You’ve read plenty of posts about what to do in your presentations.
Probably less about what not to do.
When it comes to presentations, a “not to do” list can be more effective than a “to do” list. Simply because it gives you permission to knock out the negative and unnecessary, freeing you up to focus all your energies on the essentials of your speech.
How many from this list are you guilty of? Are you a mediocre presenter?
1. Using logic and facts to sell your idea
Don’t get me wrong, logic and facts are great.
Logic and facts are vital to your presentation. But logic and facts alone won’t get your audience interested in your presentation.
There are two sayings in sales:
“Facts tell, emotions sell” and “Facts tell, stories sell”
Both sayings hint at the same thing: appeals to our lizard brain are more convincing than being bombarded with facts.
When you are preparing your presentation keep the above in mind.
Use stories to engage your audience and hit emotional triggers to sell your idea.
Stories are not difficult in business: talk about your own work experience or introduce some kind of case study related to your presentation topic.
Hit emotional triggers by empathizing with your audience’s challenges and showing them the benefits, the “what’s in it for me?”, about your topic.
2. Preparing a script
Knowing what you need to say, preparation, and practice are vital to a strong delivery.
But here’s the thing:
Speaking to your audience in a natural tone is also vital to your delivery.
That means that your practice should focus not only on remembering what to say, but how you say it.
Writing out a full script with the intention of memorizing it is a plague on natural tone. The written word is meant to be read.
Think how awful this would sound: Write out a couple of paragraphs about your day. Now imagine repeating this word for word to a friend.
It would sound weird, right?
And that’s exactly why you shouldn’t memorize your presentation script. You’ll sound weird, even robotic, on stage.
Instead of memorizing your script, focus on the key themes of your presentation. As long as you know the topics well you should be able to talk about them.
3. Bullets and fade-ins
Audience not asleep yet?
Don’t worry, you’ll get them with your slides!
One of the worst things you can do to your audience is clobber them with bullets which fade onto the screen.
They’ll lose interest as each bullet slowly fades into view and you explain each one to them.
In a good slide deck you will use little to no bullet points. And the ones you do use should not fade-in “slowly”, unless you want your delivery to be driven by the slides. If you are using PowerPoint, and your bullet points are animated, fade them in “very fast”.
P.S. Anyone who tells you to use the 5×5 or 6×6 “rule” for bullet points, ie. 5 bullets by 5 words on each slide, has never been in the audience for one of these presentations.
4. Pointing out what everyone can see
If you have slides I’m going to assume the majority of your audience are sighted…
So please STOP pointing to what you are reading!
Better still, stop reading entirely.
Your slides are there to support you, not the other way around. So stop looking at them.
Focus on the audience and use your slides as support.
5. Voice trails
You know the type.
Each utterance starts off strong, but fades to nothing.
Allowing your voice to trail off will kill your credibility. It makes you look nervous and the audience stops taking you seriously.
Start and finish each utterance strongly. Change your tone when you need to emphasize something, but don’t let you voice trail off.
6. Looking to the stars
There is nothing interesting on the ceiling.
Especially for the audience.
Whether it is caused by nervousness or an effort to remember a script, focusing your eye contact upwards is another nail in your credibility coffin.
If you are looking up because you’re nervous, remember this: eye contact with the audience doesn’t need to maintained on any one person for a period of time. Glancing from person to person is enough.
If you are looking up because you’re trying to remember your script, remember this: you need to practice more and know your topic better.
7. Not buying-in to your own presentation
Quite simply, if you are not enthusiastic about your presentation nobody else is going to be.
Most business people want to avoid being shut in a meeting room or auditorium for an extended period of time listening to someone talk.
If the presenter doesn’t show enthusiasm about what they are presenting, then those already resistant business people will switch off entirely.
Buy-in to your own topic and it’s more likely your audience will too.
What do you think? How many of these items are you guilty of? How many have you seen? Let’s chat in the comments below.