As he finished his spiel, the room was filled with resounding claps. He had done so well.
Almost all of us have this ability to identify an excellent presentation and also a bad one. We can watch or hear people and immediately point out faults and offer criticism such as:
“She was trying too hard” or, “He wasn't making too much sense” or, “He did not put his point across clearly and kept going around in circles”. And yet, we end up making the same mistakes very often.
Following are six common presentation mistakes we end up making, along with suggestions on overcoming them:
1. Not knowing your material well
Walking into a presentation, unprepared, is not professional and unfair to the audience. Going in with the intention to wing it does become transparent to the spectators. Even the seasoned hustlers will not be able to put their most confident foot forward if they know they don't understand parts of their content well. It will show up in body language or tonality. Sometimes, you may be doing the same presentation to several different groups of people, for example, pitching to investors as the founder of a start-up. Even then, before each performance, try finding out more about the audience, their personalities, and their preferences and then tweak your presentation accordingly.
2. Using slides as a crutch
Slides, whether you use power point, Prezi, or any other tool, are an excellent aid to presenting. Busy slides with too many elements are disconcerting. Listing every single data point, proof, or argument that you wish to cover because you don't want to forget anything and make it easier for you is not the best idea. Admit it; it is so dull to witness that. Keep the excessive information in the notes section away from the audience's view. If necessary, circulate handouts with the details after or before.
3. Using unexciting visual metaphors
Using visually appealing data always catches the attention of the audience. Try being quirky and out of the box in choosing visual representation and metaphors to drive home your point.
For example: Goals are always indicated by a bull's eye with one or more arrows. While that makes it easier for the audience to understand, it isn't fresh and refreshing. How about using the image of a goalie on a soccer field unable to stop a goal?
Another example could be using a plant or baby in different stages of its growth to show growth expectations instead of the typical boring graphs image.
4. Insulting your audience's intelligence
How off-putting is it to be speaking with someone who uses a lot of fancy heavy words without truly making sense? If you think that by using a lot of jargon you will impress your audience, think again. Every industry has its vocabulary, which the experts are familiar with. However, it may be unfamiliar to everyone else. When presenting, understand the extent of technical terminology your group will be comfortable with. If they are extremely familiar with the language use it else, you will be better off avoiding lingo that may sound like geek speak or over the top. Words have tremendous power. Leverage that by using those words that will resonate with the people you seek to influence. Get more information on presenting to senior leaders in the post: .
5. Speaking for too long
One of the worst presentation mistakes you can make is speaking for too long. Even the most engaging talk, when stretched, will lose its impact. Always be mindful of the time. Involve your audience in the presentation to avoid the monotony of only one voice echoing in the room. The back and forth engagement keep the energy in the room high and charged.
6. Lack of emotional engagement
You will undoubtedly lose your onlookers when you rattle off bland facts and figures. Presentations must be steeped in emotion, irrespective of how analytical the topic or the cerebral level of the audience. Connect with your crowd emotionally. An impactful presentation tugs at people's hearts, not just their minds. Storytelling is a great way to add emotional texture to your data, theories, relevant content, and other information.
Stay mindful of the above points and you will be become an impactful and highly effective presenter.
Views are personal.
The author is the founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners a global Leadership Development company based in Bangalore. She is a Leadership Development Specialist, an ICF Certified Executive Coach [PCC] and author of the book - Team Decision Making.