A young man gives a presentation to his coworkers, showing that leadership is a skill to become a better pesenter
Unsplash/Austin Distel

You’re in a meeting room, sitting through another presentation. The presenter is speaking in a monotone voice with no energy, reading the slides word for word, standing with shoulders slumped and head down, avoiding eye contact with the audience. After five minutes of this, half the audience has lost interest and is looking at their laptops or smartphones.

You’ve probably sat through many (too many) presentations like that. Most of us have.

Even if a presentation’s content is compelling, body language and attitude have a lot to do with how well it resonates. Would you be persuaded by someone who slumps, mumbles, and looks away? Would you be inspired by someone like that?

How about someone who speaks about their big idea with passion, with humor, with emotion? Someone who shows confidence and strong body language to energize the audience? Someone who engages the audience by ending the presentation with a clear and rousing Call To Action? Those are the signs of a great presenter. Those are the signs of a leader.

Which would you rather be?

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Presentation skills are leadership skills.

When you stand in front of a room, when you deliver a presentation or speech, you are a leader. The audience looks to you for guidance. They want you to lead them and guide them into a higher state of knowledge, of awareness, of action.

When you present, you need to inform, persuade, and inspire others. You need to get others to buy into your ideas, to join you, to follow you. That’s also what a leader must do. A leader shows others a better future and convinces them to join in and help build that better future.

So to be a leader, you must have superior presentation and speaking skills. But how do you actually become a better presenter?

Nobody is born a great presenter, but anybody can become one.

Darren Menabney

Leadership skills and presentation skills are the same, meaning the effect on people is the same. You get people to buy into your ideas, buy into your vision. You inspire others. You lead others. So if you want to become a leader, start by improving your speaking and presenting skills. Become a better communicator.

1. Commit to getting better.

Just like no one is born a natural leader, no one is born a natural presenter. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both started out as nervous and uninspiring presenters—but both persevered and got much, much better. Presentation skills, like leadership skills, can be learned by anyone.

2. Study up on presentation skills.

Once you’re committed, it’s time to buckle down and start studying. Read about presenting. Take courses on presentation. Watch videos of great speakers. Think about people you admire or speeches you hear other people talk about. Or try emulating the skills in TED Talks. Everyone loves those, and with good reason!

These days, there’s really no shortage of materials out there to help you become a better presenter.

3. Just do it!

You’re committed, you’ve learned a lot through books, videos, and courses… Now it’s time to get out there and do it! Practice makes perfect, after all. If you want to become a better presenter, you have to become one. It won’t happen with the flick of a switch. Whenever you have a chance to present, whenever an opportunity arises to speak, grab it. Each presentation you give makes you a better speaker, a better presenter, and builds your confidence. So look for opportunities to present and seize them.

Volunteer! Raise your hand! If you want to become a better presenter, do everything you can to reach that goal.

After all, that’s what a leader would do.