6 Worst Presentation Mistakes Made by Millions

Each time you engage in a conversation, dialogue or speech with the intention of convincing another person to do, think or act upon anything, you are making a presentation. You don’t have to be in front of large crowds to be giving a presentation or using visual aids such as PowerPoint to be giving a presentation. Presentations are given everyday and are one of the most powerful communication tools that exist and has the ability to propel your business, career and sales to ultimate levels. Master presenters get their status by mastering the art of delivery from setting up their content, structuring the flow, controlling non verbal and verbal actions and delivering a powerful message that is engaging and memorable. They master techniques to ultimately reel their audience in and leave them wanting more. So, why do 99% of the presentations fail?

Mistake # 1: Failure to Focus on the Audience
How many times have you sat through a presentation where the entire focus was only on the person presenting? Did you feel as though you were sitting through a “sales presentation”? You know the ones, “My company is great, we do this, and we do that and blah, blah, blah…. ” Most likely you tuned most of their message out. One of the biggest mistakes presenters make is focusing all of their presentation on an “introduction to my company” with historical data, statistics and overview of why they are so great versus focusing on the audience and their reasons for inviting you to present. To avoid this mistake personalize your presentation to demonstrate that you have a complete understanding of the audience needs, objectives and decision criteria. Customize your presentation to hit on your audience’s objectives and deliver your key messages in a way that your audience feels that those key messages are just for them. Lastly, successfully connect the dots between the audience’s objectives and your own objectives with clear and concise delivery methods that create an emotional connection.

Mistake # 2: Lack of Clearly Defined Objectives
Too many times, presenters fail to successfully connect the dots between the audience’s objectives and their own objectives. They have a tendency to focus on features rather than highlighting benefits and never clearly state what they hope to get out of the presentation. If you are not clear, your audience will not know what specifically they should be focusing on. You need to develop an uncanny skill to present from a benefit position and clearly build the roadmap to the audience’s goals. As Craig Valentine states in his Free Audio Series “7 Step World Class Speaking Toolkit”, It is important to make a “Big Promise”. What specifically brings you here today, what will your audience gain from listening to you today. Lay the framework for their audience and clearly state what their audience can expect over the next 45 minutes and keep your presentation on task to support that objective.

Mistake # 3: Information Overload
One of the first questions I am always asked by every presenter is” How Many Points should I include in my presentation”? Or “How Many Slides”? Another big mistake presenters make is they try to squeeze too much information into one presentation. Rather than your audience retaining your key messages, they will retain nothing because of information overload. There is an old wise saying “when you squeeze your information in, you squeeze your audience out”. Selecting the right balance of information for the timeframe allocated to your presentation is a critical decision that a all presenters need to master. As a rule of thumb, most audience will not retain more than 3 key points in an hour presentation. If you are asked to present with less time, adjust your key points down. It is better to be focused and deliver concrete information and leave something out (that you c an always direct them to) rather than jam too many points, facts and theories into the time that you have. Too many times a presenter will not adjust their presentation and focus on trying to communicate everything. Be sensitive to the time, adjust your material accordingly and master the art of follow up for the additional points.

Mistake # 4: Putting the Audience to Sleep!
A presentation that is not engaging and exciting is a complete bore. Nobody wants to be subject to a boring presentation and if you do not make your exciting, chances are you’re your audience will be angered at the fact that you wasted their time. Remember, time is our biggest asset and people do not give it away freely. Bad presenters fail to grab the audience’s attention and make that emotional connection that connects their key messages and usually leaves their audience feeling bored and unfulfilled. Master Presenters know how to use techniques that tease and make their audience wanting more, they know how to adjust the tone of their voice and to pause at the right moment. They effectively use images to reinforce the emotional element of their presentation and they use stories and provocative questions to engage the mind as the audience waits for the answer in the presentation. Master Presenters are skilled at creating an event and making an emotional connection with their audience each and every time. I often refer to Steve Jobs and his product presentations which are exciting, engaging and powerful. If you have never seen this master at work, I would recommend visiting Apple’s website and taken a look at one of his videos.

Mistake # 5: Death by PowerPoint
Misusing visual aids is a common mistake many presenters make. They try to take all their content and jam it into a slide so they don’t forget what they want to say. To make it worse, they stand up in front of the crowd and read the entire slide deck. Chances are your audience is wondering why they are being read to and are not connecting to the material and the content. Visual aids should be used to enhance a presentation, not be the presentation. The use of images can be one of the most effective ways to stimulate emotion and when used correctly, can really hit home a key message. An example would be – Suppose you want your audience to answer the question “how big is an acre of land”?, you could put statistics up on the slide that state the numerical dimensions and square feet and hope that your audience can relate to numbers, or you could put up a photo of a football field and state “it’s about the size of a football field”. The impact would be completely different! To go a step further to making an emotional connection, you could tell a simple story about the football field and make it relevant to reinforce one of your key messages. Learn how to drive the message home using images without overwhelming content and you will avoid this common mistake.

Mistake # 6: No Call to Action
The last mistake focuses on failure to ask for what you want. If you were invited to do a sales presentation, ask for the business. If you were invited to introduce your company, ask for the next meeting. Every presentation must have a call to action or the audience will not know what you want them to do with the information you are providing. Give them a task to do after the presentation. This action will reinforce your key message and get them thinking about what they have just learned. Master presenters know how to leave their audience with a task to perform and always go for the close.
(c) Kellie D’Andrea & Associates