Presentation Skills Offer Value to Casinos and Their Guests
by Martin R. Baird

Presentation Skills Offer Value to Casinos and Their Guests
By Martin R. Baird

For those of you who follow my columns regularly, you may think what you are about to read is a bit of a change from my usual guest experience focus. But by the time you reach the end, I think you will see how it all ties in.
I participate in a lot of casino conferences and executive meetings, and I’m often surprised at how poorly important information is communicated. The passing along of info ranges from data dumps to rambling rampages. The information could be critical to the long-term success of the casino, but the way it’s presented makes it very difficult for the recipients to process and absorb it.
Let me talk about “data dumps” for a moment. I’m sure all of you have been in one of these meetings and the data could come from any number of departments. But the culprit is usually a department that has a large amount of information to share. I’m smiling right now because I can see myself in a board room squinting at a PowerPoint slide that has the world’s smallest spreadsheet. It contains years of data and more columns than the Parthenon. The people in the room are having an exceedingly hard time reading the slide, let alone figuring out what it means to them.
Data sharing is more effective if you follow the K.I.S.S. system – Keep It Simple for Success. Data is far better presented in small doses that have direct meaning. For those of you who have participated in my company’s presentation skills training, you know how we stress that less is more. It’s a simple concept that needs to be followed when dealing with data.
The next thing is those taxing “rambling rampages.” You know what I mean. I’m talking about the person or people who have something to share, but the presentation (and I use that word loosely) lacks clarity and direction. They talk about and around a variety of things without ever getting to their point. Arrggg!
The real problem with dumps and rambles is the loss of opportunity and the waste of time. The opportunity is what people may have learned from the presentation. Someone felt that this information was of value or they would never have suggested that they do a presentation. And oh the horrid waste of time! When you have several key executives in a room for a non-productive hour, you have wasted thousands of dollars. The average attorney probably bills at $175 per hour. I guarantee casino executives’ time is worth way more than that! Let’s say there are 10 executives in the meeting. That’s a minimum of $1,750 spent for absolutely nothing. This doesn’t include the hours the presenter spent getting ready for their show and tell.
These are basic challenges, and I’m not even addressing what I would say is the greatest challenge of all – the fear of standing in front of people and giving the presentation. It’s commonly said that most people fear giving a speech more than they fear death. Sweat glands start pumping at the mere thought of doing a presentation or even being in charge of a small meeting.
People cringe at the notion of giving a presentation mainly because they have never learned how to do it. They may have given a speech in a high school class or may have attended a Toastmasters meeting or two, but they have no formal training. I like Toastmasters. I believe it provides real value. But it’s not a great way to learn how to do a business presentation. Toastmasters sessions spend too much time counting “ums” and ringing bells if you are 30 seconds over your allotted time. People say “um” as a filler when they don’t know what to say next. They use fillers because they have not prepared their presentation or information in a way that is easy for listeners to follow. Reducing the use of fillers is not a big deal. It usually starts with just knowing that you use them and then understanding why you do it. Giving presentations is a skill that is learned and practiced. The people who are good at it have worked hard to be that way. Very few people just get up in front of a group and make a great presentation.
Yes, lousy presentations waste opportunities, time and money. The flip side is that good presentation skills offer great side benefits. Think for a moment about being able to make a professional and informative presentation and what that does for you. The people who present information and ideas clearly are the ones who are visible and get recognized and promoted. You may not aspire to be a GM, but it could mean a little more money for you each year. Wouldn’t it be nice to present your ideas and have them get the attention they deserve? It would be very frustrating to have great ideas and know that they are dismissed because of the way the information is shared.
I know that casinos invest significantly in their people to help them develop. They teach them guest service skills and how to be managers. The concept of developing casino employees isn’t new by any means. But when it comes to quality presentation skills, I think many casinos don’t understand the value they have for the casino long term. Not only in presentations but in day-to-day communications with employees and guests.
And there you have it. Solid presentation skills can boost customer service and, ultimately, your guests’ gaming experience. If an employee is comfortable giving presentations, then they are often more comfortable dealing directly with guest issues.
If you sometimes wonder if you could do a better job at giving presentations, my hunch is that you need help. Now that you see the value in improving your presentation skills, you can make it happen. You will benefit and so will your casino and its guests.

This article first appeared in Native American Casino.

Date Posted: 03-Mar-2008

Martin R. Baird is author of “Advocate Index™: An Operational Tool” and chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a customer service consulting firm for the gaming industry. Robinson & Associates helps casinos determine their Advocate Index, a number that indicates the extent to which properties have guests who are willing to be advocates, and then implements its Advocate Development System to help casinos create more guest advocates. The Advocate Development System uses the proven methodology of Advocate Index in combination with best business practices to chart a course for growth and profitability. More information about the Advocate Development System and Robinson and Associates is available at the company’s Web sites at www.advocatedevelopmentsystem.com and www.casinocustomerservice.com. A copy of “Advocate Index: An Operational Tool” may be obtained by calling 206-774-8856. Robinson & Associates may be reached by phone at 480-991-6420 or by e-mail at mbaird@casinocustomerservice.com. Based in Annapolis, Maryland, Robinson & Associates is a member of the Casino Management Association and an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.

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