Public speaking skills a factor in firm productivity
Developing effective presentation skills will give accounting firms a distinct competitive advantage when it comes to efficiency and productivity, according to a public speaking expert.
Speaking to Public Accountant, public speaking expert Michelle Bowden said that, in a business context, audience members or clients will typically give a presenter less than five minutes to prove themselves before completely switching off.
Based on her own research from engaging with more than 800 employees from small, medium and large businesses, she said effective business presenters are in the minority.
When she asked them about workplace presenters they had seen in the last 12 months:
- only 38 per cent of respondents thought presenters understood their needs as a client
- more than half of the respondents said that presenters generally read from their PowerPoint slides
- only 40 per cent of respondents found presenters to be engaging
- only 28 per cent of respondents said that they were moved to action after seeing presenters
Ms Bowden said it doesn't matter how good a presenter's message is if no one is listening.
"You may have thought that this was just another prospective client as you answered the phone to convert the business - but this 'potential client' has already spoken to your three closest competitors as they shop around for the best solution to their problem," Ms Bowden said.
"You may have thought you were just answering another email inquiry that came through your website contacts page, but the person inquiring actually turned over millions of dollars this year and absolutely needed long-term financial advice. The minute you connected with them they were judging your interpersonal skills."
As a result, Ms Bowden said it's critical for firm owners to remember that anyone can be an exceptional presenter, and that it's just a matter of knowing what to do and doing it.
"Every important presentation should be planned, and the good news is that the more practised or accomplished you are at crafting your message, the more efficient and productive you will become," she said.