5 Competencies for Effective Presenting

There is no question that presenting is a skill, but whether you feel your presentation skills are A1 or in need of significant improvement, everyone can improve substantially if they put their mind to it and if they are prepared to learn the key skills and then perfect them.

It is important that any presenter establishes trust with their audience and carries the audience with them – we have established five important competencies that, if perfected, will help deliver the perfect presentation…

1. Ensure that everything is clear…

Keep the presentation as simple as possible – don’t make it overly complex, get to the point that you want to make and avoid rambling on because you will make things less clear and will as a result lose the audience. Rambling also makes the presentation far less persuasive. People trust clarity and start to distrust what is ambiguous, unclear or overly complex. For example, employees may not trust a leader because he/ she is not clear about their vision. A team might not trust their manager because they’re not clear about what is expected of them. A salesperson might not be trusted because the benefits of their product or service are not clearly stated.

Clarity is especially important when speaking to an unfamiliar audience with no prior knowledge of your work. Clear communication lets your competency shine through. Identify the goal of your presentation in advance and then use a clear structure to achieve that goal. In rehearsal read your presentation out loud and ask yourself if it will make sense to your audience. Adjust it until it does.

2. Show compassion…

The key question here is “How do I demonstrate that I care about my audience?”

There are a few ways that you can show compassion. Using inclusive language such as “We did this together” instead of “I did this for you,” will draw an audience in. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and empathize with how they feel. Make them feel as though they are both heard and understood. Compassion can also be illustrated by ensuring, in preparation, that the content is relevant to the specific audience. The compassionate presenter consistently uses language such as, “What this means to you is…”

3. Illustrate competency…

Trust can be gained by illustrating your expertise or competency within the presentation. You know your market or know your job. Whenever you speak, your audience is evaluating not only whether you believe in what you are saying but also whether you are capable of doing it.

We can project competency in many ways when we speak. First off, we can demonstrate knowledge of our topic by either using examples from our own experience or sharing current trends in our industry. Secondly, we demonstrate competency by investing in our presentation skills so that we present a cohesive, persuasive presentation. As a presenter you should NEVER say “I know we only have 20 minutes, but I could speak for an hour on this topic, so please stop me at the allotted time’’, by saying this they communicate a lack of competency in preparing their content for the time allotted (as well as a lack of respect for their audience’s time).

4. Make the connection.

Stories are a great way to get your audience involved mentally – people can picture things when real stories are used to emphasise a point. They tap into the emotions of the audience and bring the presentation to life. It generates trust and a real connection. Using stories is a powerful way to introduce yourself to a new audience, because it’s through shared values that the audience starts to connect with you on a personal level.

What personal examples can you share in your presentation? We recommend a specific focus on stories that demonstrate transparency and vulnerability. Surveys have shown that employees would trust their senior leader more if that leader would be more transparent about their mistakes. There are nuances here, of course, this doesn’t mean that transparency equals trust, because confidentiality is also trusted. However, we relate more to someone’s challenges than to their capabilities.

5. Be consistent…

While we address this competency last, it’s actually one of the most important. The ability to be the same, confident and authentic presentation style every time.

Ask yourself – does your message constantly change or does it remain consistent? Are your actions consistent with your words? Trust goes beyond a brand or a logo, it’s how an audience feels in every interaction. In order to demonstrate consistency, we need to be consistently prepared and intentional about both our words and our actions. Consistency is how we build a positive reputation, both at an organisational and individual level.


These five competencies are not easy to build, however once you make them standard practice in your presentational and leadership style, they will become easier to include. When you take time to prepare a presentation, speech, or difficult message, take time to ask yourself how you are building trust with your audience. The results will have a massive and positive impact on retention, company morale, productivity, and business outcomes.

If you need some help improving your presentation skills get in touch with us at ignite@tinderboxbusinessdevelopment.co.uk. or call us on 01162325231.

The Tinderbox Team