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Seventy percent of employed Americans who give presentations agree that presentation skills are critical to their success at work, according to a new Prezi survey. My first reaction? The other 30% don’t know it yet.

Prezi, the cloud-based presentation platform company, collaborated with Harris HRS +0% to survey employed professionals about their attitudes on presentations. Prezi also asked me to review the survey results. The findings reflect just how important presentations skills are to one’s career, and also reveal the extreme measures people take to get out of giving a presentation. For example, 20% of respondents said they would do almost anything to avoid giving a presentation including pretending to be sick or asking a colleague to give the presentation , even if it means “losing respect” in the workplace.

The fear of presenting is very real among professionals in corporate America today, so much so that that many people are desperate to avoid it. It’s a problem because the survey also reveals that telling a clear and persuasive story through presentations is a fundamental job requirement and a necessary component of career success. In the information age you are only as valuable as the ideas you have to share.  Poor presentation skills mean that leaders fail to inspire their teams, products fail to sell, entrepreneurs fail to attract funding, and careers fail to soar. That seems like a big price to pay for neglecting such a basic skill that anyone can improve upon.

There is hope for anyone who wants to improve at this critical career skill and, according to the Prezi survey, plenty of people want help. Seventy-five percent of those who give presentations say they would like to be better at presenting  and to ‘captivate the audience.’ One way to improve presentation skills is simply to watch great presentations. Thanks to sites like TED.com, anyone with an Internet connection and a computer or mobile device can watch the world’s most awe-inspiring presentations delivered in 18-minutes.


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