By Dr. Amy Danley
I work in an institute of higher learning and I spend a great deal of time with Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) candidates. I have students who are pursuing a new career in academia, as well as students who aspire to be leaders of industry. It behooves them to promote their dissertations at conferences and build upon their reputation for their respective topics. Surprisingly, many in academia still struggle with how to make and give presentations well.
Conference/industry speakers need to portray themselves as thought-leaders in their respective fields. However, if they haven’t been taught effective presentation skills, unfortunately, people tune them out. We’ve all sat through dull presentations: people with monotone voices reading directly off of slides that have way too much content on them. These speakers fail to connect with and engage their audience. It’s a sad state.
The Educators Role in Fostering Effective Presentation Skills
Our job as educators is to prepare students for their future. My DBA students aspire to a position where they can help solve industry or professional problems or address opportunities in which some kind of collective action is needed. Honed public speaking skills can spark a call to action and motivate employees. Almost nothing emphasizes the quality of thinking and communication abilities as well as a well-prepared speech. Effective presentation skills are also portable between jobs and professions and are critical when making our students desirable to prospective employers. I have incorporated ‘Get Picked’ into my DBA curriculum and the students immediately saw the value of the material.
The Value of Mastering the Elevator Pitch
Public speaking skills are also essential for masters and undergraduate students. These skills help them to synthesize the information they are presented with; this synthesis means that the tools they learn about are a permanent part of their repertoire rather than knowledge that is temporarily gained. It is also important as a skill to persuade your audience. Requiring students to integrate information into a comprehensive framework that captures someone’s attention and gets you noticed should not be overlooked in curriculum. Younger students especially struggle with being able to give an elevator speech: they have a hard time making their point succinctly and directly – skills that are highly valued in a professional setting.
Preparing Students for Their Professional Future
I have an advisory board made up of CEOs of industry who I speak with twice a year to discuss what the industries’ expectations are for future professionals. Clear communication skills and conventions of presentations are gaps that employers note. It is our responsibility to encourage them in these skills in school so the gap doesn’t exist when they are professionals.
We do our students a disservice if we’re not asking them to present and deliver information effectively. The technology skills that we teach them now won’t remain current over the course of their career, but the skills we give them in being articulate will.
Dr. Amy Danley is an Assistant Professor and Department Chair for the College of Business at Wilmington University. Dr. Danley has been an instructor for over 15 years at the Undergraduate, Graduate, and Doctoral level focused on statistics and quantitative research courses. She has chaired numerous dissertation committees and serves as a data analysis and SPSS resource for leadership, faculty, and students in positions such as CEOs, Military Generals, and corporate officers. Dr. Danley has over 20 years industry experience having corporate experience at DuPont and AstraZeneca where she served in Marketing Research and Data Analytics capacities.