We all prepare and deliver presentations all the time. If you’re an external practitioner, this begins with marketing presentations. Whether internal or external, there are proposal presentations; planning presentations; status presentations; and more. Some of us tend to “death by PowerPoint” while others are great at using imagery to communicate a message. But for all of us, there are three critical skills we rarely think of.

In his Fast Company article, “How to Sharpen Essential Job Skills During Your Next Presentation,” Darren Menabney focuses on three skills: critical thinking, design thinking, and storytelling.

  • Critical Thinking: We all have biases; we all make assumptions; and most of us let these biases and assumptions shape our presentations. Menabney invites a critical thinking mindset that calls out the biases and assumptions so that they are not incorporated into our messaging. “Critical thinking is also about skepticism, and making sure we’re not fooling ourselves, so take a skeptical eye to your own work.” Finally, he makes the point that we should look at our work through the eyes of the audience. Anything that is not relevant to the objectives of the presentation and to the audience should be taken out.
  • Design Thinking: “Design thinking is a process where you’re creating solutions from the user perspective by focusing on the end user and developing insights into their needs.” Once again, it is the user perspective that is important. After you have created the presentation from that perspective, the author recommends you treat it as a prototype; present it to co-workers, get feedback, and improve it.
  • Storytelling: Storytelling activates head, heart, and gut. Data, information, doesn’t. As a result, being a skilled storyteller not only improves your presentation skills. It strengthens your ability to influence the decisions and actions of others. Here Menabney recommends developing your own portfolio of stories, and then selecting those that are most relevant to your objectives and the audience.

To the author’s recommendations I would add one more. Be intentional about delivering value in every interaction, including your presentations.