Knowledge vs Presentation Skills

Well the other day I was in a presentation where I had some vendor explain the features of their product which was up for evaluation. The individual taking us through the features and technical details on the usage of the product was indeed highly knowledgeable about the product. When he started explaining the features, initially I thought it was just me who was having a tough time understanding his accent; which had a heavy MTI (Mother Tongue Influence); but after an hour of the session, I was unable to concentrate on what he was saying. As it is we were on a conference call, he was just running through the presentation without taking feedback of whether we understood the topic/feature.

During the break – me and my colleagues shared notes and updated each other on bits and pieces of what he spoke.¬†After the break, we did have several questions through our discussions and the answers were completely off topic. They just didn’t match the question but were related. The speaker also made assumptions about us knowing certain topics and kept saying – “You must be knowing how that works, well this works the same way” while there were no pre-requisites published before the presentation.

This is one of the many experiences I’ve had working for a multinational technology company where I’ve met and spoke to several colleagues that concentrate a lot on their technical skills rather than their communication. They put in efforts to be able to learn and pick up new technical skills without even giving a though to communication and soft skills.

 

An Idea or Piece of Knowledge is worth NOTHING if you aren’t able to express or convey it.

My summary of the entire presentation was that however good we get at our knowledge, if we are not able to express it in the form that is understood by your audience and with a set structure, we fail to grab the attention required by the audience and eventually loose their interest. What eventually happens is that our ideas (however great they might be) end up not getting accepted and lost in translation – or even if they do get accepted using any kind of influence, they really do not survive or are not used up to their potential.

While giving a presentation, we forget to pay attention to the following :

  • If we are being heard clearly (while in person or over a conference call)
  • If the presentation is visible and clear
  • Mention any pre-requisite for the presentation if necessary
  • Never read out the presentation and then try to explain – it just sounds too lame and stupid. There should be hints and keywords on the presentation that needs to be used to explain a particular topic
  • Enhance the visual experience of the presentation but nothing to divert attention
  • Ask questions and keep the audience interacted
  • Speak slowly and clearly (and try to have our accent neutralised)
  • To answer questions effectively, we need to first understand the question and reiterate it in our own words to check if we have understood it correctly
  • Keep a check for time and incase the audience turns over excited and we loose time, we need to remind the audience about the same

Have you attended any presentation and have really enjoyed the experience? What were the things you liked apart from the content that the presenter did that helped you pay attention.

 

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