  • #2,339 in Business Writing Skills (Books)
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Nancy duarte.

Nancy Duarte is a communication expert who has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Wired, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Economist, LA Times and on CNN.

As the storyteller of the Silicon Valley, and 5th largest woman-owned employer there, her firm, Duarte, Inc., is the global leader behind some of the most influential messages in business and culture.

Since 1988, Duarte works with global companies and thought leaders, influencing how the world perceives some of the most important brands and entities, including Apple, AT&T, Cisco, Facebook, GE, Google, HP, Qualcomm, Salesforce, Target, TED, Twitter, Virgin, VMWare, and the World Bank.

Nancy has been a keynote speaker on numerous public stages and her firm counts almost 200 of the Fortune 500 among her firm's clientele. Nancy also speaks at business schools and lectures at Stanford University and UC Berkeley.

Nancy is the author of three bestselling books. Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, which identifies the hidden story structures inherent in great communication, spent more than 300 days on Amazon's top 100 business book bestsellers list. Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations teaches readers to think visually and has been translated into eight languages. The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations gives readers the tools and confidence they need to master public speaking. Illuminate helps leaders use empathy to create a communication plan that helps teams be motivated to drive change.

Nancy has three grown children who walk in their destiny, a husband who has loved her for, like, ever, and two grand kids that take her breath away.

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Gagarin Cup Preview: Atlant vs. Salavat Yulaev

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Share All sharing options for: Gagarin Cup Preview: Atlant vs. Salavat Yulaev

Gagarin cup (khl) finals:  atlant moscow oblast vs. salavat yulaev ufa.

Much like the Elitserien Finals, we have a bit of an offense vs. defense match-up in this league Final.  While Ufa let their star top line of Alexander Radulov, Patrick Thoresen and Igor Grigorenko loose on the KHL's Western Conference, Mytischi played a more conservative style, relying on veterans such as former NHLers Jan Bulis, Oleg Petrov, and Jaroslav Obsut.  Just reaching the Finals is a testament to Atlant's disciplined style of play, as they had to knock off much more high profile teams from Yaroslavl and St. Petersburg to do so.  But while they did finish 8th in the league in points, they haven't seen the likes of Ufa, who finished 2nd. 

This series will be a challenge for the underdog, because unlike some of the other KHL teams, Ufa's top players are generally younger and in their prime.  Only Proshkin amongst regular blueliners is over 30, with the work being shared by Kirill Koltsov (28), Andrei Kuteikin (26), Miroslav Blatak (28), Maxim Kondratiev (28) and Dmitri Kalinin (30).  Oleg Tverdovsky hasn't played a lot in the playoffs to date.  Up front, while led by a fairly young top line (24-27), Ufa does have a lot of veterans in support roles:  Vyacheslav Kozlov , Viktor Kozlov , Vladimir Antipov, Sergei Zinovyev and Petr Schastlivy are all over 30.  In fact, the names of all their forwards are familiar to international and NHL fans:  Robert Nilsson , Alexander Svitov, Oleg Saprykin and Jakub Klepis round out the group, all former NHL players.

For Atlant, their veteran roster, with only one of their top six D under the age of 30 (and no top forwards under 30, either), this might be their one shot at a championship.  The team has never won either a Russian Superleague title or the Gagarin Cup, and for players like former NHLer Oleg Petrov, this is probably the last shot at the KHL's top prize.  The team got three extra days rest by winning their Conference Final in six games, and they probably needed to use it.  Atlant does have younger regulars on their roster, but they generally only play a few shifts per game, if that. 

The low event style of game for Atlant probably suits them well, but I don't know how they can manage to keep up against Ufa's speed, skill, and depth.  There is no advantage to be seen in goal, with Erik Ersberg and Konstantin Barulin posting almost identical numbers, and even in terms of recent playoff experience Ufa has them beat.  Luckily for Atlant, Ufa isn't that far away from the Moscow region, so travel shouldn't play a major role. 

I'm predicting that Ufa, winners of the last Superleague title back in 2008, will become the second team to win the Gagarin Cup, and will prevail in five games.  They have a seriously well built team that would honestly compete in the NHL.  They represent the potential of the league, while Atlant represents closer to the reality, as a team full of players who played themselves out of the NHL. 

  • Atlant @ Ufa, Friday Apr 8 (3:00 PM CET/10:00 PM EST)
  • Atlant @ Ufa, Sunday Apr 10 (1:00 PM CET/8:00 AM EST)
  • Ufa @ Atlant, Tuesday Apr 12 (5:30 PM CET/12:30 PM EST)
  • Ufa @ Atlant, Thursday Apr 14 (5:30 PM CET/12:30 PM EST)

Games 5-7 are as yet unscheduled, but every second day is the KHL standard, so expect Game 5 to be on Saturday, like an early start. 

