Businessman giving presentation at podiumThis afternoon, I returned to my desk after delivering a speech during an open house organized by my company’s Toastmaster’s club, and spotted an email about presentation skills.

The email was from Distinction Communication Inc., announcing publication of results from Distinction’s 2013 Presentation Impact Survey. Although the survey sample was small (150 people), it provided some data that lends credence to the notion that companies and their employees (including leaders) need help to develop their presentation skills.

Even after decades of experience as a communications professional, I saw the need a few years ago to ramp up my speaking and leadership skills through Toastmasters. The support and guidance provided by Toastmasters and companies such as Distinction is worth the investment of time and money.

Here are results of the Distinction 2013 Presentation Impact Survey. I think they track well with what I see within my company.

1) What best represents your role in the organization?

11% Senior Management
42% Sales or Marketing
17% Training & Development
3% Corporate Communications
5% Operations or Finance
22% Other (Education, mid-level management, directors etc)

2) How would you rank the importance of personal presentation skills on your career and income?

89% Communicating with clarity/directly impacts my career and income (Up 3% from 2012)
10% Presentation skills are helpful but only impact my job somewhat
1% Good presentation skills probably don’t impact my job at all

3) What is the mix of face-to-face presentations vs. web-based presentations you deliver?

33% I only deliver face-to-face presentations.
37% Most of my presentations are face-to-face with a few that are web-based.
16% An even mix of face-to-face and web-based presentations.
14% More than half of my presentations are web-based. *(Doubled from 2012 results)

4) Which best reflects your ability to get honest and constructive feedback on the presentations you deliver?

39% I get regular, constructive and helpful feedback on how well I’m presenting.
36% The feedback I receive is very infrequent and not always helpful.
25% I rarely or never receive direct input on my presentation skills.

5) Do you believe you are a good presenter?

49% Yes, I believe I’m a pretty good presenter
41% I think I’m a somewhat average presenter
10% My presentation skills are not as strong as I would like

6) What best describes the PowerPoint (or equivalent) presentations you or your team deliver? (Be as objective as you can)

12% Very simple- sometimes bordering on too elementary
16% Overly complicated – way too much information on a slide
50% Average visuals- no better or worse than others I see
22% Awesome- high caliber and well-designed presentation visuals

7) Rank these presenter behaviors from most to least irritating or distracting, 1 being the worst (listed below from most irritating average score to least)

#1 – Reading directly from notes or off the screen
#2 – The use of umm’s and uhhh’s (filler words)
#3 – Pacing or nervous movement
#4 – Eyes wander and won’t make eye contact with the audience
#5 – Presenter wants to stay behind a podium or lectern

8) On a 1-10 scale, rank the average presenter you see in your organization every week.


9) Does your company provide meaningful and ongoing resources and tools to help you become a more effective communicator and presenter?

31% Yes- my company supports the ongoing development of these skills in a number of ways
55% Limited- my company provides only occasional or limited resources or tools
14% No- my company does not offer any resources for presentation skills development

10) When asked to deliver an important presentation, your gut feeling is…

35% No sweat… I really love giving presentations
64% I would be anxious but I always make it work out
1% I’d rather have a root canal at the dentist’s office

11) When it comes to creating the underlying message for my presentations…

37% I don’t have a consistent plan for shaping important presentation messages
8% Someone else usually creates the messages for my presentations
55% I have a very specific messaging game plan that I use

*Survey respondents January 2013= 150

This annual survey is conducted by Distinction Communication Inc., a Portland, OR–based presentation services company that provides delivery skills coaching, messaging and advanced design support to clients around North America and the world.