The Six Deadliest Sins of Presentations

Whether you are giving a presentation at a meeting, or conducting a workshop, there are six deadly sins you must avoid to be successful.

1. Slow start

Some speakers don't seem to start at all they ramble into the presentation and fizzle out of it. You need to open every presentation in a way that breaks the audience's preoccupation and causes them to be present mentally as well as physically. You want to close a presentation with a summary or a call to action.

2. Ending late

Few people mind if you finish a few minutes early! Prepare your presentation as if you have 10% less time than you actually do. Set intermediate times in your presentation to keep on track all the way through. If you start to run long, cut out material that is not absolutely "need to know." Don't wait until the end to cut.

3. Asking "Are There Any Questions?"

Few speakers use question and answer sessions effectively. We often open the floor for questions by asking for them in a way that causes people to think, "No, I don't have any questions." Or we don't allow enough time for questions, so if any are asked people will be "punished" by staying longer.

When asking for questions use openers like:

"Now lets have your questions."
"Now its time to ask those questions you have."
"What questions do you have?"

4. Unreadable visuals

We've all heard a speaker say "I know you can't read this but...." Speakers who do this show lack of respect for their audience. How you communicate your message is just as important as what your message is. Take the time to develop simple visuals, either props of some sort or visuals produced on a computer.

Make visuals visual: color, graphic images, pictures, and charts communicate better than words or numbers alone. Use graphics to put a picture in your audience's mind that supports any words you use on a visual.

Test your visuals in advance of your presentation, preferably in the room where you will speak. Be sure your visuals can be read from the back of the room without strain. Make it easy for your audience to take in your message.

5. Lack of preparation

The fastest way to commit "professional suicide" is to speak to a group of people when you are unprepared. Speaking takes lots of practice; experienced presenters practice the most.

Practice your opening and closing. Practice using your visual aids, and integrating them smoothly with your words. Practice moving and gesturing. Practice varying your voice to add life to your message. You'll get better, more confident, and more successful with practice.

6. Lack of enthusiasm

If you can't be enthusiastic about your subject, why should your audience be? Use your voice, stance, and gestures to show excitement about your topic.

Do you have questions or comments about this article?
We'd be happy to hear from you!

Copyright 2003 Paul G. Fox. All rights reserved.

Paul G. Fox, Fox Performance Training
1802 Meadowview Drive, East Windsor Connecticut 06088
"No Fluff Training™" on behavioral interviewing and negotiation
(860) 623-8288

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