10 Commons Ways to Blow a Presentation

Certainly not #4!

10 Commons Ways to Blow a Presentation – Al Getler

You get one shot at giving a great presentation. Consider these ten ways of blowing a presentation and then plan to succeed by avoiding them:

1. Speaking in a Monotone – When the audience has a hard time understanding what they should be excited, sad, happy or worried about, it probably relates to your tone. Rehearse your presentation and inflect emotion in the right places while avoiding a monotone.

2. Looking Down to Read – Unless it is your way to avoid stage fright (by not seeing the people sitting in front of you), get your head out of your speaker notes, keep your eyes up and look at your audience.

3. Not Scanning or Connecting with the Audience – Now that you have your head out of your speaker notes, try looking around the room and making eye contact with the audience members. This requires practice and experience for the novice speaker, but once learned, it makes your presentations rock.

4. Lack of excitement – Different then a monotone, lack of excitement can come out in what you say and through your body language. As shocking as it seems, many people state at the beginning of their presentation that they are not happy to be there and don’t like to speak in public. Now there’s an opening the gets the audience excited! Couple that with leaning on the podium like dead wood while attempting to keep your audience spellbound and you just blew it.

5. Disheveled Appearance – If you look like you don’t care, then why should the audience care about what you have to say? I am not talking about wearing a suit verse wearing jeans. I am talking about looking neat and presentable. I know plenty of women and men that work in environments where jeans are acceptable or where suits are expected. In either environment these professionals are dressed to impress.

6. Saying “Um” and “Ah” – There are few things more annoying than a speaker that um’s and ah’s throughout their presentation. Before you say it, yes I know, President Obama does it constantly and it is annoying. It is a habit that can be broken by listening to yourself on a recording several times. You will work hard to never do it again.

7. Being Unfamiliar with Your Topic – It takes an audience a very short amount of time to recognize someone who doesn’t know their subject. Whether it is due to lack of rehearsal or not knowing the material, the audience will quickly shut down and tune out.

8. Speaking at a Level That is Above or Below the Audience – It could be talking to third graders like a room full of graduate students or talking to a group of adults like preschoolers, either way, you will bomb. Both are condescending. One says I am smarter than you and the other says that you are not smart enough to understand me. Both will shut your audience down.

9. Reading Directly From Your Slides – Nothing is more annoying than flying across the country to see a presentation from an expert only to look at the back of that person’s head for 45 minutes while they read each slide to the audience. It is like a bedtime story. You could save everyone time and money by emailing the slides and staying home.

10. Too Many Slides/Too Much Text on Slides – When either the slides or the words on the slides are in the hundreds, you are in big trouble with your audience. Too many slides take away from the message. Too many words on the slides are just plain annoying.

Presentations are a bit like first impressions, you only get one before you are judged. Every presenter has a bad day and most do one or two of the 10 Commons Ways to Blow a Presentation.

Work to minimize these presentation bombs and you will be well on your way to being a top presenter.

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Al Getler is a newspaper, website, book and magazine publisher. He is also a comedian/ventriloquist and a speaker on leadership, customer service and personal branding.

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