10 September 2009

Presentation Skills Are Critical

The ability to stand up in front of a group of people and communicate effectively is a critical professional skill for program managers and other project leaders. It's particularly necessary for military engineers, defense contractors, and leaders in general. I can't say strongly enough how important this is as a matter of professional competence.

For better or worse, PowerPoint is the tool of choice for making presentations. When anyone gives a presentation with dense, complicated, unreadable, illegible and otherwise horrible-horrible-horrible presentation charts, they are demonstrating sheer professional incompetence.

In case you can't tell, I get kinda worked up about this.

For all the time we spend giving and receiving briefings, it's inconceivable to me that honing one's presentation technique is not treated as an important discipline and a core element of professional development. I've even seen professional educators, who brag about their ability to facilitate discussions and interact with audiences, use powerpoint charts that are frankly embarrassingly bad.

This stuff isn't hard. Sure, it's a little bit more work than doing it badly, but once you get the hang of it, it's not bad. Go check out Garr Reynold's Presentation Zen blog for some great examples of how to do it right.


David said...

Dan -- couldn't agree more. As a math and stats teacher at USAFA I stressed that presenting analysis was at least as important as the content. On a separate note, I also stressed that the first 5 letters of 'briefing' are pretty important...there is no such thing as an hour-long briefing, but that's a conversation for another day.

As a math/stats guy, I want to see the meat. This is what I hate the most about powerpoint, it is so easy to add meaningless blather.

Keep up the good work -- I enjoy reading the blog --


alison said...

Yeah, absolutely! Presentation skills is really important. Any professional especially team leaders should have excellent presentation skills as it has a significant impact on how we do our work and the results of our work.