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What are Presentation Skills?
Presentation skills refer to the ability to hold an audience’s attention while you speak, give slideshows, or use visual demonstrations to convey information.
Public speaking and presentation skills are very closely related abilities. To be good at presenting, it requires that you feel confident and comfortable speaking in front of others, including work colleagues or management.
Technically it is a type of hard skill; “hard” refers to the types of skills you can demonstrate, show, or prove
This is in contrast to soft skills such as teamwork, leadership or communication –– traits that are more difficult to quantify, show, or demonstrate.
This distinction is important because your resume and cover letter should contain a balance of both hard skills and soft skills. After all, both types of skills are necessary for most jobs!
The Importance of Presentation Skills
Presentation skills tend to be the most critical for certain jobs involving, to name a few: teaching, public health, training, HR, or leadership roles that may require you to be adept at explaining things to a group.
Of course, there are reasons to give presentations every now and then in many arenas, including required company training, financial reports, and project development.
Someone good at presentation can make a real difference at a company because they keep their audience engaged, informed and in some cases entertained.
Never doubt the power of a good idea, and someone well-versed in presentation knows how to relay essential data, considerations, thoughts and strategies.
Top Presentation Skills
It’s often said that organization is the gatekeeper of the mind. So, to be good at presentation, you must know how to give a logical order to the information you feature. Organization is key to helping the people you explain things to understand with ease and clarity.
Slideshows are a very central part of being good at a presentation, especially in the corporate world. A well-executed slideshow provides a visual multimedia component of your presentation that can reinforce, highlight, and strengthen the information you cover. Being able to produce a clean, professional slideshow can be critical to your presenting success!
Given the above discussion about slideshows, it’s good to have experience with slideshow software such as Google Slides or Powerpoint. Video editing software ability can further enhance your presentation skills.
No good presentation should ever lack a script! Good writing skills are essential to deciding what information you choose to present and how to feature it. That’s not to mention, good writing skills help you better focus your audience’s attention onto the data, numbers or information that matters most from your message.
Your ability to give a good presentation relies heavily on your ability to choose the right words to describe what you’re discussing. So, your verbal communication skills can be a really important component of what employers seek when they need someone who can give a bombshell presentation.
Sometimes you might only present for one person like your boss or a client. However, in other cases, the effectiveness of your presentation relies on your confidence, presence, and experience in addressing larger groups of people. Especially in fields like teaching, law, nonprofit outreach, or public relations –– it won’t hurt to showcase your ability to hold the attention of a substantial audience.
Research skills can matter a lot to presentations when the topic discussed is fact-based or numeric! Likewise, since most presentations are meant to be informative, it could benefit you to mention your research abilities to reinforce the idea that your presentations come from quality-sourced materials.
A talented presenter understands the success of their presentation depends on the ability to target a message to best impact an audience. Let employers know that you understand the nuance of messaging and approach to better adapt your work to its target audience.
Data breakdowns refer to the information you choose to include for your audience and how you explain its significance. It requires good data analysis on your part, as well as the ability to select the most impactful information to make your case. Data breakdowns and analysis are fundamental when it comes to financial reporting or modeling.
Posture, body language, and hand gestures can convey a message just as important as the words you choose. To the effect that you want to convey yourself as a confident and fully mindful presenter, it could help to employ this soft skill, nonverbal communication.
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How to Showcase Presentation Skills
Next, we’ll outline the process you should follow to sell your presentation skills on a resume, cover letter and — with hope — during your interview!
In all three cases, it starts with these preparatory steps:
The job post or description is where an employer lets you know what they envision most in the candidate they want to hire –– this is what they want to see in your documents!
Pay very close attention to the skills and keywords the job post puts the most emphasis on.
Once you do, it makes it easier to target the exact right skills!
If you don’t, you may miss out on an opportunity because you didn’t understand the employer’s core needs.
Consider the types of presentations the job would require you to give.
Have you given presentations to similar group sizes, to a similar age group on similar topics, or in a similar type of environment?
Choose the information you include about yourself, skills and experience based upon the demands of this current job!
Try to echo back phrases that you see in the ad if applicable to your background.
This will show that you pay attention and, better yet, help ensure that you pass an applicant tracking system (ATS).
