No matter if you’re an extrovert who loves to have a captive audience, or an introvert who would rather make the presentation than deliver it, at some point, we all have to do one. And, while being comfortable in front of people is always a plus, it does not automatically translate to your presentation being effective. As someone who has delivered over 400 keynote addresses and seminars, there are plenty of easy-to-make mistakes that beginners and even seasoned professionals make.
A few of the most common ones?
Yes. While it might seem like a great idea show off your mastery of PowerPoint, it is doubtful to get you many fans. Instead of aiming to fill the time, instead keep it simple and resist the temptation to be overly complex or complicated. One thing a lot of us need to practice more of – myself included – is the art of editing. Ask yourself, is this slide really necessary? Am I wasting valuable space or time? Do this for every slide and you will see an instant difference in the quality of your content.
Steve Jobs didn’t. So, neither should you. If you are short on time, always do at least one dry run before the big day to test out your message. That way you can discover any tricky spots, or areas that are superfluous. Then, edit if necessary. However, if this is the pitch of your career, it is advisable to go through it with as many trusted people as possible. Test it out. Watch for eyes glazing over. Then, change up your presentation accordingly to make sure you keep your audience’s full attention throughout. Remember: Your presentation is only as good as your prep and your dry runs – not as good as your slides. Steve Jobs was an editorial genius who understood this better than anyone.
We’ve spoken about too many slides and the same goes for cramming your slides with content. Nothing can be more off-putting to your audience. Of course, sometimes you may feel the need to bolster content on a slide, but rather use notes in a handout instead. If you cram a slide full of information, it takes away from your presentation in two key ways. First, your audience is trying to read what you have written instead of listening to you. Second, you run the risk of them zoning out. Rather, keep the slide simple and easy to digest. Pause when you change slides, so they can read all the information in a couple of seconds. This helps to prep their brain to absorb your core message that is to come. That way you will have their full attention as you expand on the slide’s key message.
APOLOGETIC ATTITUDE BE GONE
Have a winning attitude and own this opportunity like a boss. Self-deprecation may work in some situations but not in this one. Respect your audience, and be happy to be there. You are the leader in this situation. If you feel unworthy to be there, your audience will find it difficult, if not impossible, to trust you. Instead, show your energy and confidence to win their trust and create a positive atmosphere. Never apologise to your audience for having this opportunity – unless you start late! Then, manners are everything.
TOO MUCH ME, ME, ME
You have a product to sell, but you’re at a loss as to why you’re not getting more positive leads after making your pitch. One of the possibilities is that you might be focusing too much on you. Giving your audience information about you and your product is great. But make sure you emotionally engage them. As Behavioural Psychologist, Susan Weinshenk’s blog post mentions, the use of stories and analogies can capture your audience’s attention and make yourself memorable. Plus, there is scientific backing to the purpose of using stories. Namely, oxytocin-synthesis. Why is this hormone your BFF in business? It helps to ‘nudge’ people to cooperate, empathize, and best of all, pay attention. And, who doesn’t want more of that?