Below you will find five of the most common mistakes presenters make and how to avoid them.
1) Failing to connect emotionally
You will lose the audience if you simply “state the facts”. Many presenters believe that business presentations need to be devoid of emotion. However, speaking to people’s hearts as well as their minds will establish a meaningful connection with the audience.
Find ways to add emotional texture to your exhibits, charts, data, proofs, logical arguments, and other analytical content. Begin your presentation with a story your audience can relate to or include analogies that make your data more evocative.
It is important to uncover the emotional appeal of your ideas by asking yourself a series of “why” questions. For example, if you are requesting funding for your start-up from a group of angel investors, start by asking, “Why do I need this capital?” Your answer may be something such as “to allocate a sizeable budget towards marketing.” Then ask why you need to accomplish that.
Continue asking yourself these “why” questions until you unearth how others will be affected by your ideas. Once you have found that emotional hook, it will be easier to choose words and images that elicit empathy and support.
2) Cramming too much information on to your slides
PowerPoint is an excellent tool. However, when you place too many elements in a slide deck, you will overwhelm your audience. When you squeeze in all the points you are going to cover to avoid forgetting anything, you will end up projecting entire documents when you speak. Slides are slides. Documents are documents. They are not the same thing. No one wants to attend a plodding read-along. It is lacklustre, and people can read more efficiently on their own.
Keep your teleprompter text hidden from the audience in the “notes” field, and only project visuals that emphasize your ideas. What if you need to circulate documents afterward? Create handouts using all the text you transferred into the “notes” field.
3) Presenting visual clichés
Nothing quite triggers glassy-eyed boredom such as a visual cliché. Do you want your presentation to stand out (in a good way) from the others your audience have seen? Brainstorm various visual concepts. Then, discard the first ones that came to mind. They may well be the same hackneyed images and illustrations that occur to everyone else too and that is probably why you have seen them a thousand times in other presentations. Develop several ideas for each concept you plan to demonstrate, and you will work your way toward uniqueness.
4) Using jargon
Have you ever listened to presenters who sound extremely intellectual? Then unfortunately, you realized you had no idea what they actually said. If so, the speech was filled with jargon. Each industry has its own syntax that is recognizable to experts in that area, but alien to everyone else.
Unless you are speaking to audience members who are immersed in the material themselves, avoid highly technical or industry-specific language. Use words that will resonate with those whose support and influence you want to earn. If they are unable to follow your ideas, they will not adopt them. Evaluate whether your presentation passes the “grandmother test”. If your grandmother is incapable of understanding what on earth you are talking about, rephrase your message.
5) Exceeding your time limit
There is nothing more torturous than a presentation that goes on forever and leaves you wondering when it will end. A captivating talk goes by quickly. People in your audience will never be disappointed if you end early. However, they certainly will when you end late. Hence, treat the time slot allocated to you as sacred. In addition, keep in mind that people are conditioned to have a 30 to 40 minute presentation tolerance (due to TV shows with imaginatively created commercial breaks).
Delivering a good presentation requires practice and effort. However, understanding how to avoid the pitfalls above will bring you much closer to an outstanding presentation. You will present with exuberant confidence and a clear sense of purpose when you establish an emotional connection with your audience, organize your slides, incorporate appealing visuals, eliminate jargon and stick to your time slot.