As your company grows, you’ll find yourself standing in front of an audience more often. Whether you’re making a presentation to one business owner or taking your passion to hundreds or thousands of people in-person, on a Webinar or via a telejam, the last thing you want to do is put your audience to sleep (or worse, send them running for the door or to turn off their computers). That’s why it’s important to know what NOT to do, so you can avoid the most common presentation mistakes like the plague.
Most presentations are like a bad blind date (involuntary shudder!). And they are no more likely to be successful, unless you know what to watch out for…and how to fix what’s not working out for you. So, watch out for the following 7 SNAFUs.
- You aren’t totally familiar with your topic
“You memorized the content (and it shows, by the way!),” says Wendy Russell. “Someone has a question. Panic sets in…All you know is what’s printed on the slides.” Instead she suggests that you become so familiar with your material that you could do the presentation without slides (if you had to). “Nothing ruins your credibility as a presenter faster, than not knowing everything about your topic…Be prepared for questions and know the answers.”
- You use filler words
“By far, the presenter’s most distracting habit is the use of filler words.” Eric V. Holtzclaw says in his blog post for INC. magazine that there are many of them, including um. “A filler word is any word that is unnecessary to the point you are trying to get across or is repeated throughout your presentation to the point of distraction.” We all have go-to filler words, so we have to concentrate harder to self-edit. The best way to find yours? Record yourself or ask a friend to listen to your presentation and tell you what words are cluttering up your speech.
- You deliver T.M.I. (Too Much Information)
You know so much about the topic, that you jump from here to there and back again, talking about everything there is to know about your topic, product or service, and no one can follow the thread of the presentation. You’ll be much better off if you remember the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Super-Simple) when putting together a presentation. Stick to three, or at the most, four points about your topic and expand on them. The audience will be more likely to stay involved, instead of catching a few ZZZs.
- You don’t bother with an equipment check
“Nothing kills the mood more than waiting twenty minutes for a presenter to work through their technical issues,” Vito Micheinzi mentions. He suggests getting to the presentation room at least an hour before people arrive (whether in-person or online) and make sure any equipment and software you’ll be using is in good working order. Make sure to plan for the worst and always have a backup plan! He also provides this important reminder, “Technology has come a long way, but it’s still not 100% reliable when you need it to be.”
- You ramble on and on and ignore your time
People have lives and other appointments. You need to respect them. The best way around this is to practice, practice, practice… out loud! It’s always perfect in your head, but reality bites when you practice out loud. Refine (and re-refine) your presentations ad nauseam until you can hit all your major points within your allotted time limit. Your audience will love you for it.
- You forget how it all looks to them
You chose a bad template for your slides. The background color makes everything look bad. The type font is too small or hard to read. You OD’d on extraneous charts, complicated graphs, way too many photos, and what you thought were way cool animations with sound. In fact you used those devices in 85% of your presentation to “impress” your audience. Except the audience doesn’t know where to look, is distracted, and totally misses your message. Instead, choose a slide design that is appropriate for your audience and keep your presentation clear and straightforward. Don’t use weird color combinations, when good contrast makes text easier to read. Be sure to choose type sizes and fonts that are readable to everyone (even the lady sitting 200 feet from the screen). And please, please make sure that you only use graphics to emphasize your points…to illustrate, not decorate. In other words, less is more.
- You never tell them “why”
People listen to you to discover new information that provides real value. That’s the reason you have to start with the reason they should sit there and listen to you. Then, you can’t forget to close with a summation that supports why you said what you said. In other words…
- Say what you’ll be saying
- Say what you are saying
- Say what you said
Still need some added assistance to make sure your presentation rocks? Solamar is ready to help. Get in touch with us.