We usually talk about what we should be doing in presentations. What to say, how to act, how much to rehearse and so on… but what about those epic fails that could see your presentation flop in seconds? Let’s focus on what NOT to do!
There is a world of difference between preparing to carry out conversational presenting and just going in blindly and ‘winging it’. You are setting yourself up to fail before you’ve even stepped onto the stage with this one. You need to have an idea of how your talk is going to run and you need to have gone through several dry runs before the big day. If you choose to take this approach you can end up looking unprofessional, you may stumble over your words, may not be able to answer questions and could freeze up completely.
If you have put your slide deck together in a rush it will immediately show to your audience. Slides out of order, photos out of focus, statistics missing, half-finished animations and a basic overall theme will let you down no end. Plan to prepare and get this part spot on!
There, Their, They’re
You could have the most stunning slide deck but if you have grammatical and spelling errors you are going to look unprofessional from the word go. It isn’t hard to double check your work, just plan in some extra time for this or, better yet, have a colleague do this for you.
Speaking into a microphone constantly may not come naturally to you but during a presentation it is a must to ensure that you can be heard. Moving about on stage and waving the microphone around or moving it to and from your mouth will cause the audience to experience missed information and will impact on how enjoyable it is. You want your message to get across so you need to have your voice heard!
Not checking that your equipment works is dicing with business death! You will have your audience immediately switching off or even leaving if they can’t hear you, if your slide deck doesn’t run smoothly, if the music is jumping and the video is buffering.
Did you remember to check that all of your leads and wires are in place? No? You are risking losing power at some point during your presentation. The last thing you want to be doing is scrambling around trying to work out what the issue is.
Sometimes this can’t be helped depending on where the power points are within the venue you’re using BUT be aware that a rogue wire can be a big trip hazard and as you should be looking out at your audience and not down at the ground, you are risking making the biggest faux pa possible on stage!
Turning up in casual wear to a more formal event will go down like a lead balloon with your attendees. They will be expecting professionalism and will think they are getting the complete opposite once they clap eyes on you. First impressions really do mean a lot so don’t let your clothes reflect badly on your company.
What Was that Bing?!
Not turned off your notifications for Facebook? Oh, now all the audience know that you’ve been commenting on that video of the sneezing Panda! Not the best look for somebody who is trying to gain an interest in their company and all they can offer, is it? Turn those notifications off, close down all of your other tabs and silence anything that could possibly bing on through!
If you want to add humour into your presentation, you need to get it just right. You may think that dropping a few jokes in here and there spontaneously will be fine on the day but the best presenter plans these in whilst preparing their script and then very cleverly makes them look accidental by using their voice and body language appropriately. Poor jokes will lead to tumbleweed moments and a very awkward audience.