Geetesh: Can you tell us more about this survey, and what is its purpose?
Jim: It seems like there are thousands of resources available to the world of presenters these days; websites, books, articles, new technologies, PowerPoint add-ins, training videos and the list goes on and on. Everyone seems to think they know what presenters need to be more effective and some probably do. But every once in a while it’s a good idea to stop and ask them. That’s exactly what our survey did in December of 2009 when we sent a brief Presentation Impact Survey out to nearly 2000 people in our database. (Not all responded) They were a pretty diverse group with a mix of sales professionals, senior executives, human resource managers, training people, company owners, marketing managers and just about every job title you can think of.
Geetesh: What about the findings? Were most of them on expected lines, or were there some surprises?
Jim: For the most part, it wasn’t a whole new list of challenges that seemed to frustrate most presenters today, rather just more of the same things that have stymied their best efforts for decades. They have little time to do things right – not the right skill set to do all things well and rarely got the feedback they needed to get much better at presenting.
Some of the responses seemed to be contradictory at first. For example, the vast majority (86%) indicated that solid presentation skills definitely do affect their career and income. That was a pretty strong consensus as to the importance of the skills. But when it came to getting feedback on those all important skills, nearly 70% indicated that got little or no feedback! This certainly helps us understand why presenters still seem to struggle with the basics.
When it comes to their actual presentations, the majority, nearly 60%, still think their presentations are too complex or too simple. There were some nice surprises in the survey as well. Over 54% indicated they actually practiced their high stakes presentations for an hour or more and their managers were pretty good presenters! To read about how these presenters answered questions about PowerPoint, their biggest frustrations and how they prepared for important presentations, check out all the survey results.
Distinction’s 2009 Annual Presentation Impact Survey by Jim Endicott