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Some people live for making presentations.
. . . others consider it their worse nightmare !
Whether it is to five people in a boardroom or 500 in an auditorium, if you are the presenter, the spotlight is on you!
Here are our top 5 tips for avoiding the worst presentation crimes.
Top 5 Presentation Crimes
1. It’s all about me!
If your focus is on you then you need to shift your gaze. It can be tempting to think a presentation is your golden moment to wow your audience with all your knowledge & expertise. Of course your audience want confidence in your knowledge but you need to be thinking of them first. Put yourself in their shoes & consider what’s important to them. Your presentation may be interesting, even engaging but if your audience is left thinking ‘So what?” then you’ve just missed a golden opportunity to inspire them to action. Audiences are naturally selfish & need to know quickly ‘What’s in it for me?”. Next time you’re planning a presentation start by answering ‘What’s in it for me?’ from your audience’s shoes.
2. Not knowing the purpose of your presentation.
If you don’t know the purpose of your presentation then there’s no hope for your audience! Being crystal clear on purpose will help to distill the shape & content of what you deliver. Try getting your presentation purpose down in a 15 word sentence, then ask yourself ‘why?’. You may need to repeat this process several times to get to the heart of what you’re trying to achieve. One client started with this purpose for their presentation; “to brief in the new marketing strategy’ after several rounds of distilling & asking ‘why?’ the real purpose was revealed; ‘to help them sell more kit’ Bingo! Planning the presentation was so much easier when we were really clear about the purpose. It may make your brain ache but much better it’s your brain & not your audience’s!
3. I need to practise til it’s perfect.
If you’re striving for perfection then you’re setting yourself up to fail. Not everything goes exactly to plan even in the best presentations, that’s what makes it real & authentic. Of course you need to rehearse & practise long & hard, in fact a staggering ratio of 90:1 so that’s 90 minutes prep for 1 minute of delivery! We don’t need to practise until it’s perfect but we do need to practise until it’s authentic. So what does that mean? If your brain is busy recalling the words & what’s coming next then you don’t have the bandwidth to engage fully with the audience. Try smiling & looking relaxed when you’re concentrating hard, it’s impossible! That’s why you need to have your content nailed so the real you can shine through.
4. Data dumping.
Chances are if you’ve been asked to present on a topic then you at least know something about it. Most of us underestimate how much knowledge we have & tend to overstuff the content. You may be familiar with what you have to share but remember your audience may be hearing it for the very first time. It’s liberating to know that the golden rule is that “Less is definitely more!”. Data dumping is a great technique when we’re planning & preparing but certainly not when you’re delivering. Preparing a presentation is a bit like making jam! The first part is hard work, takes a long time & is really messy but the end product looks great & is fit for human consumption. Data dumping is just lazy & switches your audience right off. The really smart presenters have already distilled the complex into the simple but not simplistic.
5. Slide suicide.
Death by Powerpoint…. call it what you like, we’ve all been on the receiving end! If someone can understand your presentation by looking at the slides alone then I’m afraid you’re way off course! You are the presenter not the slides, you are the number 1 visual aid. Want to know a shocking fact?…….some presentations are best delivered with no slides at all. Radical I know! You’ve witnessed many slide crimes…too much content, illegible, irrelevant, too many, presenter reads verbatim from slides whilst looking at the screen… on the list goes but still it happens. The best time to think about slides (if at all) is after you’ve prepared your presentation. Only include a slide if it works together with your words to add more power. Finally, be sure to test them…not just by looking at them on your computer. As my children say IRL (in real life!) i.e. on location with you sitting in the back row of the audience. What needs changing becomes blindingly obvious from our audience’s shoes. Try it!