There are three types of presentation: The one we planned to deliver, the one we actually delivered, and the one we wished we would have delivered. Many of the thousands of business people we have trained over the past ten years say that before training they would leave past presentations wishing they could have represented. What can destroy a good outcome are the following ‘Presentation Crimes’.
1. Lack of Preparation
When a presenter begins unprepared, it always shows. Inevitably, the presenter will not be able to answer questions correctly, or the individual will deliver a generic message, one not focused on the listeners' issues.
2. Looking Unprofessional
Many people work in a casual business environment. Some presenters we have evaluated show up with attire more appropriate for a social event. Even if the audience does not comment, they will notice everything.
3. Going Too Deep
Many people enjoy the work they do and therefore, they get excited to share everything they know during a presentation. However, most audiences who do not know the fullness of our topic may prefer an overview, rather than the unabridged version. Not understanding your audience can cause you to misstep here.
4. Appearing Arrogant
Audiences make instantaneous deductions about any presenter. It is easy for the presenter’s mannerisms, facial expression or tone of voice cause the presenter to be perceived by audience in a negative manner.
5. Sounding Unsure
If a presenter’s voice is marred with lots of filler words, "ums," "ahs," and "you know," audiences will put the skids on giving a thumbs up. There is no doubt about it, non-words chip away at a presenter’s credibility.
6. Having Scattered Eye Contact
Audiences are like your mother or grandmother. For them to trust what you say, you must look them in the eye. Scanning the room or having a love affair with the floor or ceiling will make audience members anxious about trusting any presenter.
7. No Follow Through
If a presenter promised to send the slides ahead or committed to doing something, but didn't, then reputation will suffer. Obviously, it is better to under-promise and over-deliver.
8. Talking to or Reading from the Screen
Many presenters use their PowerPoint slides as their notes. They often end up reading directly what is on the screen. Listeners quickly become annoyed or bored. They can read and often more quickly than the presenter.
Additionally, if everything is on the slide, and the presenter is not offering anything new, audience members prefer that the presenter email their slide deck. They would rather not attend another meeting.
9. Arguing, Defending or Putting Down
Audiences have questions and sometimes, they offer opinions that are unfair or not true. Arguing is never a good idea. While a presenter may win their point, others will notice defensiveness or an unprofessional response.
10. Over Answering or Repeating
Sometimes, a presenter may notice resistance from their audience. When this happens, presenters can easily go into too much detail or repeat their answer multiple times. Audiences have very little tolerance for this approach.
11. Not Honoring Time Commitments
Whether time allotment is 15 minutes or 1 hour, be sure to honor it. People are busy and have other commitments they need to attend. Remember when presenting to an executive, time is their most precious commodity.
12. Acting Nervous
No one trusts someone who acts nervous. Ahead, make sure you have analyzed your audience and have crafted a message that answers their issues. Then, practice. Do a dry run. During your presentation, pause and breathe at the end of sentences. Let nervous energy out through strong gestures, sustained eye contact and facial animation.
Delivering a presentation can be made easier. By avoiding the twelve missteps above, you will improve your odds for being successful.