3 Ways Your Presentation Skills Can Make or Break Your Career header image

3 Ways Your Presentation Skills Can Make or Break Your Career

2016-2017 Professional Development Planning

3 Ways Your Presentation Skills Can Make or Break Your Career

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I’ve seen it hundreds of times over the last 20 years…

A very confident and capable employee gets promoted into a leadership role.

And it makes sense on the surface. They’re smart.  They have a ton of experience and all the employees seem to like them. Then it happens… the new manager soon comes to realize that it’s no longer their personal performance that’s determining things like raises and glowing evaluations.  It’s their ability to accomplish important things through others.

Now, their old friends don’t look at them quite the same way.  They’re management now.  And this new role means having to stand in front of those familiar faces and communicate to them as a confident leader.

#1 – People are watching those who lead them closer than ever. 

Do they pick up on the new managers discomfort in their new role because of eyes that seem to dart around the room – looking for the right words?  Or maybe it’s the momentary stumbling over a top-down message they’ve been told to communicate from upper management.

Make no mistake about it, a lack of perceived confidence in their new role will only embolden voices of descent or create uncertainty.  Good leaders need to be great communicators.


The unexpected presentation.

A manager thought they were just going to be watching their boss present that morning. Then with no preparation or notice, they hear those gut-wrenching words… “I need for you to take this morning’s presentation.” It doesn’t really matter if it was a test or just a bad breakfast burrito – there will be no other choice than to step up.

#2 – Our lives are full of unplanned presentation moments… would you be ready?

Feeling unprepared is a horrible experience. Our heart rate accelerates to the stratosphere as our minds try to wrap themselves around what just happened. And if we’re not completely comfortable with the content, this trifecta of uncertainty has caused many a presenter to deliver the worst presentation of their lives in what is often a pivotal moment in their careers.

Much like emergency responders fall back on their training in the face of crisis, so must presenters fall back on theirs . What’s your game plan?  Do you even have one?

Videotaped coaching allows you to build a meaningful toolkit of go-to skills when you haven’t had time to plan or prepare. But why videotaping? Two reasons; it adds an element of important stress testing and gives you that important view from your audience’s eyes.  Unplanned presentations can and will happen.


In a tie, the prize always goes to the best communicator.

Years back we had a coach on our team that had been a mid-level manager at adidas.  And in her role there, she was constantly presenting to other teams and was very, very good at it.  One day she mentioned how surprised she always was when she would receive job offers for roles she was clearly not qualified for.  Why was that happening?  Because her powerfully confident and credible communication style sent messages way beyond just her words.

#3 – Personal communication skills are the ultimate tie breaker

Interested in elevating that next performance evaluation?  Maybe get a shot at that new position that just opened up?  Being a reasonably good presenter is no longer just a nice skill to work on if you have a little time – it will always be the most powerful tie-breaker you will experience in your career.


You should probably be asking an important question right about now. Since you guys are in the business, aren’t you just drinking your own kool-aid around the importance of being a good presenter?

When you meet as many employees, managers and executives as we do over the course of the year, you see these three scenarios played out time and time again.  Bright new stars rise in organizations because they communicate so well.  Or sadly, we also watch as careers seem to falter because of a manager’s apprehension about presenting.

How will you invest your precious time and money in skill building this next year?  Your answer to that question may well impact you in ways you had never imagined.