9 Trends in Presentation Skills (And Most of Them Aren’t Good!)

A week ago, Litmos’ Brent Schlenker used Google Trends to ask: “Why is instructional design trending downward… since 2004?

Instructional Design

According to the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies’ Top 100 Tools for Learning, Google Search was ranked as the #5 tool used around the world for learning in 2014. It seems like Google search trends should offer some insights as to what’s important to people when it comes to subjects they want to know more about.

I’m always curious to know what’s on the mind of “part-time trainers” – people who may not have “training” in their title or much background in learning and development but who are asked to deliver presentations. This weekend I spent some time sifting through Google trends on terms focused on what I think would lead to more effective presentations.

Most of the trends are pointing downward, which was a bit of a letdown for me. I figured, why not begin with the term “effective presentations“? Here’s what I found:

Effective Presentations

I figured that perhaps people had heard that adult learning principles would be important for their presentations and would want to learn more…

Adult Learning

Hmmm, maybe people were growing a little less formal and a little more hip in their search terms, so I tried “killer presentations“:…

Killer Presentations

Ok, maybe not (apparently I’m the only person who used that term late last year!).

None of these trends seemed very positive, so I held my breath and sat at the edge of my seat, worrying that people may be searching for the wrong things such as the de-bunked idea of learning styles

Learning Styles

Whew! It was encouraging, at the very least, that people were searching less and less for “learning styles”.

Perhaps, based on Google trends, people were savvier than I gave them credit for and were looking for ways to improve their results. So I searched “training evaluation“…

Training Evaluation

None of these trends seemed to be pointing in the right direction. Based on my experience working with SMEs, they’ll often begin mapping out their presentation using PowerPoint. Maybe there’s been an increase in searches for better PowerPoint design

PPT Design

Not really. Prezi has been trendy over the past few years, maybe that’s what people are interested in, so I searched trends for “how to use prezi“, and this was one of the only growth trends I found…

How to use PreziDespite the upward trend with Prezi searches, this exercise led me to grow quite cynical about just what mattered to folks who were searching for ways to improve their presentation skills. Then it dawned on me, perhaps people were intentionally creating worse and worse presentations! Maybe they were searching for ways to make their presentations terrible. I checked the trend for the phrase: “how to bore people” and this is what I found…

How to Bore People

Ok, maybe people weren’t waking up, looking in the mirror, and wondering how they could bore people with their next presentation. So, that’s good.

One last trend I decided to search for was whether more people were simply looking for help to organize their thoughts, so I tried “training plan template“…

Training Plan Template

That was a fun trend to see, especially because it’s one of the more popular search terms that will land folks on this blog (this post from 2013 on lesson plan templates remains one of the most popular posts on this blog).

I’m curious about your thoughts. If Google Search is such a powerful performance support tool to help people do their jobs better, what terms did I miss in my Google Trends analysis that you think people should care about when they begin mapping out a presentation?

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “9 Trends in Presentation Skills (And Most of Them Aren’t Good!)

  1. Very interesting Brian. Did you take note of geographic location of searches? I popped in “train the trainer” and also saw a declining trend, but the #1 search location was Ireland! I put in “trainer certification” and got a much more consistent interest profile, but my hunch is that this might also be for personal trainers vs classroom trainers. I tried out “professional development” and got a similar trend. I have zero idea what all of this means, but the data certainly are interesting.

    I wonder as more millenials join the workforce if we are seeing a desire to have credentials to “prove” we are qualified in order to stand out from the crowd. Also, i have noticed that many organizations took on the role of training their own employees during the recession, so perhaps the perceived need of additional professional development has gone down (thus fewer searches).

    Thought provoking as always. Thanks Brian.

    • Thanks Scott!

      Yeah, it’s always fun to look at data like this and try to figure out what story these numbers/trends are trying to tell.

      My hypothesis was: if Google is such an important (and growing) tool in day-to-day self-development and performance support, then I would have thought there’d be some sort of growth SOMEWHERE among these terms. Not even “killer presentations” has shown growth…

  2. Perhaps you should try “rad presentations” or “gnarly presentations” to get an up-to-date reflection of the Google audience 😉

    • Nice suggestions Scott, but when I searched, I received a message that said: “Not enough search volume to show graphs”. Alarmingly, when I searched for “lecture” the trend line held pretty steady…

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