Many companies, especially ones that post their job ads online, use ATS to prescreen candidates.
The ATS scans your resume and cover letter looking for specific keywords or phrases programmed in by the hiring company. If you don’t have enough of the matching terms, your application may not even be seen by a real human.
If you tailor your resume to match the job post, it may help you from getting skipped over!
Presentation skills in your resume
There are two best places to feature presentation skills in your resume.
The first is to have a “Skills” section, list six to eight total skills, and make sure they’re a balance of hard and soft skills. This is standard on most resumes.
The other option is to include them in the bullet points of your work experience and achievements. For example, instead of just listing the skill “PowerPoint slideshows,” you could list it as a work experience like this, “Led PowerPoint slideshows for groups exceeding 50+ in all-hands company meetings.”
Remember, since presentations are hard to imagine without details try to include numbers to make it easier to describe the significance of your presentations.
It’s a lot more impactful that beyond mentioning you gave a presentation that you cite the group size, their age range, or number of minutes that the presentation lasted.
For example, “Gave hour-long presentations about physical and emotional safety to 5 to 12-year-old groups.”
Numbers and quantifiable metrics will grab the attention of hiring managers and better show the scope of your abilities!
Also, check out our complete guide on How to Write Resume Skills if you’ve got additional concerns about how you create an outstanding document.
Moreover, JobHero offers additional tools that can help save you a lot of time, effort and stress, like our Resume Builder!
Our builder was created by JobHero’s team of career and job experts to help you tailor your resume to the job title you’re applying to.
That way, you get some guidance in choosing the right set of skills to include.
Better yet, it’s automated –– which means that you get walked through the whole process of creating a resume section by section so that you don’t miss any essential steps!
Presentation skills in your cover letter
A cover letter should complement your resume and give additional information that may compel an employer to give you a shot in the interview seat.
If your ability to give a good presentation seems central to the role that you’re applying to, you should tell a story in your cover letter that makes a convincing case for your claim.
Give an anecdote about your presentation skills that shows your mastery.
If possible, include it in a problem-action-resolution framework. You first identify an obstacle you had to confront, mention how you put your presentation skills into action, and then explain the outcome.
Here is an example of how a candidate could justify their computer skills in a cover letter body paragraph:
“In my last role at PF Mining, I was tasked with performing a complete operations audit over the past five years and presenting my recommendations to the executive board. After my comprehensive review, critical thinking and analysis, I produced a one-hour slideshow followed by a question-session that preceded discussions to set the fiscal policy for the company’s 10-year growth strategy.”
Of course, you’ve got to think about how you could tell a story about your own experience to make it yours.
If you want a little extra help putting it all together, check out JobHero’s Cover Letter Builder.
It makes it way easier to create a cover letter in minutes because it skips over the pesky steps like formatting and setting up your margins.
Plus, it’s got auto-suggestions for all the essential formalities of a cover letter so that you can be sure you’re using best practices to describe your experience!
Presentation skills during your interview
Much like how you can use your cover letter to tell a story, in your interview, you need to support claims you make about possessing presentation skills with convincing details and stories about your experience.
So, if you know that presentation skills are central to doing your job, like, for instance, a teacher, then be prepared to discuss them!
If the interviewer asks you a common question like, “What makes you think you’re the teacher we should hire?”
Here’s an example of a strong reply:
“The key to my success as a teacher is my planning. My extra-detailed lesson plans include a mixture of audio, visual and multimedia content to present to students. My attention to detail and passion for the students helps ensure that I tailor each lesson to meet their interests, needs and material engagement preferences!”
As you can see, explaining the components of what makes your presentations effective shows your thoughtfulness and professionalism –– it gives an employer credible evidence that you know what you’re doing!
How to Improve Presentation Skills
There is no shortage of ways to improve your presentation skills.
One good way is to practice speaking in front of low-pressure audiences such as friends and family.
Of course, there are also plenty of learning options: self-improvement articles, books, videos, and conferences brimming with suggestions for how you can be more effective, persuasive or informative when presenting.
Becoming a master of the art of presentation can be a long journey, but this article by Harvard University on 10 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills is a great place to start!