by Adam Noar
99% of presentations are boring.
But think back to the last amazing presentation you attended – one that left you feeling inspired.
Wouldn’t you love to be able to present like that all the time?
Here’s the thing:
To pull a presentation off a presentation that will leave your audience in awe, you need to avoid the “traps” … silly mistakes that distract your audience from your message.
To get you on the right path, we’ve put together a list of 10 common presentation mistakes to avoid at all times.
Presentation Mistake #1.) Starting with a long introduction that’s all about you
The ﬁrst few minutes of a presentation are extremely important.
That’s why your first few slides (including your title slide) and opening remarks are critical.
The focus may be on you, but the presentation is about … wait for it … your audience!
So, make sure you start your presentation with a bang and get your audience excited by engaging them.
There are many ways to do this, but a general rule of thumb is to begin with a quick introduction of who you are and then set the stage for the rest of your presentation with a compelling opener.
Compelling opener examples include:
- Tell a short story
- Provide a quote
- Tell a joke
- Ask a question
When you shift the focus from yourself to your audience that’s when the magic happens.
Presentation Mistake #2.) Focusing on facts instead of emotions
You won’t win over the hearts of your audience with a giant data dump.
You might think you’re impressing your audience with your numbers but at the end of the presentation, they will walk away remembering how they felt.
Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The point is people remember stories, not facts.
For more information on how to tell a great story click here.
Presentation Mistake #3.) Not organizing your slides properly
Poor presentation flow will cause you to lose your audience’s attention.
When developing your presentation, have a plan and outline your content ﬁrst.
This will act as a roadmap (i.e., story) that your audience can follow.
If a particular slide doesn’t fit your story either delete it or put it in the appendix.
Presentation Mistake #4.) Transition & animation overload
Transitions & animations can create emphasis for your slides but too much can be annoying.
Keep it simple.
If you’re going to use them, choose one or two that are “no-frills” and stick with them the whole way through.
Here are a few examples of presentations that use animations and transitions the right way.
Presentation Mistake #5.) Reading your slides
Reading from your slides is a very common mistake in PowerPoint presentations.
Avoid putting everything on the slide and reading it out like a script (like seen in the above example).
Stick with a few key ideas and then talk through the slide adding additional commentary.
The visual presentation should only complement your verbal one.
In other words, your PowerPoint deck is not a crutch.
Presenting this way will require more practicing your presentation out loud but your audience will thank you for it.
Presentation Mistake #6.) Endless boring charts
Nothing puts people to sleep faster than a deck ﬁlled with uninspiring charts (like the one above).
If possible, you can make more of an impact by removing the chart altogether and presenting the key takeaways.
If you’re going to insert a chart keep in mind that your audience has a limited attention span.
It’s your job to make it easy for them.
In other words, it’s up to you to make sure your PowerPoint chart doesn’t suck.
There are definitely a lot of things to keep in mind when you are putting data into your slide, but it is all in the spirit of creating a great presentation: make it beautiful, clear, and interesting.
Presentation Mistake #7.) Lack of humor
No matter what your topic is, don’t take yourself too seriously.
Using humor in your presentations can be a very powerful tool.
The best way to incorporate humor is to know your audience, draw from relevant anecdotes, and practice your delivery.
When it comes to humor in presentations if you aren’t a naturally funny person you can still land some well-timed, appropriate jokes to help your audience warm to you and be more receptive to your message.
Presentation Mistake #8.) Lack of passion and enthusiasm
If you’re not excited about your topic, why should your audience be? If your topic doesn’t excite you, ﬁnd something about it that does.
The thing about enthusiasm is that you can’t fake it – your audience will see right through it!
If you are going to excite your audience, first you must excite yourself.
In other words, get pumped about what it is you’re talking about!
A good way to insert emotion into your talk is to practice in front of a mirror.
Don’t memorize entire sentences verbatim, so that way when you give the talk it sounds a bit more natural – not to mention, the more salient points of the talk will really jump out at you as you go through your paces during your presentation. And that will make a positive emotional impact on your viewers.
Presentation Mistake #9.) Too much information
People fall asleep fast when they see too much text on slides. It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about … it’s an instant buzzkill.
Besides, people can only retain three points really well before their retention drops.
Start by removing the clutter.
Each slide should have a clear focal point and any text or graphic should make a strong impact.
Presentation Mistake #10.) No engagement or interaction
You can engage your audience with simple gestures like eye contact, movement around the stage, or discussion.
Communication is a two-way street.
There are many ways to engage an audience. Here are a few examples:
Break the ice: A simple ice-breaker can put everyone on the same level and energize them for your presentation. Get your audience to do a simple exercise to reset their minds and refocus on your talk.
Insert videos: Videos are a great tool when it comes to giving an engaging presentation. Videos can evoke emotions in an audience that could be otherwise quite difficult to elicit.
Ask questions: Ask for their questions and incorporate them already during the presentation.
Poll your audience: integrate live polls seamlessly into your presentation and engage the participants without the need to switch between screens or applications.
Hopefully, you can identify with some of these common presentation mistakes.
By avoiding these silly presentation mistakes, you’ll make your next talk stand out – for all of the right reasons, and none of the wrong ones.
Here’s my question for you …
What presentation mistakes do you see people frequently making that we did not cover in this article?
Sound off in the comments below!
Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these things to avoid when making a presentation? If so, email them the link to this post.
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