I’ve watched or attended a fair share of presentations at this point, going back to my wayward days of academia and on up through the business world. Some presentations I have seen have been spectacular, but others seem to have been a bit lacking in that “oomph” factor.
Let me put it another way.
There are 7 mistakes people make in presentations that drive me batty. A short trip, granted, but still, it needs to be said! I thought I’d share these 7 oopsies with you so that you do not drive people batty in the future. Are you ready? I thought so.
1. Title your presentation to raise interest, then talk about something else. I really hate this one. If I am in the chocolate business, sign up for your webinar about how to market chocolate, and then you end up talking about oranges the whole time, I’m not going to feel pleased with you. I am happy for you that you have a book to talk about, an area of expertise, or whatever else you want to present on. Say that you are presenting on those things rather than what would *seem* interesting to a potential audience.
2. Use really beautiful daffodil yellow or tangerine orange font. Yeah, we can’t see that too well, can we? It looks like there might be a hint of something there, but it’s hard to tell. Is that a smudge on my computer, maybe? Use dark colors. Be bold!
3. Include about 17 bullet points per slide. When I was first learning Power Point, I was totally guilty of this one. “Oh, drat, it doesn’t fit. Let me move my font on down to 8 point. In Helvetica it’s still legible!” It’s a horrible, no good, very bad idea. Not only will you have people in the front row squinting, but people in the nose bleed section will phase out. Eye tests are for the eye doctor!
4. Talk too fast as you try to cover your 17 bullet points. As you move through your presentation, you begin to realize that having a mini-dissertation per slide is not working, but it’s too late to revise and edit, so instead, you start talking really fast. This makes my brain confused. Do I try to read your slide, which is hard to see, or do I try to take notes based on what you’re saying? If I can’t do either easily, I might end up with a sudden urge to get up or click out. This is not optimal for your success.
5. Don’t try to cover everything about your topic in one presentation. I know. You have the stage, real or virtual. All eyes and ears are focused on you. It’s hard not to take this scenario and run with it, right? “Now I can finally show everyone how brilliant I am! How exhaustive my knowledge is!” It’s exhausting! Leave things up to the imagination. Depend on your audience to add to the story just like you would on your blog (you do that, right?). Leave your audience with a reason to follow up with you. Please, please, do not try to cover every minute detail in an hour-long presentation.
6. Don’t say that what you’re about to tell me is boring. Do I need to explain this one? If you think it’s boring and it’s your presentation, I’ll just say, “OK, cool, thanks for the heads up.” If you think it’s boring, by the way, why are you doing a presentation about it? Is this a self-flagellation thing? I don’t get it.
7. Don’t try to be a stand-up comedian. Yes, entertainment is good, but if you’re hosting a webinar or if you’re presenting at a seminar, people are sitting before you because they want to learn, and they heard that you could teach them. You are not on Last Comic Standing. A little humor here and there is fine. Don’t push your luck or waste your audience’s time.
Those are my 7 pet peeves. What are yours?
Image by Felix atsoram. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/atsoram