Skills Spotlight: Giving a presentation

By Chris Littlewood

3 minute read

I am not a natural public speaker.

The first time I gave a formal presentation (it was on my research as a new PhD student, to a group of perhaps 20) I had assumed that since I knew my subject, I’d know what to say.  I prepared slides (in those days using sheets of transparent acetate and colourful felt-tip pens), and flipped through them on the train to London. When I stood up at the front of the lecture theatre, words and thoughts dried up, eventually spluttering out in barely-connected gobbets.  I remember the light of the overhead projector mercifully blinding me to the audience’s response.

At the end of what must have been 5 minutes (in which I’d “delivered” my 20 minute talk), someone asked a question - clearly designed to be easy to answer and to help me recover composure. But by that stage I was broken, my thoughts scrambled, and all I could manage was, "I don’t know"

At this point you are probably starting to wonder whether I’m the right person to come to for help with your presentation skills. But before you leave the room, let me share two things:

Firstly, although I’m still far from great at public speaking, I’ve built skills and learned tactics that mean I’m okay at it. I can give my audience something useful and hopefully memorable. Importantly for me, I can do it without fear (well, without mortal terror).

Secondly, I have Content Intelligence to find and understand resources (effectively and like lightning) that help me.

SKILLS SPOTLIGHT is our  series where we dive deep into a different skill based on the insights generated by our Content Intelligence tech and skills framework projects with our clients.

Skill definition

Our Skills Palette definition of Giving a presentation is:

Delivering a talk to an audience in a way that holds attention and gets a message across.

Adjacent skills

As usual, considering adjacent skills can give pointers when curating content, and specifically when building a playlist. We can find these adjacent skills using real-world data from Content Intelligence.

Running this exercise for Giving a presentation emphasises the importance of storytelling and emotional intelligence to connecting with your audience, and reminds us that there are skills that can be employed in the wings of the presentation itself to increase its impact - managing nerves and small talk for example.

Note: We unpack the Filtered definition of skills in a bit more detail here.

A playlist for "Giving a presentation:

Using Content Intelligence, I can quickly filter, understand and select content to build a playlist that will build and bolster my presentation skills.  Algorithmic enhancement of the content metadata with skill relevance means I’m focused on all the relevant content – and only the relevant content – from within a library of 100,000s of assets.

Here’s the playlist I built in five minutes in CI, and included here with two clicks.

I particularly like that I was able to start the playlist with the focus on the audience. This is also a tip I’ve had from Donald Taylor, who we’re lucky enough to have advise us on Filtered’s Board.  If you remember, the presentation is about giving your audience something of value, it makes it less about their opinion of you and so less stressful.

The other asset that resonated was the HBR article on rehearsal. I used to think memorising lines and rehearsing emphasis was somehow cheating – that it meant I wasn’t doing it authentically.  Until I learned how much time Steve Jobs spent in advance of his Apple product launches, and the degree to which they were planned.

How Content Intelligence simplifies this process

Our Content Intelligence solution helps your team make data-driven learning content procurement and curation decisions.

We evaluate content libraries against an objective skills framework for your organisation.

Content Intelligence turns skill definitions into lists of accurately tagged content that reads the content itself – not just the title. The expertise that allows one curator to select 10 of the best pieces of content for a skill is scaled to 100,000 assets from the world’s leading websites and content libraries.

The technology comes pre-programmed with 100 skills in eight key capability areas, or you can add skills from your own framework, which we can help you design. You then choose your focus skills and the content vendors you want to include. The system instantly analyses the relevance of those vendor libraries and every asset within them against every skill.

Stay tuned for our next instalment of the SKILLS SPOTLIGHT.

While you are waiting, let’s have a quick 15-minute chat about how Filtered can help get the best return on your L&D spend by filtering the right content for the skills your people really need.

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