I am helping a former student/client with a job interview.  The company is a well-known, high-profile consulting firm (whose name is an anagram for toileted?!)  This is a creme-de-la-creme position and why I’ve been called to help hone her interview skills.

She sent me the job posting.  Most of it is pretty normal stuff, and then this caught my eye:

  • Strong oral and written communication skills, including presentation skills (MS Visio, MS PowerPoint).

While they’ve got one misconception nailed (presentation skills are a subset of communication skills), the concluding attitude from such “thought-leaders” causes a trickle-down effect of bad presentations.  I fight it every chance I get, but I feel like the voice crying in the wilderness. 

Imagine similar postings:

  • Strong gardening skills, including planting and weeding (shovel, hoe)
  • Strong driving skills, including a sense of direction (GPS, compass)
  • Strong writing skills, including technical writing (MS Word, thesaurus)
  • Strong leadership skills, including the ability to motivate (Zig Ziglar, Plato)
  • Ability to teach music, including theory and appreciation (Pandora, CD player)
  • Strong personal hygiene, including halitosis suppressant (mouthwash and floss)

Folks, PowerPoint and Visio have very little to do with presentation skills, and probably do more to show you don’t have any than anything else around.  People with real presentation skills usually don’t need Microsoft’s wizard-driven, font- and color-happy animation tools.  They can certainly be used effectively, but their use does NOT indicate presentation skills.

This particular job came with a PowerPoint case study, where one slide had 337 words, not including the title (I wish I was making this up).  Is that the skill they desire?  I know what clients think of those slides.

Remember (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise)…

YOU are the presentation.  A tool should never replace you in a presentation.

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