In seventh grade, I learned one of my most important business lessons: the benefits of clearly communicating a message to an audience.
Picture a geography class full of 13-year-olds. Our assignment was to create a diorama about building the pyramids. We were divided into teams, given a shoe box and our assignment.
My team was diligently painting and gluing, all but Alan. He was cruising the room checking out everyone’s creations and making small talk. He didn’t have a gift for art; Alan’s gift was socializing. When the dioramas were done each team made a presentation to the class. Since Alan hadn’t done much of the work, he was elected to be the presenter.
After our presentation, Mrs. Lorenz began to refer to our group as “Alan’s team”. This was nonsense, since Alan had been the least productive member, but he was the connection between our team and the audience. Alan got the kudos!
Even at thirteen, I learned concepts that have benefitted me all my life:
- People attribute knowledge and power to those who can present information effectively.
- There is little connection between your ability to speak about your work and the amount of work you actually did.
- This is completely unfair but true.
The good news is, no matter how much you dread it, you can improve your presentation skills. Some great resources include:
You not only need to know your subject matter, you also have to look, sound, and be perceived as competent.
This was true when I was 13 and it’s still true today.
The road is easier together,
Linda Laitala, President
Raven Performance Group