The average person will probably have to give a presentation at some point in their lives. It might be something they really enjoy, or it might be something that scares them stiff.
Whichever category you fall into, a successful presentation might make or break your career. To avoid the “breakage,” here are ten mistakes you shouldn’t be making, and how to keep them from happening.
1. Slides full of content
If it takes longer than three seconds to read your slide, you have too much content. The longer your audience spends reading, the less time they spend listening. Listening to you is how they will become engaged with your story.
2. Slides full of bullet points
A slide with a dozen bullet points takes longer than three seconds to read and is less effective than twelve slides with one point each. You want your audience to become immersed in your story, and bullet points aren’t good storytellers.
3. Repeating figures and facts
Presenters often make the mistake of not understanding that their presentation has to compel the audience as if it were a story. Explain your figures with context or reasoning, rather than just repeating the figures already in front of your audience.
4. Not knowing your audience
What concerns your audience and what do they care about? Angle your presentation to their needs and make it into something that they will want to talk about long after you’ve finished. Your presentation shouldn’t be all about you, it should be about them.
5. Making simple things fancy
If you keep your presentation simple, there’s less of a chance that something will break or go wrong. You don’t need animations or funny videos to get your point across, you should be able to do that with the verbal part of your presentation. If you don’t feel like you are, consider doing a quick rewrite.
6. Labeling or captioning pictures
To increase emotional impact, fill your whole slide with your photo. Save the text for their own slides and let your photos speak for themselves.
7. Lack of planning
Before you start making slides, plan your presentation. You can use post-it notes and a wall to create storyboards and get your thoughts organized. Your presentation will flow better, take a shorter amount of time to create, and the limited space on your post-it notes will help to enforce the 3-second rule.
8. Lack of practice
This is possibly the worst mistake you can make. Be sure to practice your presentation in front of others, in front of a mirror, in the shower — it doesn’t matter where, as long as you do it many times. The more you practice, the better your presentation will get.
9. Changes close to presentation day
After all the practicing you’ve done, the last thing you want to do is make a mistake because of a last minute change. Finalize your presentation days before you’re due to present and don’t change anything.
10. Not knowing the technical presentational details
Make sure you know where you’re presenting and what equipment you’re using. What projector are you using? What’s the room layout? Do you have the right cords and adapters? Be prepared with anything you may need to get your presentation running and show up early to setup. It might mean spending a little more time and money but it will save you a lot of embarrassment later on.
It doesn’t matter who you’re presenting to or how big your audience is, if you can avoid these ten mistakes then you’re well on your way to being a cut above your competition.
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