Six key signs of a quality presentation skills course
Nick Williams gives us advice on what to look for in a good presentation course.
Being good with people and a natural communicator is a great head-start when it comes to making a presentation but to truly be effective in leading, motivating and inspiring your audience, you need a bit more. The good news is that there are lots of courses that can help to equip you with presentation skills but choosing the right one can be difficult.
Here’s a look at what key signs to look out for when trying to find a high-quality presentation skills course that will leave you feeling confident and bursting with knowledge.
Every good presentation skills course should include a section on body language, even though this might not be the first thing that you look for. In between constructing what you want to say, trying to engage your audience and then practicing projecting your voice, it can be easy to forget about the other, less technical aspects of your delivery.
Body language plays a huge part in how successful you will be, but for most people, it’s something that they rarely - if ever - consider. To be effective in delivering a presentation, you’ll need to first be aware of your body language: how you stand, use your hands and where you direct your gaze, just for starters.
You can have the most interesting content but if your body language is introverted and passive, you’ll struggle to hold the audience’s interest. There’s body language techniques that the best politicians and public speakers use which subconsciously draw the audience in and provide an instant impact.
The chance to practise
Listening to theory may be very useful but unless you have the chance to practice what you’ve been taught, you won’t retain the information. Role-play, group activities and interactive sessions are all vital for you to try out the strategies and techniques that you’re hearing about.
Some people might instantly recoil at the thought of role-playing, but without it, you won’t get as much out of the course. Overcoming your apprehension and booking a presentation course that allows you to try out your newly-acquired skills is a vital part of a quality learning experience.
The use of technology
The best presentation skills courses will back up the learning with technology, rather than just giving handouts or using class-based activities. Look for online sessions, distance learning or other uses of technology to provide you with different ways of absorbing the information, and refreshing your knowledge when you need to.
The course should also cover how you use technology in your presentations; not using technology at all could lead to your audience switching off but using it too much could detract from the actual content. The key is to use technology in a way which complements your presentation and adds value. A good course will explain how to achieve this.
Anyone can repeat information that they’ve read elsewhere, but instructors and trainers who are experienced in delivering quality presentations themselves will add real value.
When you’re looking for a presentation skills course, don’t just look at the content, take some time to review the people who will be delivering it. Having the opportunity to learn directly from people who have given engaging presentations will be far more useful than simply reading or listening to content that has been compiled based on research.
Sitting and listening to trainers will quickly get boring, so look for a course that has lots of different types of content. Personal coaching, feedback from trainers, the chance to ask questions and workshop-style sessions will provide a far more useful way of learning, and you’ll gain far more than simply listening and taking notes./p>
Handling the audience
Scripting your presentation, body language and how you use your voice are all integral to delivering a good session but the one variable that you have no control over is the audience. Depending on the size of the group that you are delivering to, you could receive a serious grilling from people who are trying to catch you out or test the extent of your knowledge.
A good presentations skills course won’t just equip you with the means to create an effective speech, but will also help you to devise strategies to handle tricky audiences. This starts with the psychology of presentations, and by considering every question to be a new opportunity rather than a potential banana skin, and how to achieve this mindset and respond accordingly.
At times, this might mean being honest enough to admit you don’t know the answer, but it’s learning how to convey this response in a manner that allows you to remain authoritative and in control.
No matter what industry you work in, there may come a time when you need to deliver a presentation. The skills to do this and to be as effective as possible need to be learned, no matter how naturally communication comes to you. The above points should all be considered and looked for when booking a presentation skills course to be sure you’re getting the information that will be the most useful.
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Nick Williams works at Acuity Training, who provide hands-on instructor led training from their two UK offices.
Nick assists on multiple management and leadership courses from either of Acuity Training’s London or Surrey training centres.