There are millions of business presentations given every year around the world, but how many of them are actually successful? The truth is, you have probably sat through your fair share of dull and boring presentations and you may even have a hard time thinking about the last presentation that really motivated you. That’s because so many people lack the skills needed to give compelling presentations. In fact, when you find out you have to attend a presentation, you might immediately think that it will be boring, uninteresting, and a complete waste of time. Overall, the standard of public speaking isn’t as high as it should be and many presenters fail to hit the mark. In order to prevent your own presentation fail, let’s take a look at some of the most common pitfalls and how you can avoid them.
1. Lack of Rapport with the Audience
Presentations are not about the presenter. They are solely about the audience. All too often presenters begin their presentation with a lengthy introduction of their personal background, which the audience could care less about. The fact is, attendees want to know what’s in it for them and why they should be listening. That’s why the job of a presenter is to begin by finding a connection with the audience. Do some research before the presentation about your audience and find out more about their background, demographics, knowledge on the topic, and specific interests. This allows you to tailor your content to meet their specific needs. Then, greet the audience before the presentation and thank them for their time. During the presentation, find real world connections between you and the audience so you can develop a rapport with them. When the audience feels connected to the speaker, they are more likely to be engaged in the presentation.
2. You Presented Too Much Content
Again, figure out what your audience needs to know and let that be the main purpose of your presentation. From there, choose no more than three main points and a few supporting details for each. Keep your content concise and minimal so it’s easy for the audience to follow along without getting bored or tired. You should always be mindful of your allotted time and never go over. Remember, when it comes to presenting, less is more.
3. You Were Unauthentic
When you are preparing for a presentation, the material is only half the presentation. YOU are the other half. In other words, you could have excellent material but if it’s not presented well, it will be a bust. Take the time to practice being yourself and speaking with confidence. Try to smile, make eye contact, be mindful of your facial expressions and body language, and move around the stage. Record yourself or practice in front of a mirror so you can become familiar with how you look and what you can do to relax and appear more authentic.
4. Reading from a Slide
Slideshows are a great tool for supporting your main points, but only if they are used correctly. YOU are the presentation, not the slideshow. If you stand in front of an audience and read text from slides, your presentation will be a guaranteed fail. There is no connection between you and the audience and no one wants to be read to for an hour. Instead, create a visually interesting slideshow that is more than just text and use it only to support what you are saying.
5. Lack of Energy
If you look and sound like you are uninterested in the topic, so will your audience. It’s difficult to remain engaged when a speaker is dull, monotone, and lacks energy. Counteract this by projecting your voice, varying your pitch, using inflection, using gestures, smiling, and making eye contact with your audience. If you are excited and passionate about your topic, the audience will feed off your energy.
6. Lack of Real World Connections
Presentations fail when the audience can’t connect the topic to real life. Not only do you want the audience to listen to you, but you want them to feel what you are saying. You want to establish an emotional connection with them. One way to do this is through storytelling. Stories are a fantastic way to capture audience attention while also giving examples of how your presentation can be relevant in the real world.
7. You Didn’t Rehearse
Like anything else we do, practice makes us better and the same is true for presentations. If you think you are going to just “wing it,” your presentation is doomed. You need to practice and rehearse your presentation several times so you are comfortable with the material, transitions, timing, and the technology you are using. Rehearse in front of peers and seek feedback on areas where you could improve. The more you rehearse, the more confident you will be when it comes time to present.