It’s Time to take Presentation Training Seriously

by | Nov 11, 2021 | Eyeful Training

It’s unlikely to come as much of a surprise that communication is deemed crucial in business. A quick Google throws up all manner of stats to support this far from ground-breaking hypothesis. But, perhaps the most alarming is this simple fact:

“Communicating well is the one critical skill that 91% of employees said their leaders lack”

(Interact/Harris)
91%!

If we agree that communication is a prerequisite for leaders, more than nine in every ten do not have the skills to do their job effectively. It’s akin to overlooking a CFO’s inability to understand numbers or having a Chief People Officer scared of people. Completely nonsensical, but it’s happening.

You may have spotted the signs in your own business. Are you on the receiving end of verbose communication that leaves everyone confused (apart from the leader, that is)? Perhaps your business operates in a constant hum of management speak that sounds impressive but delivers little to no outcome (our hint – either embrace the madness by creating your own Management Speak Bingo or be part of the solution).

Is Pure Training The Solution? Probably Not…

Of course, the team at Eyeful have long played our part in helping improve the quality of business communication through our range of presentation skills training services. However, if we’re brutally honest with ourselves, these presentation training programmes are merely scratching the surface. Yes, we can kick start an improvement in the quality of communication and, through ongoing coaching, sustain the new standard until it becomes habit, but these upgrades tend to be in pockets. Also, it curiously seems that certain divisions within a business ‘luck out’ and get the investment in presentation training (sales teams, marketing teams, and investor comms teams are regular visitors to the Presentation Campus, internal comms, finance and the C-Suite less so).

You shouldn’t have to be a salesperson with a quota to qualify for training in a skill deemed imperative by everyone around you. Something fundamental needs to change, and we think we may have the answer:

Investing in the Fundamentals: Competency Frameworks

OK – granted, this may not seem the most radical idea, but do presentation and communication skills currently play a part in your measurement of competency within your organisation? We’re not talking about an anecdotal ‘they’re decent enough on their feet’ type measurement or squeezing a generic ‘off the shelf’ presentation module into a leadership programme. The crisis in the quality of senior communication cannot be assuaged by employing old pearls of wisdom like ‘don’t put your hands in your pockets’ or following the latest LinkedIn fads[SM2] .

No, we mean measuring specific and essential communication skills – storytelling, outcome-based presenting, physical presence, effectiveness in live/online/hybrid environments. We need to ensure that the competency standards are set at each rung of the ladder to be assessed as part of people’s ongoing personal development and their journey through an organisation.

Getting there doesn’t have to be complex, but it does require clarity of thought and commitment from the top of the business (who also happen to be those in most dire need of it according to the stats). So as a starting point, we’d recommend sharing these three points at your next people development meeting:

  1. What do good communication and presentation skills look like at each level within our business? Are these documented?
  2. How do we measure these? Do we have a culture that will do something tangible with these measurements (identify training needs and address them before they become an issue further down the line)?
  3. How do we sustain the quality? Running discrete training sessions will only get you so far, so a continuous programme of training, measurement and reinforcement is required to ensure competency across the business.

Of course, talk is cheap, so the Eyeful training team can play a part in supporting these initial discussions and sharing our experience of how presentation cultures can be overhauled by introducing communication-specific competency frameworks.

Large or small, leaders and L&D teams need to not only understand the value of communication but also set standards throughout their organisations to ensure that everyone is delivering as required. Failure to do so put them at risk of staying as one of the dreaded 91%.

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