Doing your presentation is a nerve-wracking experience.
You don’t need this fear-inducing experience to be made worse by the baggage of crappy advice.
Here are 8 lies about presentation skills which you are best ignored. Follow these pieces of advice at your own peril.
1. Your slides are important
Well they are, but they’re not.
Slides are not important at all unless you can deliver your presentation well.
Deliver your presentation badly and your slides don’t matter because no one is paying attention anyway.
Look at it this way: Imagine the most boring person you’ve ever known and listening to them simply because they are holding some beautiful pictures.
2. Your slides are the takeaway reference for your audience
Not they’re not.
In fact, your audience shouldn’t be able to understand your entire presentation just by looking at your slides. If they can, there’s no point in you and you can just send them the slides and skip doing the presentation. You’ll be happier and so will they.
If your audience needs reading material to take away, prepare some additional handout material you can give them at the end.
3. You should write out a script
No you shouldn’t.
A script is a surefire way to turn a confident person into a quivering mess.
A script fills your mind with a whole lot of extra baggage that is tough to remember.
And think about this: What happens if you forget one of your lines? How confident are you going to look fumbling around on stage as you try and remember paragraph 6, line 2?
Skip the script and re-use the script writing/memorizing time as getting-more-familiar-with-your-subject time. It’s time well spent to make your delivery more natural.
4. You should practice your gestures
Perhaps the biggest load of crap that I’ve ever heard naive trainers tell their trainees.
Look at it like this:
You don’t practice gestures in normal conversation, and they just happen naturally. Plus, you look like a normal human being when you’re in that conversation. But, when you do a presentation you’re going practice body language, which doesn’t come naturally, simply because it’s a presentation?
You’re setting yourself up to look like a clown.
Let gestures happen naturally or don’t do them at all. Provided you know your subject matter, and you keep your body position open (no folded, clasped or covered hands) the gestures will come.
5. You should fill your allotted time
You’ve been given 20 minutes to present so you need to fill every minute, right?
You need to say what you need to say to get the audience to buy-in to what you’re proposing.
Try not to go over the time limit, but remember: it takes as long as it takes. If you can do your talk effectively in 12 minutes instead of 20 then do it. I can assure you, the audience will not be upset 🙂
6. Your audience don’t want to be there
If they don’t want to be there that’s your fault, not theirs.
People don’t like going to presentations, and that’s because presenters suck.
It’s up to you to energize your audience, it’s not up to them to arrive energized.
Show your enthusiasm for your subject matter, speak in an upbeat manner, and be genuine. Watch your audience change as they realize you’re not one of those everyday icky presenters.
7. Pausing makes you look nervous
Let me ask you this: When you pause during a regular conversation to think, to search for the right words, to catch your breath, do you feel like you look nervous?
No. It’s natural.
Nobody talks at a consistent pace all the time. That’s unnatural.
Pauses are okay.
8. You should speak formally when presenting to superiors or clients
How about dressing up as a butler or maid too?
Despite what level a person is within an organization, they like to hear, and understand better, simple everyday words.
Deliver in a normal voice.
Deliver in a conversational tone.
Don’t use big words for the sake of it.
What do you think? Let’s chat in the comments below.