We’ve all been victims of ridiculously long and monotonous PowerPoint presentations on many occasions. I’m perplexed as to why so many educated and competent professionals give such terrible presentations. Creating and presenting a good presentation is not a tough thing to do. It just requires some thoughtful planning. In order to really begin to do the right things it is vital for us to recognize and quit doing the wrong things. To help you out, here are 4 of the most common mistakes individuals make when presenting:
1. Failure to capture the audience’s attention.
Did you know that people listening to you subconsciously make a decision within the first 15 seconds whether you are worth paying attention to? Like a first date, making a good first impression is everything when presenting. But all too often we see people get up, automatically flip to their PowerPoint, and dive into the information they need to get across. A poor introduction to a presentation is like showing up to a blind date in your pajamas – everything is going to be bad from there on. So what can you do to get your audience’s attention? I myself really like to use humor. Humor sets people at ease and gives them a needed moment of relaxation and fun. Not too long ago I began a presentation with a Super Bowl commercial. It had nothing at all to do with the subject of my presentation (and I told the audience that), but it delivered me the audience’s full, rapt attention.
2. Clumsy PowerPoint presentations.
Microsoft intended for PowerPoint to enable professionals to be more successful presenters, but unfortunately it has made the vast majority of people even worse at presenting. Instead of complementing the information, when used improperly, PowerPoint in fact hinders it. Generally people put too much text in each slide. If people are going to simply read your material word for word, why not just send them an email and forget about the presentation altogether? PowerPoint really needs to be used for key points only, not every detail you intend to communicate. Also, pictures are worth a thousand words and video clips ten thousand. I’ve seen so many presentations that are only text – no pictures. That is excruciating for the audience. Many people lack the graphic design skills to make aesthetically appealing presentations. If that is your dilemma, there’s always the option of PowerPoint outsourcing. There are companies that will actually design your presentation for you and will make it look tons better than you probably could.
3. Lack of Organization
Not giving your listeners a basic preview of what you are presenting on keeps the audience disoriented and wondering where you are going and when you will be done. It’s helpful as an audience member to have a preview of what is going to take place. Make sure your listeners know the main ideas you will cover before you talk about them. It will provide for them a framework for the info and put them at ease because they’ll have an idea where they are at. You ought to think of your presentation kind of like a city tour. You want to give the passengers a map with the key sights they will see along the way.
4. A Failure to Finish Strong
Besides your introduction, the conclusion is the most crucial part of your presentation. It is the very last impression you leave with your listeners. Too often presenters will just kind of end their presentation when they finish covering their content. They will say something like, “that’s it.” What their listeners are thinking however is something like, “that’s it???” You should wrap it up with a bang. Use a story or an illustration. Do something that leaves people with a pleasant impression. You can, believe it or not, get by with giving a lousy presentation if you merely begin and end well. Naturally you will want to do more than just that, but you get the point.
Steer clear of these four common mistakes in your next presentation and you’ll be well on your way!