8 Ways to Kill Your Presentation
Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity, To seize everything you ever wanted. One moment, Would you capture it or just let it slip?
The opening lyrics to Eminem's “Lose Yourself” may describe a situation that is more dramatic than your presentation, but not by much, and the words still ring true. Every presentation you give is an opportunity to change someone's life or impact them in some way. You can either make their life easier by educating your audience, or earn your way into a new job by giving a wow presentation. Though we looked at all the things you should do during a presentation, we can't forget about the things you should not do.
I've given many presentations, some of them good and some of them, well, not so good. I've rehearsed, I've practiced, and I've memorized, but still made mistakes. After attending an all-day conference, and witnessing ten to twelve different presenters, I came up with this list of things you should avoid.
8 Ways to Kill Your Presentation
Look at the ground
When you're up at the front of the room, the best thing to do is to make eye contact. The worst thing you can do is look at the ground. There are two problems with looking at the ground. The first is that you're visually disconnecting with your audience. Once your audience begins to slip away, you have to work twice as hard to get their attention back. The second reason is that you're making it difficult for your audience to hear you. Make paying attention easy by looking them in the eye and speaking to them.
Ignore your audience
Engagement is a good thing. Have you ever sat in a presentation that really “wow-ed” the group? I have! The presenter moved about the room and engaged with us. If your audience is small, interact with them. Ask specific people questions about the subject and talk with them. Even if your audience is fairly large, ask broad questions they can respond to by raising their hand. Treat your audience as a living entity, and keep them interested by speaking with them instead of talking at them.
Focus on what you don't do or on the past
I think many of us tend to focus on what we have not done instead of on what we have done. When you're making a presentation, you must forget all of the times you got sidetracked or missed the mark. When Thomas Edison finally got the light bulb right, I highly doubt his presentation featured all of the ways he found to not light a room.
Standing still is boring. It looks boring, it feels boring, and it even sounds boring. Move around the room. Interact with the audience. Wave your arms, walk side to side and front to back, and use the whole room. Try dividing the room and the audience into three or four groups and try to walk through each before the end of your presentation.
Focus on your own credibility
Your audience will care more about what you can do for them and less about what you did for someone else. While your background is important, don't focus on it. Hint at your past successes in the form of stories, examples and anecdotes. Don't make your awesomeness the focus of your presentation.
Use outdated information
Just as you wouldn't care today about a book on how to survive Y2K, your audience won't care or connect if your presentation is old and outdated. Keep your examples fresh. If the world has changed since the example was relevant, don't use it. Current information is relevant information.
Assume everyone knows who you are
Even if you think you know everyone in the room, don't assume and don't forget about the people who you don't know. I've sat in many a presentation when the person at the front of the room didn't even give their name. Put all of your contact information on the screen while you do your introduction. Interested parties will take note, and those people who aren't will at least know who you are. The beginning and end of your presentations is a great way to advertise your personal brand too!
Worry or get nervous
Easier said than done right! One of the first things I learned while doing theater was to act through it. “No one will know you messed up but you,” my coaches would tell me. That advice is true for your presentation as well. If you skip something, don't worry. If you say something out of order, don't worry. Try not to be nervous either. The stakes for your presentation are not life or death. Remember, you're talking and presenting to other people. They have no power over you other than the power you give them. Most people are pretty forgiving of our mistakes; don't worry or get nervous.
Speaking in front of an audience can be difficult. By avoiding these eight pitfalls, you can make presenting look easy.
Question: What cool tips can you share that have allowed you to give a captivating presentation? Anything you've learned to avoid? Leave a tip for us in the section below by clicking here!