Whether you’re a seasoned pro at delivering presentations that dazzle or you feel like you’re a nervous, stuttering, sweaty-palmed mess, mistakes happen that you may not even be aware of.
Fortunately, once you know what to look for, you can take conscious and proactive steps to avoid them next time.
Even better, the recipients of your presentation will come away from it having learned and retained a lot more – and that’s something you can easily be proud of!
Related Article: 13 Things to Include in Your Next Powerpoint Presentation
Mistake #1: Too Much Information in Too Short of a Time Frame
You’ve got a lot to say, and precious little time to say it in. So you fill your slides with lots of information to keep you on track. Sounds reasonable, right?
Except throwing too much information at your attendees will cause information overload. You’ll talk fast to keep up with the pace of the slides, and the sheer amount of overwhelm will cause your listeners to come away feeling rushed and maybe even panicked over what they missed.
By the same token, including too many bullet points to try and squeeze as much material in as few points as possible (while simultaneously reading from the slides) just leaves people feeling more confused. If all you’re doing is reading from the slides, why do a presentation at all?
Instead, know your material so thoroughly that you could realistically do a presentation without slides. Have three or four bullet points and then use your knowledge of the topic to expand on them instead of reading everything verbatim.
Mistake #2: Too Many Facts and Figures
Let’s face it, facts and figures are the lifeblood of a presentation. But there are ways to make them infinitely more interesting. Let’s say your company achieved stellar growth thanks to marketing efforts in December. That’s great news!
But instead of boring the life out of your listeners with slide after slide of pie charts and graphs, why about making that information relevant to them by sharing how it was done, and what initiatives they could take to make improvements in their own departments? Share a story, an interaction with a customer that made a big impact, or something that you know will resonate with the group. Turn it into something they’ll want to participate in – and they will.
Mistake #3: Too Much Emphasis on the Presentation
Much as having too much information will overwhelm users, focusing too much on the presentation instead of the audience creates a hotbed for all sorts of issues. Powerpoint and similar programs make it all too tempting to fire up the software and let your creative muse out to play.
Bold colors, big, wacky fonts and crazy animations all sound like great attention-getters, but the more special effects you throw in, the harder it is for people to concentrate on the material. For businesses, clean, clear and concise are the rules. Dark text on a light background with animations and effects used very sparingly (if at all).
What’s more, your presentation may look great on your own computer, but because of differences in connections, software, players and other common issues, it may look nothing like you intended on the machine you’re presenting on. For best results (and maximum compatibility), the less wild effects and animations you use, the better.
Mistake #4: Not Practicing (Enough)
If you haven’t practiced your presentation, it shows. If you haven’t organized well, it shows. Follow the three second rule for information contained on a slide: if people can’t read it and understand the basic point in 3 seconds or less, trim it even more to where it’s short, sweet and to the point.
Practice going over the presentation with a friend, family member, or even in front of a mirror if you need to. Make it so that when you present, you’re comfortable and confident – and the only way to do that is with practice!
Related Article: The Biggest Mistakes You're Making During a Presentation
Mistake #5: Technical Difficulties
Sometimes, despite all the preparation you can do, things will still go wrong. There’s nothing worse than having to wing it because of the wrong cables, software incompatibilities, missing files or a projector bulb that hasn’t been replaced since 1970.
While there’s only so much you can do, knowing ahead of time things like what version of presentation software the computer has, whether it’s Mac or PC, and if everything has been tested will do a great deal to make sure your presentation goes off without a hitch!
Do you have presentation horror stories? Have any of these happened to you, or have you been a listener when a presentation hit rock bottom and started to dig? Tell us about it in the comments!