Presenters, Never Do This!

The little things you accidentally do but don’t realize you’re doing are harming your presentations more than you think. Here are a few absolute presentation no-no’s:

1. Never start off by apologizing. You simply draw undue attention to the problem. You should always start on a positive note, preferably with a smile. By the same token, if you do stumble over a word or phrase at any stage, simply steady yourself and continue. An apology wastes time, draws attention to your mistake and is simply unnecessary.

2. Never start with indecisive waffle. A strong headline opening statement to get audience alignment is the best way to get going. Then, having set up your topic follow it with a sensible, well thought out structure.

3. Never shout at your audience. Rather speak in a strong, expressive voice showing your passion for your topic.

4. Never step back when you’re making a key point. By doing so you are subtracting from what you are saying. If you are making a key point, may wish to take a step forward thus emphasizing the point with body language. When you’ve made the point, pause and take a step back to your original position.

5. Never answer a question by saying “Well, as I mentioned before…” as you are suggesting the questioner was not listening. The reality is that people will miss some of the points you make as they temporarily “leave you” to mull over a previous interesting point. Forgive them, and answer the question politely, but briefly

6. Never end question time with “That’s all we have time for” especially if you can see that people still have questions to ask. Rather say “I’m wrapping up question time now, but I will be available afterwards to answer any further questions.” This ensures that you stay in control of question time and end on time.

7. Never get in to an argument with an audience member. Approach your presentation with the view that people may disagree with you. You are entitled to hold your position, but still acknowledge theirs. You’re unlikely to change their minds during your presentation, so don’t put your presentation at risk by trying. You run the risk of the audience taking their side not yours.

A presentation is an opportunity to persuade people to your point of view on a specific topic. You need to give yourself every chance to do that, as presentations are time consuming, especially in the preparation phase. By avoiding these 7 potential errors, you’ll give yourself a far better chance of successfully meeting your objective.

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