Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Putting Communication Back into Presentations
Every semester I venture back to my old college campus and teach presentation skills to the group of students graduating from the Sports Industry Management program. I used to teach a full semester course, but once my schedule filled up, I just didn’t have the time to give, that the students deserved. So instead, two weeks before they have to make their final capstone presentation, I go in and talk about the importance of a strong open and close, how to manage speech anxiety and tailoring your message to engage your audience.
This semester, I had a group of super quiet, reserved, students who elected not to participate in any of the session activities, didn’t want to get free help on their topic, nor did they want to share what gave them “cause for pause” as they prepare. Really, that’s fine by me. I’ve made it through college, I run a business and work with executives to improve theirs. Still I couldn’t help but think about how the presentations went in the first semester that I taught. These millennials, 22-28 year olds, read their slides instead of delivering messages. They recited their memorized scripts in a monotone way. They used layouts, fonts, and colors that were too distracting for the average audience, and wrote from their own perspective, rather than shaping the message to engage and win over the audience.
This week, I couldn’t help but wonder, is that what these students would do? Are they so involved in mobile communication that they couldn’t lift up long enough to learn interpersonal communication skills? I don’t know. However, what I do know from clients, it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage millennials, their communication style and their ability to function within a team, when they rely so heavily on email, texting and social media, and not person to person contact.
So today, I’m addressing this blog to parents of high schoolers, college students and even those attending some higher form of education. One of the reasons young adults aged 22-30 are having a hard time landing a job, is that they never make it through the oral or written communication skills portion of the interview process. Some people have just accepted mobile communication is the wave of the future so other methods don’t matter, but the reality is they do. You can’t build trust through email or text. You can’t develop a working relationship or sense of team, through email or text. You can’t build consensus, motivate a team, or inspire someone to improve their capabilities through email or text. The only way to become an effective leader, is to master the art of verbal communication. If you are the parent, friend, or colleague of a young adult struggling in this area, you are doing them a disservice if you don’t let them know they should improve this skill. They don’t have to choose one over the other. They should have a strong comfort level with both, if they really want to succeed.
If we can help the skill building, don’t hesitate to contact us! Great communication makes the difference between where you are and where you want to be. We try to provide the bridge between the two.
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