It’s almost daylight.
You’ve been awake all night going over and over your presentation.
You think you’ve got it under control, but you’re not sure what it’s going to be like once you stand up to do it live at today’s meeting.
Here are 5 warning signs your presentation is going to bomb:
1. Your boss asked you to do it
The old, “Talk about a topic of which you have no knowledge” routine.
Yes, I realize there are times when your boss asks you to do a presentation because you are the subject matter expert. But if you find yourself asking “Why did my boss want me to do this?” it’s a safe bet you’ve been set up to bomb.
You should only ever do a presentation when you have very good knowledge about the subject matter (or you’ve been given time to get knowledgeable).
2. You’re not clear what the goal is
If you don’t know what the purpose of the presentation is, then what are you doing?
If you’re only doing the presentation because “we always do a presentation about something at the Friday afternoon meeting” you have a rotten egg on your hands.
Faced with not having a clear goal you have two options:
- Avoid doing the presentation
- Find out what your audience’s needs are and frame your presentation around those needs
3. You’ve almost got the first 3 sentences memorized
The writing is on the wall…
You’ll be a few lines into your talk and you’ll forget everything.
Memorizing lines is a bad way of preparing for a presentation. It’s striving for the perfection that is unattainable.
The best way to prepare yourself is to know your subject matter well and have a plan for the main topics you want to talk about.
4. You’ve got a script
Again, you’re playing with fire.
If you don’t know your subject matter well enough that you need to recite a script, you’re engaging in a dangerous game.
You’re betting that the audience will accept your monotone, stiff-bodied recital as an everyday presentation, rather than be hostile.
Seriously, skip the script and just talk about your subject. You’ll get points from the audience for being genuine.
5. Your slides are your cue cards
Don’t do it!
It’s a mistake!
You’re likely to spend most of your time with your back to the audience, while they spend most of their time texting or looking out the window.
Instead of using your slides as cue cards, consider ditching the slides and then talk about no more than 3 key points related to your subject matter.