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Improved Presentation Skills Will Help You Get Better Results!

Outstanding presentation skills distinguish the world best leaders, managers and supervisors. They understand that moving others to action is their primary responsibility. They do that by selling their ideas in their public presentations. And, just remember this. All presentations are public.

The July 7, 2003 issue of BusinessWeek magazine reported the results a survey to 173 managers asking which two work-related activities made them most uncomfortable. Speaking to large audiences was # 3 on the list (#1 "Building relationships with people I dislike" and #2 "Asking for a raise"). 

The best way to overcoming the fear of giving a presentation to a larger audience is to learn and then practice presentation skills over and over again. Remember: every great presenter your can think of started out as a beginner.

Developing improved presentation skills is a commanding feature in some of the world's leading management training programs.  I recommend to my management training students that they join a local Toastmasters group -- one of the better ways practice presentation skills and network. In my training sessions I tell my students to view all presentations as public presentations. They should apply to each of their "presentations" the same principles covered in the presentation skills units.

Presentation Skills is the July core competency area selection for our Best Managers Online Self-Development Series.1 Here are the notes that I recorded in My Journal© during my on-line session.

This is a report for DIAPLAN of the Communications event entered into My Journal on June 27, 2003. The event title was: Making Presentations

My most important thoughts were: 

My likely presentations? Remembering that all our presentations are public presentations, my most likely ones will be to prospective clients and prospective associates.

I can improve myself by thinking more about what message I want to convey -- then scripting the points I want to convey.

Presenter = Salesperson = Leader

People respect and follow a good leader and love a good salesperson! Presenters point people in the right direction and then sell them on the actions that need to be taken. Presentations should result in worthwhile/needed actions.

You need to analyze your audience for interests, motivators, prejudices and education.

My next "presentation" will be to those enrolled in our Managers Self Development Series -- the July session. My challenge is to motivate my audience to take the session and incorporate what they learn into their own "presentations."

I'll suggest that every manager needs to be prepared for two chance encounters: (1) with your boss's boss (or head of your organization), and (2) with a potential prospect at a social event. Participants can use this session to prepare those presentations.

The section on body language while particularly important for face-to-face presentations, has application to other presentations such as those over the phone, web meeting or even in written communications. Remember that words are just a part of the message you wish to present.

Visual aids apply to all presentations. Important: the aids are to be visual (everyone must be able to view them) and they must support the presentation. Of course, the presentation itself could be a series of slides. If so -- the principles outlined in the session would apply.

In soliciting audience participation, questions can be a very effective approach if used correctly. One technique, not covered in the module, is to break the group into smaller groups (either by table or designation) and have the groups field the questions and then an appointed/selected leader report back to you. This can work effectively in audiences up to about 75 participants.

Unit 15 provides an excellent checklist for making presentations.


The formal speaking exercise I recommended for a communicating skills follow up session (see the Communicate tab) also can be used for this module.2 An added feature could be to video tape individual presentations followed by group critiques.

What I like best about our Presentation Skills session is the message that each presentation should be viewed as a call to action. If a presenter will ask: "What do I want them to do?" each of his presentations will have a clear purpose with a measurable result.

Just remember, improving your presentation skills will make you a better manager and leader. (See an interesting Presentation Skills story about Albert Einstein below.)


Best of success in everything you set out to do,

Richard's signature

Richard Dowell
President, Best Managers on the Net
www.BestManagers.Net, home of My Journal© (a web-based tool designed to help you develop and track progress toward your goals).

We are a business consulting, training and development company dedicated to helping good managers and their companies prosper by reaching for the top.  

1You may enroll by signing up for our monthly information Updates either at this site or

2In best leadership and management development programs each group of participants has an assigned mentor (normally the direct reporting supervisor). The mentor conducts module follow-up either through face-to-face or synchronous online sessions.

Click here to review the seven habits of successful speakers.

Subject: He's Nobody's Fool! [Quoted from]

When Albert Einstein was making the rounds of the
speaker's circuit, he usually found himself eagerly
longing to get back to his laboratory work. One night as
they were driving to yet another rubber-chicken dinner,
Einstein mentioned to his chauffeur (a man who somewhat
resembled Einstein in looks & manner) that he was tired of

"I have an idea, boss," his chauffeur said. "I've heard
you give this speech so many times. I'll bet I could give
it for you." Einstein laughed loudly and said, "Why not?
Let's do it!"

When they arrived at the dinner, Einstein donned the
chauffeur's cap and jacket and sat in the back of the
room. The chauffeur gave a beautiful rendition of
Einstein's speech and even answered a few questions

Then a supremely pompous professor asked an extremely
esoteric question about anti-matter formation, digressing
here and there to let everyone in the audience know that
he was nobody's fool. Without missing a beat, the
chauffeur fixed the professor with a steely stare and
said, "Sir, the answer to that question is so simple that
I will let my chauffeur, who is sitting in the back,
answer it for me."


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