We’ve all sat through presentations that are far from motivating. They are dull, provide little to no valuable information, and are just a waste of time. Now, think about that rare presentation that not only inspired you but stirred you into taking action. I’m sure you even asked yourself why you couldn’t make a presentation like that.
This article will point out some of the biggest mistakes people make when preparing presentations so you can avoid the pitfalls and instead have a presentation that will stand out from the crowd.
Not being prepared for the big day
Preparing for a presentation will take some work and time. Steve Jobs who has always been considered one of the greatest marketers of all time, spent weeks preparing for each one of his presentations but the finished product was perfect.
Preparation is one of the most important aspects of creating an excellent presentation. It takes a lot of work and time, it takes planning but will be well worth your effort. You should start as early as possible to prepare so you will be ready when the day arrives.
Preparation will also settle your nerves down because you will know the information inside and out. It’s like an actor on stage, they are always nervous when the curtain rises but if they know their lines, they will settle down and give the performance that is expected of them.
If you do a little research, you will find many articles to help you create a good presentation as well as some online courses to hone your skills.
Know the location for your presentation inside & out along with the equipment
You can avoid disasters if you know the location and the equipment ahead of time. You need to know what is operating correctly and what is not. What if the projector doesn’t work with your laptop? That’s going to be a scary, unsettling moment if you wait until the night of the presentation. The slides you spent hours putting together will become useless so what the heck can you do?
You can prevent a lot of nightmares if you go to the location, check out the equipment, ask any questions such as if there are people on standby if something stops working. Plan to go there at least a few days, if not a week, before your presentation.
There could be situations that are out of your control that could be hazardous to your big night. If that’s a possibility, you should contact the right people to correct the situation. You might even have a team of people who will go with you and check everything out beforehand. They should be able to find potential problems and have an excellent backup plan.
Never cut your audience out of the presentation
There are far too many speakers that get so swept up in what they are discussing they totally overlook their audience! Your audience will determine if your product sells or falls flat. They are critical to your success.
A good presentation should start by telling your audience what they can expect. Briefly tell them what you will cover first. When you take a break during the presentation, take questions or add a little entertainment with some funny interesting stories.
If you can make information available for the audience, they will be relaxed and pay attention to your presentation.
Keep your content appropriate for your audience
The sole purpose of a presentation is to share valuable information with your audience. Make sure what you are provided works with the audience. It’s a good idea to research your audience, ask why they are here? How much do they know about your topic? What do they want to learn from your presentation? Never get so carried away with jargon they haven’t got a clue what you are talking about. You could fall into a trap of patronizing the very people you are trying to win over.
Keep your ego in check and put yourself in the shoes of your audience. You want to have a clear understanding of what their needs are and what motivates them. Another good tip, greet people as they arrive at the presentation and ask questions to gain more knowledge about them. This will help you tweak your presentation to a personalized level for the audience. They will appreciate your efforts and pay closer attention to what you have to say.
Stay away from becoming over wordy!
A presentation that is direct to the point is a lot more effective than rambling on and on. Limit yourself to a few fine points. If you take forever to get to the point, chances are you will lose the audience.
The average person has an attention span around 15 to 20 minutes so stick to the point, otherwise, you will lose them. During the planning stage, take note of what your main themes are going to be, what you want to cover, and how to get this information across to your audience. When you start embellishing on the details, always ask yourself if this is the information they need to know.
Make sure your visuals or slides are effective
If your slides are bad, you are going to ruin your presentation in a heartbeat. Always make sure ahead of time that your visuals are great.
Everyone has seen presentations with slides that are loaded with colors, have unnecessary animation, or fonts that are difficult for anyone to read. Really good visuals are not over-the-top, they are concise and to the point by delivering the intended message.
Take into consideration where your presentation will take place when choosing your colors. A dark background with light or white text works best if the room is dark. On the other hand, if the room is bright, a white background with dark text is easier on the audience’s eyes.
Another thing you should pay close attention to is the quality of your graphics. Good graphics will help to clarify information and bring life to the screen but low-quality images will make your presentation look very unprofessional. Unless you really need an image to make a point, enjoy the free space. You need less clutter to help your audience understand your message more clearly. Only use animation when really needed. A dancing image or logo will only become distracting.
Lay off over texting
Rule of thumb, keep it simple! You shouldn’t try to cram in way too much text or information in your slides. You should use around four words in the form of bullet points and not more than 3 bullets for each slide.
You do not need to have your content in dozens of slides. You should stay with approximately 10 slides or less for a 30-minute presentation. Look at your slides and graphics carefully. Ask if this information adds to the presentation or takes away from it. If it’s overkill, take some out.
Brush up on your speaking skills
Even though we speak to each other throughout the entire day, when it comes to a presentation, it can become difficult if you do not have strong oration skills. You should practice every day to make sure you are clear and concise without babbling. The last thing you need is your audience missing the points you are making.
Stay away from the urge to rush through your speech. Take a moment to collect your thoughts, take a deep breath, and make sure you enunciate each word clearly and slow down!
Do Not Emote!
One of the biggest faults some actors fall into is emoting. Emoting is exaggerating your body movements, speech, or gestures. Even if you want to emphasize your passion for a subject, watch how your hands and body are responding to your excitement. Only use gestures that are natural, stay away from large arm swings or body movements unless you want your audience to bust out in laughter.
Make Eye Contact
If you have ever listened to a speaker who only stares at his notes, the screen or even the floor and ceiling, you know how disingenuous they come across.
When you are talking to an audience, it’s really important you make eye contact, connecting to people while keeping them engaged. If you have a small audience, you should be able to make eye contact with each one. If you have a large audience, try focusing on their foreheads, it will seem you are connecting with them as well as others around them.
Creating a really good presentation takes practice and work. If you can avoid some of the pitfalls we have covered, you will have a really good presentation.
The most common mistakes include not preparing properly, delivering unrelated content, and not learning how to speak properly. Spending time planning your presentation will definitely pay off in the long run.
Always take the time to check out where your presentation will take place to ensure all the equipment is working properly and if something is wrong, get it corrected. You can’t do this on the day of the presentation so plan in advance.
Make sure you deliver your content clearly and precisely using visual aids to help your audience stay engaged. Make sure you deliver content your audience will understand. That means research your audience ahead of time to know what level of knowledge they are coming from. Never patronize or speak down to your audience, they will see through it and be offended.
Public speaking is an art, practice speaking every day to improve your tone and slow down your pace if you start speaking too fast. Speaking in fast clips will come across as annoying to the audience. Use eye contact, use proper body language and gestures, never overdo it by emoting.
If you follow this article, you can avoid common mistakes that too many speakers make. With practice, you will deliver a presentation that shows great confidence and a strong sense of purpose. The Best Of Luck!