Effective Presentation Skills Are Critical to Professional Success

I’m often asked how I learned to give “speeches.”  Or I’ll be asked, “How did you become a great motivational speaker?”

These are very flattering questions, but I’m always challenged to respond with the right answer.  To me, what I do with groups of 7 at an individual casino or 700 at an international gaming trade show is not a “speech.”  In my opinion, a speech is a monolog.  It’s sending information out with little or nothing coming back.

What we are advocates of is “presentations” and sharing information in a way that involves the people that you are talking with.  Please note I said “talking with,” not “talking to.”

So how did I learn to give effective and engaging presentations?  My dad was in sales for a couple hundred years and was a speech major in college.  So part of me thinks that I learned this skill by observing a true professional at work.

I also honed this skill through accelerated learning and having it fit in my mind.  About 15 years ago, I was introduced to the concept of accelerated learning and the Socratic Method as part of a special program I participated in through the American Management Association.  (FYI – I’m sorry to say they no longer offer it.)  This was a real breakthrough for me that helped me focus on the “participant” more than anything else.

I figured out that people ask me how I do what I do because either they would like to be better presenters themselves or they work with people who need to do a better job of presenting.  I’ve heard it quoted thousands of times that public speaking is the #1 fear people have.  It amazes me that people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death. 

Well, I guess I have a fear of dancing!  But I digress!

Being able to present information and speak to groups ranging from 7 direct reports to 70 people at a departmental meeting is critical.  It is vital to the overall success of both the presenter and that person’s department.  Having great ideas is not enough.  If you and your team want to get the most out of your ideas, all of you must be able to share the information confidently and professionally and make clear points.

Making presentations doesn’t need to be a chilling experience.  I’m not suggesting that my heart doesn’t beat a little faster sometimes.  It does and I think that is normal and healthy.  At the other extreme, we worked with a person who would make herself sick with anxiety prior to speaking!  (After our program, she was excited before a presentation, but there were no more emergency bathroom runs!)

Over the last three years, we have offered our Presentation Skills program to our clients on an as-requested basis.

In 2008, we will open it up to 12 casinos.  We will offer the program to one casino per month this year.  Our session shares the real work information that participants can use to reduce fear and take their presentations to a higher level.  This is not a public seminar.  We offer it to 7 to 12 people per casino.  We hold the sessions on your property so participants are not away from the office.  This four-day program is targeted to executives and managers who need to share information with groups in a professional and successful way.

Delivering an effective presentation is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.  People at all levels of a casino need to be comfortable sharing ideas and information in a way that creates buy-in and enthusiasm.  Research shows that being able to deliver information effectively is a critical factor in a person’s overall business success. 

Casinos that offer our Presentation Skills program to their staff members visibly demonstrate that they value their employees.  The cost of the program is not an expense, it is an investment in a casino’s people.  It is an investment that will pay handsomely for the casino and its employees.

Those interested in our Presentation Skills program should e-mail Marilyn Kuhnert, our client development specialist, at mkuhnert@casinocustomerservice.com or call her at 623-486-9090.

Martin R. Baird
Robinson & Associates, Inc.