As a presenter, your role is to manage the impression that you create. For your message to be heard, you need credibility, clarity and connection. We have compiled the top 10 presentation mistakes that we see time and time again.
They are all easily made, but easily avoided.
Here are the rookie mistakes that may be impacting your credibility. Which are you guilty of?
Top 10 Presentation Mistakes
1. Re-cycling old presentations
Every presentation is different. Even if your slides are constant – your words, tone, examples and stories must stay fresh. Your job is to encourage engagement. To do that you must listen. Even when you are speaking to an auditorium of 500 people you need to connect with the people in the room.
Begin your planning by considering the audience. Put them first, not your slides and you will automatically improve your presence.
2. Admitting that you are nervous
Your audience can’t hear the voice in your head. They don’t know you are nervous unless you tell them. Don’t tell them.
In fact, stop apologizing altogether. This only serves to reduce your power. Take the mic, stand your ground, own the stage. Keep your internal dialogue where it belongs – inside your head.
3. Repeating yourself repeatedly
Structure is good — you should have a clear beginning, middle and end to your presentation or speech. This makes it easy to follow. But it is clunky and annoying if you repeat yourself, word for word. Think of your presentation as a build. Make sure each component can stand alone by ensuring your language is clear and strong.
4. Meandering through your content
If your audience are confused about where you are going with your presentation they may not be willing to come with you on the journey. Give them context, a roadmap, signs along the way. Make it easy for your audience to stay on track. The added benefit, of course, is that you also stay on track.
5. One-dimensional delivery method
Keep your presentation interesting by mixing up your delivery method – especially if your you are delivering a long presentation. Even a 20 minute TED talk will incorporate movement, gestures, visuals and slides.
Standing still, behind a podium is boring. Maximize the opportunity to add interest and change up the energy in the room.
6. Using visuals you know nobody can read
‘I know you can’t read this but…’
‘I know this is a bit hard to see, but…’
‘sorry this is a bit small but…’
If your audience can’t read it don’t use it.
Take a look at the video at the bottom of this post for some painfully realistic examples.
7. Pretending you are somebody else
Sometimes presenters undergo a mysterious personality by-pass on their way to the stage. Your presentation persona should not be a different person.
It must be YOU on the stage.
8. Overuse of jargon
Work to eradicate corporate jargon, cliches, acronyms and filler phrases. They only serve to strip the power from your message.
9. Failing to connect
A presentation is a two way communication. It is a live event. To engage your audience you need to connect with them. At the most basic level this means eye contact. For the more advanced speakers you might seek audience involvement; ask for questions, promote discussion. Take your presentation beyond the talking head.
Here is an example from a master of human connection – Bill Clinton. Compare his style to that of his opponent, George Bush (senior) in this 1992 presidential debate:
You can see the energy in the room shift. It is the power of human connection.
10. Using slides as a crutch
We can all read. If all you are going to do is read the words on your slides you may as well just send it to us and we can read it at our own convenience. Stop speaking to screen. Stop using your slides as your cue. Your visual support should be just that – support. Your slides should enhance your message by using a pictures or video to reinforce your point. A deck does not equal a presentation.
Fixing these mistakes is usually a simple matter of breaking bad habits.
Wise words of PowerPoint wisdom from Don McMillan: