5 Presentation Mistakes You Won’t Want To Make
How do stellar presentation skills impact your success at work? In every way. If you’ve ever wrestled with a presentation or communication snafu in an important meeting, you know what I mean. When leaders invest the time to boost their ability to present and communicate, they reduce miscommunication, increase employee engagement and raise their confidence level.
Even the most seasoned leaders encounter presentation mistakes that can trip them up. Here are 5 mistakes you won’t want to make the next time you’re in the spotlight, including simple fixes you can use right away.
What’s the good news? You’re on your way to becoming a confident, polished, relaxed presenter, every time.
1. Not understanding your audience: DYH (Doing Your Homework) is critical. Why is your audience here? If you’re presenting a business case to your company leadership, for example, what is it they want to know? You have to know and understand all of the details- they want to hear about what is most important to them.
Try this: Focusing on the Five W’s from the old journalism school of thinking – Who, What, When, Where and Why- will put you on the right path.
2. Disorganization: How do you prepare? Preparation is vital. When I ask my coaching clients how they prepare, the responses vary widely- some write everything out, others put notes in their phone or on paper and some confess they “wing it”.
My recommendation? Preparation beats winging it, every time. If you’re prepared, you’ll not only be confident, you’ll be able to control and adapt both your presentation and the conversation as you go along.
Try this: (1) Decide. You can’t talk about everything in one presentation, so settle on a topic. (2) Next, get all of your ideas out of your head. I like to do this using a whiteboard. You can write your ideas on the board and group them by section, or better yet, try using use Post-its. Writing one idea on each Post-it easily allows you to move the Post-its (and your ideas) around as you shape your presentation.
3. Reading your slides: Have you ever been to a conference or a class where the speaker literally read his or her slides? It’s sleep-inducing! If you don’t want this to happen while you’re in the limelight, remember this: people can read your material for themselves- it’s your job to help them understand what’s between the lines.
Try this: Instead of reading a script or filling slides with too much information, use speaker Carmine Gallo’s recommendation to include “The Rule of Three”. If you include a ton of information, the chances people will remember it are low. Determine 3 points that you want to cover, and then stay on track. With rehearsal, your delivery will soon be smooth as silk.
4. Not rehearsing: Do you rehearse?
Not long ago, I surveyed executives and leaders to find out more about their favorite tips for presenters, and I asked this very question. Surprisingly, over half relayed that they don’t rehearse- because they want their conversation to sound natural.
I take the opposite tactic: rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Think about a stellar play or movie you’ve seen. What you see onstage is the final, seamless production. What you don’t see is the time spent by the actors rehearsing their lines, the stage manager reviewing cues and the lighting director setting marks.
Try this: Before your next presentation, rehearse three times: 1st, right after you outline your talk. This will allow you to see whether everything flows smoothly. 2nd, rehearse again about a week before your presentation, if possible. This will help you solidify your presentation and ensure it’s rock-solid. 3rd, rehearse one day in advance; this locks it in.
5. Passing up opportunities to speak: Sometimes leaders, both experienced and newer, pass up opportunities to speak because they are hesitant or reluctant to actually get up and speak. My advice: don’t miss out! Any opportunity you have- whether at an inter-departmental meeting or event or in front of a client, customer or association- means you have a great chance to hone your skills.
Try this: If you belong to an association, volunteering to be a committee chair or officer is a good way to not only serve, but to expand your speaking opportunities. Repetition is key.