You spend countless weeks researching, compiling, and preparing your content. You practice your delivery over and over again. And still, you – and every other speaker – will undoubtedly make a few mistakes during your presentation. Some of these will be minor, and won’t have much impact on the success of your session. Yet others can be detrimental, hindering your ability to achieve your goal, and rendering all your hard work wasted.
Here are five of the most common presentation pitfalls today’s presenters face – and how you can effectively avoid them.
1. Don’t Rely Solely On Your Content
No matter how interesting or informative your subject matter is, the words on your slides, and those you speak, simply aren’t enough to keep the audience engaged. Your delivery of those thoughts and ideas must be dynamic. The format of your presentation must be exciting and interactive. And, you must incorporate visual elements, anecdotes, real-world stories, and other techniques to make your topic, and all supporting points, as relevant and memorable as possible.
2. Don’t Confuse Your Audience
In many cases, your attendees are coming to you to learn something specific. As you are putting together your slides and speaking notes, always keep in mind that they lack the knowledge and expertise that you have. So, you may need to “dummy” it down a bit. For example, avoid terminology or phrasing that they may not understand, be sure to explain what any acronyms or industry jargon mean, and provide in-depth detail (and when appropriate, background information) when covering key concepts.
3. Remember the “Aid” in “Visual Aid”
Your slide deck is not the focal point of your presentation. It is there to enhance and compliment what you’re saying. Using too many images, videos, graphics, and other visual elements, or packing too much copy onto each slide, will have the opposite effect on your audience. Instead of helping them understand and absorb your material, it will actually distract them and minimize information retention.
Absolutely nothing will destroy your credibility as quickly as slides or handouts that are chock full of typos. Misspellings, duplications, formatting inconsistencies, and other errors always convey a sense of inexperience or unprofessionalism. So be sure to read through your materials very carefully before your session. It wouldn’t hurt to have a peer review them as well, since a fresh set of eyes may catch mistakes you missed.
5. Stick to the Schedule
If your allotted time is 45 minutes, then keep it to 45 minutes (or, preferably, less). Once your scheduled end time arrives, your audience will begin thinking about where they need to be next, how many emails are flooding their inbox, etc. – and anything you say from that point on will likely be ignored or forgotten. And, since the close or summary is one of the most important portions of your presentation, you want to make sure you still have their undivided attention.
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