There is little in business life more dreadful than a bad presentation. When someone doesn't have it together, the pain is excruciating. Often you feel bad for the person presenting, and at the same time you feel resentful because they stole your time and offended your intelligence.
The scary part is that many people do not realize how bad they are at presenting. They take little responsibility for making sure they present in a way that is valuable and compelling for the audience. Being a good, professional presenter requires skill, practice, and focus. If you don't pay attention, you will make one of the mistakes below and people will simply dismiss you or possibly worse...
1. You stare at the screen.
Right at the outset, you can tell you are dealing with an amateur when they talk to the screen behind them. You should be talking to the audience, not your PowerPoint slides.
2. You never get to the point.
Someone who just throws out facts and unrelated concepts is frustrating. People are expecting you as the expert to set a premise and draw a conclusion - or at least, pose a relevant question.
3. You read off your notes. (Or worse, your slides.)
If you are going to simply read text, save me the boredom and just send me the notes or presentation. Take the time to own your material and share from your core.
4. You act inappropriately.
In a business environment, there is no reason to uncouthly offend or even take the chance. Do a little homework so you know your audience. Finds ways to be provocative without being vulgar.
5. Your slides are too full of text.
If you have more than 40 words on a slide, you are wasting the tool. Slides are not designed to communicate books or articles. They help enhance speaking with visual support. The key word is VISUAL.
6. You don't manage time.
There is no good excuse for not being aware of your time slot. You prepared the material. You had the chance to practice and time the presentation. It's detrimental to rush at the end and inconsiderate to waste people's time by going over.
7. You have too many topics.
As the presenter, one of your most critical jobs is to edit. I understand that every piece of information is important, to YOU. People have a natural capacity for retention in a verbal presentation. Figure out what is truly relevant to THEM and edit accordingly.
8. You ramble on.
It's not my responsibility to follow your train of thought. You owe it to your audience to have a beginning, middle, and end with each concept. Be a teacher not a confounder.
9. Your slides have typos.
Carelessness communicates to your audience that they are unimportant and that they are unworthy of your time and attention. Show them they are worth your extra effort to be careful and diligent.
10. You have the wrong kind of energy.
An overly exuberant presenter can be just as off-putting as someone who is practically sleeping on stage. Tune your output to the audience and the environment. Be bright, smart, and in control.
11. You don't engage the audience.
You may be excited about what you have to say, but you are there first and foremost for the audience in the room. Give them a reason to be there. Be entertaining and interactive so they don't wish they had stayed home and just read your slides.
12. You over-use technology.
There is no need to be fancy with crazy colors and animation. You will just distract from important messaging. Keep it simple and stop making people seasick with flying titles and Prezi.
13. You are dry and boring.
People are giving you their time and attention. Don't abuse their generosity by making them suffer through droning. Be lively and interesting.
14. You speak too softly.
Not only do people need to hear what you are saying, but you need to make sure they are not annoyed by the fact that you can't project confidence.
15. You are disorganized.
There is no reason not to have a laid out agenda and to know what you will say in what order. Disorganization simply demonstrates you are not worthy of the opportunity.
16. You say um and ah a lot.
These annoying verbal affects are clear signs you don't have control of the presentation process. Practice speaking more or get a coach so you can look like you have command of your brain.
17. You don't make eye contact.
People won't trust you if you can't look them in the eye. Make a conscious effort to look at faces around the room. Give each one 3--5 seconds of direct attention.
18. You are unprepared.
Don't just think you can wing it. Unless you have given this presentation many times, people will see through your bravado and consider you a phony. Learn the material and practice, practice, practice. You should spend twice as much time practicing as you did creating the presentation.
19. You shift around a lot.
People didn't come to see a Ping-Pong match. Be in control of your body and actions. Have good posture with intentional movements and gestures.
20. You stand super stiff.
If you are too rigid and unnatural people will be uncomfortable with your nervousness. Practice the presentation until you know it so well, you can relax just as if you were in a conversation with your best friend.
21. You act insecure.
Do you know? Or do you just think you know? People aren't interested in listening to people who don't have a clear point of view. What's more, they want to see your conviction, your willingness to fight for what you believe. Otherwise, why bother?