When we sit comfortably as part of an audience, it is quite easy for us to spot when something is wrong with a presentation. However, this is not always the case when you are on the other side. Presenting your ideas, theories, results, or findings in front of a room full of people can be extremely stressful: we may lose focus, lose track of time, lose our thread of thought and even lose our audience’s interest. We have so many things to lose!
Committing mistakes in your presentation can have dire consequences: your public’s attention may drift away quickly, you might also give an unprofessional impression that will discredit your content, or even worse, you can fail to convey your ideas. How can we avoid making these errors? Preparation and anticipation are key elements of your success. You need to take into account three essential components of your presentation: your visual support, your speech, and finally, the perfect combination of both.
To deliver a five-star presentation, we offer you a list of 10 things you should never do. You can find advice about the design of your slides, time management, the content of your speech, and your attitude. This helpful list of don’ts will automatically give you the dos. You can use it as a checklist of mistakes to avoid while you are preparing your next presentation. Let’s take a look and never make these mistakes again!
1. Don’t read off your slides
This is undoubtedly the most common bad habit during a presentation and the most annoying one for the audience. This flaw can generate several negative consequences. First, when you read, you are not looking at your audience and thus you can lose your connection with them. Second, it gives the impression that you don’t have anything interesting to add to what is written on the screen. Remember your primary information must come from your speech, not your slides!
2. Don’t overfill your slides
The golden rule of visual design for presentations is “one idea per slide”. This will allow you to give importance to each message and generate a real and lasting impact on your public. You must give space to your content to let your ideas breathe. Overstuffing your slides often means less clarity. A slide should contain 2 or 3 elements and this is more than enough: for example, a keyword or a title and an impactful image.
3. Don’t show too many slides
Another common mistake is to include all your ideas inside your PowerPoint presentation. If this is the case, why don’t you make a written document and send it? You will save everyone some time. You must also ask yourself: Do I really need this slide or am I just filling space? Slides are what they are: visual aids. They just help you get your message across but they are not the message itself. When it comes to slides, choose quality over quantity!
4. Don’t torture your audience with horrible slides
We are not all graphic designers but we should have basic notions when it comes to our own visual support. Even if your speech is flawless and professional, sloppy visuals can really harm and discredit your performance. A clashing color combination or a wrongfully chosen image can disturb your audience and spoil all your efforts at explaining your ideas. So prepare eye-catching and well-designed slides at all times!
5. Don’t lose focus
Remember the attention span of an audience can be quite low sometimes. You must set clear goals from the beginning and not drift away from them during your presentation. If you lose focus of the message you came to deliver, you may confuse your public or even lose everyone’s interest. You need to limit your spontaneous digressions and improvisations to a minimum. If you are forced to go a little bit off track, for instance, due to a question from the audience, you must quickly get back to the topic at hand.
6. Don’t rush but don’t drag either
Time management is obviously a key element in keeping your public on the edge of their seats. You need to know how to “read the room” and feel whenever a loss of attention might occur. If you rush through your presentation, you will not give enough time for people to assimilate the new information. If you drag too much, your speech may become unnecessarily tedious. Always try to adapt to your audience and find the right flow!
7. Don’t show off
Remember you are not here to sell yourself; you are here to plant a seed and share new information, ideas or insights. Don’t project an overconfident image that might be seen as condescension or egocentrism. For instance, you should always acknowledge people who contributed to your ideas or success. You are not the star of the show but your presentation is. Make your audience feel important, and not yourself!
8. Don’t fake it
Don’t try to be somebody you are not! If you force yourself to pretend to be someone else, it is almost sure that your words will sound fake and it will harm the delivery of your message. For instance, you might be a shy person but you can actually turn this apparent flaw into an advantage by establishing concrete and genuine connection with your public. You are not an actor or actress either, so develop a style that fits your personality!
9. Don’t pontificate
Communication is something very different from pontification. Great communication is a satisfying experience, both for you and your audience. It is a process in which your target audience is at the center of the process. So don’t be tasteless or obnoxious by delivering your personal judgments or opinions as if they were holy scriptures! You need to deliver a clear meaningful message that will make your attendees feel relevant and fulfilled.
10. Don’t lie
It is a sign of maturity and humility to recognize when you don’t have the absolute answer. It is much better to acknowledge that you are not sure about a certain point than to try to invent something that might actually be wrong. This will be counterproductive as you will lose a certain amount of credibility. When struggling with a tricky question, it is better to say you will investigate the matter in question and get back to your audience with a proper answer.
That’s it! We hope you will find these 10 Things You Should NEVER Do During A Presentation helpful. We wish you the best of luck on your next presentation.