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635th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment

635-й зенитно-ракетный полк

Military Unit: 86646

Activated 1953 in Stepanshchino, Moscow Oblast - initially as the 1945th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment for Special Use and from 1955 as the 635th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment for Special Use.

1953 to 1984 equipped with 60 S-25 (SA-1) launchers:

  • Launch area: 55 15 43N, 38 32 13E (US designation: Moscow SAM site E14-1)
  • Support area: 55 16 50N, 38 32 28E
  • Guidance area: 55 16 31N, 38 30 38E

1984 converted to the S-300PT (SA-10) with three independent battalions:

  • 1st independent Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion (Bessonovo, Moscow Oblast) - 55 09 34N, 38 22 26E
  • 2nd independent Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion and HQ (Stepanshchino, Moscow Oblast) - 55 15 31N, 38 32 23E
  • 3rd independent Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion (Shcherbovo, Moscow Oblast) - 55 22 32N, 38 43 33E

Disbanded 1.5.98.

Subordination:

  • 1st Special Air Defence Corps , 1953 - 1.6.88
  • 86th Air Defence Division , 1.6.88 - 1.10.94
  • 86th Air Defence Brigade , 1.10.94 - 1.10.95
  • 86th Air Defence Division , 1.10.95 - 1.5.98

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  3. Powerful and Effective Presentation Skills

    Effective communications skills are a powerful career activator, and most of us are called upon to communicate in some type of formal presentation mode at some point along the way. For instance, you might be asked to brief management on market research results, walk your team through a new process, lay out the new budget, or explain a new ...

  4. Presenting to an Audience of Experts

    Presenting to an Audience of Experts. May 14, 2024. Print. Giving a presentation can be nerve-racking—especially if your audience knows the topic better than you. But you can share your ...

  5. What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation

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  6. HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations

    No matter where you are on the spectrum, this guide will give you the confidence and the tools you need to get results. Written by presentation expert Nancy Duarte, the "HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations" will help you: (1) Win over tough crowds, (2) Organize a coherent narrative, (3) Create powerful messages and visuals, (4) Connect with ...

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  9. HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations

    In the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, you'll learn to win over tough crowds, create powerful messages, and show audiences why your ideas matter to them. Elevating your teams' communication skills has never been easier thanks to the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. It's one of 20 titles on HBR's "Ideas with Impact List ...

  10. PDF Guide to Persuasive Presentations

    Harvard Business Review Guide to Persuasive Presentations page 3 The Basic Presentation Checklist Here's how to prepare and deliver that next speech effectively harvard management communication letter In a perfect world, you would have learned about the presentation months ago. Your personal

  11. HBR: What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation

    HBR: What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation. These tips are for business professionals who are already comfortable with giving presentations—and may even be admired for their skills—but who, nonetheless, want to excel. I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives ...

  12. Presentations 101

    Presentations 101. By: John Clayton. Inexperienced presenters make two kinds of mistakes: the intelligent kind that all of us must work through, and the kind that is so obvious that you just shake your head in disbelief. Herewith a…. Length: 2 page (s) Publication Date: Nov 1, 2000. Discipline: Organizational Behavior. Product #: C0011B-PDF-ENG.

  13. HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations (HBR Guide Series)

    This guide from HBR was concise and well-crafted. Believing this book would take days to read, I was surprised to finish it in an afternoon. I couldn't put it down, which says a lot for a nonfiction. Though the guide contains some "no-s***" recommendations, it has increased the quality of my business presentations, which is exactly what it aims ...

  14. Flag of Elektrostal, Moscow Oblast, Russia : r/vexillology

    Business, Economics, and Finance. GameStop Moderna Pfizer Johnson & Johnson AstraZeneca Walgreens Best Buy Novavax SpaceX Tesla. Crypto

  15. Elektrostal

    Elektrostal. Elektrostal ( Russian: Электроста́ль) is a city in Moscow Oblast, Russia. It is 58 kilometers (36 mi) east of Moscow. As of 2010, 155,196 people lived there.

  16. Gagarin Cup Preview: Atlant vs. Salavat Yulaev

    Much like the Elitserien Finals, we have a bit of an offense vs. defense match-up in this league Final. While Ufa let their star top line of Alexander Radulov, Patrick Thoresen and Igor Grigorenko loose on the KHL's Western Conference, Mytischi played a more conservative style, relying on veterans such as former NHLers Jan Bulis, Oleg Petrov, and Jaroslav Obsut.

  17. 635th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment

    635th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment. 635-й зенитно-ракетный полк. Military Unit: 86646. Activated 1953 in Stepanshchino, Moscow Oblast - initially as the 1945th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment for Special Use and from 1955 as the 635th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment for Special Use. 1953 to 1984 equipped with 60 S-25 (SA-1 ...