Giving a presentation is not exactly easy, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for just an average performance. While there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ presentation, there are common mistakes that many rookie presenters often make. Unfortunately, these mistakes can lead to dull, boring, or confusing presentations. If you want to work towards creating a presentation that is informative, motivating, and engaging, avoid the following rookie mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not being prepared
When you watch a great presenter, their speech may look effortless, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they didn’t spend weeks perfecting it. Careful preparation is essential and is the key to a successful presentation. All too often presenters think they can just ‘wing it’ but rest assured, everyone in the audience will know they weren’t prepared. Poor preparation can lead to increased anxiety and it can also cause you to lose credibility with your audience.
Mistake #2: Poor Use of Visuals
Visuals are meant to enhance your presentation, not detract from it. Many presenters try to put together a PowerPoint presentation but fail to do so properly. They have overcrowded slides, distracting animations, lengthy sentences instead of bullet points, and unattractive clip art. They include way too much text and their slides are difficult to read. It is important to learn how to create powerful visuals so your presentation will stand out from the crowd.
Mistake #3: Not Knowing Your Audience
It’s not enough to simply spend time researching your topic. You need to spend time learning about your audience as well. Why is your audience there and how can your presentation add value to their lives? Why should they care about your presentation? What prior knowledge do they have about your topic? Getting to know your audience can mean the difference between a successful presentation and a failure. You want to tell stories they can relate to, share photographs that would resonate with them, and include language they will understand. This is essential in order to engage your audience and create a memorable experience.
Mistake #4: Not Familiarizing Yourself with the Venue Ahead of Time
A common mistake many novice presenters make is not checking out the presentation venue ahead of time. You should never walk into your presentation without checking ahead of time to be sure everything is in working order. You want to make sure the projector, lights, sound, and computer is all working properly. You also want to know where to stand and where to place the podium. You need to know the size of the venue and how it’s laid out so you know how loud you need to speak and how you can move about the room. You can avoid technical difficulties and other blunders by scoping out the venue ahead of time.
Mistake #5: Improper Use of Body Language
Never underestimate the power of body language. When it comes to communicating effectively, body language is just as important as the words you speak. Average presenters may fail to make eye contact or avoid moving around the stage. They may also fidget with their hands or use filler words such as “uhm’s and ok’s.” Great presenters, on the other hand, understand the importance of body language in a presentation. Eye contact is incredibly important in order to connect with the audience. Moving around the stage keeps people interested and also demonstrates confidence. You can even show power and credibility simply by the way you stand.
Mistake #6: Reading the Presentation Slides
There is nothing worse than sitting through a presentation where the speaker literally reads every slide to you. If you want to bore your audience to tears, go ahead and read to them. Otherwise, avoid this at all costs! People can read on their own. Your slides are intended to simply highlight your main talking points. The audience should be learning from what you say. People want to learn from you but they don’t want to be read to.