The 10 Most Common Mistakes
How Can You Deliver Better Presentations?
The main reason why presenters deliver bad slide shows is due to a lack of practice. The more experienced and accomplished you become at delivering presentations, the fewer mistakes you will make, the more polished you will be and the more professional you will seem to your audience.
The following list explores some of the biggest mistakes being made, and provides insights into how to avoid them and deliver better presentations:
Some presenters make a habit of rushing to the finish line. This makes the presentation difficult for the audience to follow as they struggle to absorb the information. Speeding through slides is usually a sign of nerves and lack of composure. The simple solution is to consciously slow down, relax and pace yourself.
Reading text from the screen or from your computer is a great way to frustrate your audience, so don’t do it. Let your audience read what’s on screen, while you respond to it. For best results, remember to give them time to read – a few more precious seconds of silence can make all the difference.
When you deviate or digress you risk disorienting your audience and destabilizing yourself in the process. Before you present, determine the best structure for delivery, and then stick to the gameplan. Finding yourself in unchartered territory can be highy treacherous and can easily be avoided by following the format you originally agreed would work best.
Excessive movements like swaying, fidgeting and overzealous gesturing can be distracting for your audience. Widen your stance to make it harder to sway; be mindful of the actions your hands play during your slide show; and refrain from fidgeting with pens, laser pointers, papers, comforting objects or anything else you can get your hands on.
When you become comfortable with your audience, it’s easy to slip into an informal mode and develop a more conversational style. This can lead to rambling about unimportant matters. Resist the temptation to overindulge in unneccessary explanantions, be economical with your words, stay focused and remember that in most cases, less is more.
Apologizing for an awful presentation adds insult to injury and weakens your position. It’s acceptable to apologize for an unexpected incident like an interruption or a technical glitch, but apologizing for lack of practice, not knowing your material or delivering a sub-standard pitch just makes a bad situation worse. Avoid this by knowing your subject material inside out, being well prepared and making your mistakes during rehearsals.
How many times do you need to dress up the same message in different ways and tell your audience the identical piece of information? By all means reinforce important points, but once your audience have got the message, move on.
Too much text, too many ideas and too many slides overload audiences with too much to process. Give your audience sufficient time to digest important pieces of info, and aim to keep your slide show as short and concise as possible. I can’t remember the last time someone complained that the presentation was too short.
Jumping backwards and forwards as you cross reference slides can be very jarring for your audience, especially if you have to trawl through complex animation to find a particular slide. If you need to jump to a slide during the slide show, simply key in the slide number. It pays to have a one-pager screen shot/print out of your slide deck, so that you can easily and effortlessly navigate your way around your presentation.
Too many presenters make the mistake of losing touch with their audience. This can happen by talking for too long, failing to make eye contact, hiding behind a lectern, not listening to your audience and avoiding opportunities for interaction. Top presenters use strategies for building rapport and staying connected with their audience, which include interactive exercises, Q&A sessions and asking for feedback.
So there you have it. Each time you present, be mindful of these pitfalls and make a conscious effort to eliminate them. Once again in summary, these are the mistakes to avoid: