Presentation Skills List and Examples

Business woman giving presentation
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Presentation skills refer to all the qualities you need to create and deliver a clear and effective oral presentation. Your prospective employer may want you to deliver briefings and reports to colleagues, conduct training sessions, present information to clients, or any number of other tasks that involve speaking before an audience.

Giving engaging and easy-to-understand talks is a major component of the strong oral communication skills that are a job requirement for many positions.

Know what steps go into creating an effective presentation and what presentation skills are most important to employers. Highlighting these skills will help you stand out during your job search.

How to Use Skill Words

You can use presentation skill words throughout your job search. For example, apply the terms in your resume, especially in your work history. You might also mention these words in your resume summary or headline, if you have either.

You can also incorporate them into your cover letter. Mention one or two specific presentation skills, and give examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits in the workplace.

You can also use these words in your interview. Keep the top presentation skills in mind during your interview, and be prepared to give examples of how you've exemplified each.

During the interview process, you may also be asked to give a sample presentation. You may be assigned a topic, or you may be asked to choose your own. In this case, you will want to embody these skills during the presentation. For example, you will want to demonstrate your oral communication skills by speaking clearly and concisely throughout the presentation.

Each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully, and focus on the skills listed by the employer. Also review lists of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Presentation Phases and Related Skills

Any presentation has three phases: preparation, delivery, and follow-up. All presentation skills fit into one of these three phases.

Preparation means doing the research and creating the presentation. This may mean crafting the entire text (or at least writing notes) and creating any slides or other supportive visual or audio materials. You will also have to make sure that the appropriate venue is available and properly set up beforehand, that the projector works (if you'll need one) and can connect with your laptop, and a whole host of other logistical details. You'll also want to practice your presentations as many times as you need to feel comfortable to deliver it with ease and confidence.

Skills related to preparation include:

  • Conducting research related to your presentation topic.
  • Devising charts and graphs depicting your research findings.
  • Learning about your audience to better tailor your presentation to their needs.
  • Creating PowerPoint slides.
  • Breaking up a presentation into parts of reasonable length.
  • Using statistics effectively to persuade an audience.
  • Incorporating concrete examples and stories to illustrate points and maintain audience attention.
  • Preparing handouts or digital references so the audience isn't preoccupied with note taking.
  • Promoting presentations effectively to generate an appropriate audience.

Delivery is the part the audience sees. A good delivery depends on careful preparation and confident presentation, and requires its own distinctive skill set.

Skills related to delivery include:

  • Delivering an attention-grabbing opening for a talk.
  • Providing a summary of what will be covered to introduce a presentation and provide context.
  • Using body language and eye contact to convey energy and confidence.
  • Pausing to emphasize key points.
  • Modulating vocal tone for emphasis.
  • Articulating clearly and smoothly.
  • Interjecting humor.
  • Speaking with enthusiasm and animation.
  • Projecting confidence.
  • Summarizing key points at the conclusion.
  • Fielding questions to clarify points.

Follow-up includes properly breaking down and storing any equipment, contacting any audience members you agreed to communicate further with, and soliciting, collecting, and analyzing feedback. In some presentations, you may collect information from audience members, like names and contact information or completed surveys, which you also must collect, organize, and store.

Skills related to follow-up include:

  • Creating an evaluation form to solicit feedback from attendees.
  • Interpreting feedback from evaluations and modifying content and or delivery for future presentations.
  • Organizing a database of attendees for future presentations.
  • Interviewing key attendees to gain additional feedback.
  • Emailing presentation slides to attendees.

Top Presentation Skills 

Analytical Thought
The best presenters are constantly improving their skill. To get better, you must be able to look honestly at your performance and all the feedback you get and figure out from that what you need to do to improve. That takes analytical thinking.

You do not want to be that person spending half of your presentation time trying to find a cable to connect your laptop to the projector. Many things can go wrong just before a presentation, and they probably will, unless you are organized.

Nonverbal Communication
When speaking to an audience, the way you present yourself can be just as important as how you present your information. You want to appear confident and engaging. You can do this through good posture, through the use of hand gestures, and through eye contact with the audience. Practice your nonverbal communication by filming yourself doing a practice presentation, and observing your body language carefully.

PowerPoint is the dominant software used to create visual aids for presentations. Learn to use it well, including the special features outside of basic templates that can really bring a presentation to life. Even if someone else is preparing your slideshow for you, it will help to know how to use the software in case of last minute changes.

Public Speaking
You need to appear to be comfortable and engaging when speaking before a live audience, even if you're not. This can take years of practice, and sometimes public speaking just isn't for certain people. An uncomfortable presenter is a challenge for everyone. Fortunately, public speaking skills can improve with practice.

Research is the first step in preparing most presentations and could range from a multi-year process to spending 20 minutes online, depending on context and subject matter. At the very least, you must be able to clearly frame research questions, identify appropriate information sources, and organize your results.

Verbal Communication
Public speaking is one form of verbal communication, but you will need other forms to give a good presentation. Specifically, you must know how to answer questions. You should be able to understand questions asked by your audience (even if they're strange or poorly worded) and provide respectful, honest, correct answers without getting off-topic.

You may or may not need a written script, but you do need to pre-plan what you are going to say, in what order, and at what level of detail. If you can write a cohesive essay, you can plan a presentation.