Why Presentation and Writing Skills Matter

A few years ago I did an interim-CEO gig at Stanford New Schools, an organization which is headquartered at Stanford University and runs a charter high school across town in East Palo Alto. I didn't know anything about education — I was just hired to clean up the business side. 

But in my few months there I became fascinated by the unique curriculum being used over at the East Palo Alto Academy (EPAA) high school. For example at end of each school year, in order to proceed to the next grade level, each student has to give a presentation to a group of community judges on a particular topic.

Many high school freshmen were terrified when it came to giving their first stand-up presentation in front of strangers. But by the time they were seniors, they were polished presenters.

The reason this is a key component of the EPAA curriculum is simple: part of success in life is being able to stand up and articulate your thoughts to others. 

For this same reason, everyone here at Tivix is required to do a lunchtime presentation to the rest of the company, on any topic they'd like. Everyone is also required to write a blog post to the Tivix website, once a quarter. Because those skills matter.

The results over at East Palo Alto Academy have been remarkable. In a community that historically had a very steep high school dropout rate, EPAA now graduates 90% of its seniors, and over 95% of those go on to college. 

The results at Tivix have been somewhat more mixed. Honestly it's like pulling teeth sometimes, trying to get software engineers to write articles and make presentations. But it's worth it. 

Because in our business (and in life in general), writing and presentation skills matter. 

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.       – David Ogilvy

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