Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve happened to come across a much larger than usual group of people who are quite simply unable or perhaps unwilling to present themselves and their product or service to me in a positive light. Well, in any light at all as it turns out. And it’s got me thinking.
Is it the online world we live and work in for so many more hours a day that’s caused this inability to communicate face to face? Or could it be more to do with the individual and their current circumstances?
Let me give you some examples of what I mean.
For 10 days or so, I’ve been interacting with a gen Y real estate representative on what, for both of us, is a pretty important sale. He is polite and quick to respond via email but, when we meet he appears disinterested and bored. On the first occasion (where appearances definitely do count) he arrived late and proceeded to waste a further fifteen minutes searching for a key (that he couldn’t find) and another five minutes searching his iPhone for a door code. By this time we’d wasted more than thirty minutes of mine and my colleague’s time yet, when we were all finally where we needed to be, he made no attempt to communicate and engage us, let alone try to determine what we wanted out of the meeting.
He left our meeting uninformed and unable to rank us in terms of interest, influence and purchasing power and we left annoyed. I was quite shocked that he left us without getting a good, or indeed any, idea of our need. Nor did he attempt to determine how serious we were. How can he possibly plan his time and any future approaches without this information?
I could go on and on – in fact, this scenario would make a great case study, but the fact is that, after three separate attempts to meet with him, it became clear to me that he was quite simply unable to communicate – at least in the business environment in which we found ourselves. He didn’t even have the communication basics let alone the ability to present with impact and make the sale!
I came across this same lack of ability with two mature age professionals that I’m currently coaching in support of their studies in the Diploma of HRM. I was working with both of them, assisting them to prepare for job interviews. I had been working with both of them for around twelve months as they completed their studies so I knew both of them to be smart, work savvy and innovative. One was employed as a talent manager for a large hotel chain while the other was a recruitment manager.
Both were hoping to progress their careers into senior HR Management positions, but as we started to work through the basics I realised that they too were struggling with their communication skills as well as any ability to present with impact. Unfortunately for them, and despite our reliance online, the decision to recruit a senior manager is still done most often in face-to-face interviews and, more often than not there is an expectation for some sort of ‘presentation’.
In an ideal interview situation, you would plan to spend the presentation time allocated wowing the panel and selling yourself as well as your skills and knowledge.To do this you need to not only have the requisite skills and knowledge to do the job but, you also need to have that personal charisma, the ability to present yourself and your skills/knowledge in such a way that you can convince them you’re the one for the job. You stand out from the crowd with a well prepared and rehearsed presentation that plays to your strengths and engages everyone else in the room as well.
The final example I want to share with you involves a presentation made by another group of mainly gen Y managers to a funding review panel that I was a member of. The panel was in the final stages of agreeing which projects would be supported in the last quarter of 2014. There were 6 projects shortlisted for 3 funded places. All shortlisted projects had been rigorously interrogated and all were assessed as worthy recipients of the funding. The final decision came down to this presentation.
Each of the shortlisted projects were invited to present for 20 minutes and face questions from the panel for a further 20 minutes. Each project representative was aware of the importance of the presentation and all had been notified four weeks in advance of the meeting to allow maximum time for planning and preparation. For a number of them, the success or failure of this project presentation meant employment (or not) for their staff in the lead up to Christmas. It was a big decision with an awful lot riding on it for those managers involved.
I probably don’t need to go on. I’m sure you’ve a good idea what’s coming!
Indeed of the six presentations that day, only two were standout performances. A further two were tolerable while the last two were appalling, presenting with seemingly no preparation or practice and with no idea what we the panel wanted to hear. Needless to say, we only awarded funding to two projects instead of the three planned for.
So, what went wrong? Well, the presenters lacked basic communication skills for a start and, just as seriously, they made little or no attempt to plan their presentation. They didn’t do their homework, so they didn’t address the how, what, when, where and why of a winning presentation. They weren’t confident (which made us wonder how well they actually understood their project) in their presentation and they didn’t sell it to us. They couldn’t answer the questions we asked for example the WIIFM (what’s in it for me!) and so they left us uninspired, demotivated and unwilling to release substantial company funds for the project to go ahead.
If you want to get ahead, make a sale, influence your boss, win a project or even win a job then you must have well developed communication skills as well as the ability to present your ideas with impact.
The ability to communicate and present yourself positively and with impact is a skill that continues to grow in demand as more and more people gain access to jobs, ideas and projects and use various communication channels to sell themselves and their projects/services. In this digital age of instant connections, it is now more important than ever to stand out from the crowd.
Fortunately, CAL has got you covered. If you want to learn how to be a winner with strong communication and presentation skills then register NOW for our online short courses that you can do anytime.
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Contact CAL on 1300 907 870 or email us at [email protected]