These days, schoolchildren and university students are often set assignments to be presented to their peers, teachers or tutors. This is an eminently good thing, as the Presentation forms a very important part of business at all levels. As with any 'performances', they can be well or disastrously given and will be mercilessly scored by audiences. At their best, the speaker gets the audience's attention, builds a good rapport, clearly outlines and fills in the subject matter, summarises concisely and answers queries and objections with precision. At the other end of the scale, the presenter leaves the listeners bored, frustrated, irritated and, worst of all, confused.
In the business context, presenters who score poorly fit into different categories. They may just be nervous and uncomfortable standing up and delivering information - even though they know their subject matter. Others are over-enthusiastic, speak too quickly, maybe relying too heavily on technology, or, shamefully poorly prepared and mumbling. Perhaps worst of all is what happens in places like Cambridge. Individuals from hi-tech and biotech start-ups, experts in their specific field, can come across as woefully ineffective communicators when they do elevator pitches to Venture Capitalists for vital funding. They needlessly waste this one-off opportunity to get their message powerfully and succinctly across to the VCs (who are not specialists in their sector) by being insufficiently prepared, using jargon, convoluted explanations and even over-running their time limit.
Whether it is a formal presentation as part of a job interview, sharing information during an inter-departmental meeting, as a speaker at a conference or delivering that critical elevator pitch to potential investors: all these presenters can easily be coached into being competent and professional performers.
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