What your presentation skills say about you and why it matters.

First impressions

The importance of presentation skills cannot be taken lightly. Rarely, if ever, is one given an opportunity to make a second impression.  How we choose to show the world who we are is critical. This is evident in how we date, hire employees, and form friendships, to name a few. 

Knock Knock

A woman came to my door the other day.  It was windy. Therefore, her hair was disheveled. She wore dingy clothing. However, she is a cleaning service and perhaps had just come from tidying a client’s home.  She spoke very little and what she did say was very soft. Uttering, “Here you go, thank you.”

Possibly, she is of another ethnicity and doesn’t speak very good English.  I am not in the business of judging.  I observe and draw conclusions. Certainly, that sounds less harsh. Truly, I don’t like to judge. 

Despite her appearance and lackluster engagement, this would NOT have been a deal breaker if I were in the market to hire a cleaning person.  BUT, the cut out brochure she handed me was the nail in the coffin.  

That brochure though…

When one is in the business of housekeeping, cleaning, pet care, meal prep and plant care, certain things are expected.  A client will require attention to detail, tidiness, precision, efficiency, thoroughness and organization.  Upon closer inspection of the brochure, I noticed how poorly cut out it was. There was no attention to detail, zero concern for staying nicely around the blue border lines, and the cuts were slanted and jagged. 

Take pride in your work, kids!

Suffice to say, I couldn’t help but use this as a teachable moment for my kids. I pulled both children aside and asked  if they noticed anything about the brochure. At first, they were simply looking at the words and graphics. After further review, they noticed the things that rankled me.  

When marketing or advertising something, especially in this field of work, and you present a potential client with the complete opposite of what you are selling, that doesn’t work folks.  I told the kiddos, everything you do in life should reflect your best. Give it 100%.  Always take pride in your work.  Those menial tasks that seem pointless or annoying, for example, cutting out something at school, or gluing something down, don’t half &#$ it.  

Our “wishion” for future leaders

Learn With Moxie is all about verbal and non-verbal communication skills.  Not only is our wish/mission for future leaders to be able to talk and talk well, we also want them to be skilled in the non-verbals, the presenation skills.  Eye contact, body language, posture, and overall engagement is so important. If nothing else, it’s simply important to be proud of how you present yourself to the world. “Boy, I really love how Suzie never looks me in the eye, seems stand offish, slouches, and appears to be checked out,” said no one ever! 

This brochure is a perfect example of a non-verbal.  It’s not always what we say with our words.  This woman told me a lot by handing me a piece of paper.  She spoke volumes of the care and concern she has for details and efficiency. Some might call it nitpicky or overly critical, but I truly think we are expecting less and less from our society. 

We’ve lost pride in appearance

We have lost formality in how we dress, groom, and interact. When was the last time you wore something, other than jeans, to the theatre or a restaurant? How often do you require your children to dress in church clothes to go to church? For that matter, when was the last time YOU wore church clothes to attend a spiritual service? We run to grocery stores in yoga clothes, run our children to activities in yoga clothes, and even dine out in athletic wear.  We expect nothing more from our children either. 

We text, typo, abbreviate and we get by.

We’ve lowered our standards and become casual in how we communicate. We text, typo, abbreviate and get by. Additionally, this is how we model for our children.  We send them a U for you, a Thx for Thanks, and the worst, a K for OK. That O is a real hardship to type, I know. 

Trends in the business world

This is evident in Corporate America. It’s also, one of the single biggest complaints.  Client engagement is suffering. Employees take very little care or concern in how they communicate with clients.  Email structures are dreadful. Again, abbreviations, typos, improper grammar, and absence of greetings and closings. Company representatives are awkward when asked to present at a meeting or an annual sales convention. We are becoming more and more casual and complacent in how we present ourselves and our work. 

The importance of being proper

Continually, we allow our children to do it and we expect very little when capable of so much more.  How cognizant are you when you walk into someone’s home with your children?  Do you ask them to greet the homeowner, (even if it is one of your best friends) make sure they look them in the eye, offer a handshake, and a nice to see you? Are your children required to clean up their room or a public space in the home before guests arrive? When school work comes home, do you emphasize the importance of what their handwriting looks like, or the cut and paste job they did on an art project? In speaking with your child, do you emphasize good use of grammar? Are you inclined to gently remind them and repeat the sentence correctly?  

Can you answer yes or no?

If the answer to any of these is no, then slow it down, be aware, and have the conversation about why all of these things are so important as they grow and develop. We must begin working on these things as soon as possible with our children. They really are capable of going much further than what our current culture asks of them.

 Share this picture with your kiddos.  Teach them presentation skills aren’t always what you wear or how you speak, but it also shows in your work and in all you do.  Then go out and buy them Admiral William McRaven’s book, Make Your Bed.  

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