Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Presentation Pitfalls: Common Presentation Blunders

Below is a list of common presentation blunders. To get the most from the list, please note:
  • They are in order of commonality and destructiveness (a combination thereof).
  • They are categorized by preparation and delivery blunders. Some blunders could go in both categories.
  • There is a related PowerPoint presentation: Presentation Pitfalls and Blunders
  • There are suggestions on how to address these pitfalls: Presentation Blunders Worksheet
Preparation Blunders

·         Not enough preparation, which leads to the rest of the items below
·         Ineffective visuals (PowerPoint or flip-charts) – hard to see (too small, poor colors), not relevant, poor resolution, distracting animation
·         Too much content for length of presentation – not enough time to cover content, too rushed
·         Inappropriate humor
·         Ignoring your audience – no objective/agenda, no visuals (no pictures or stories), no interaction
·         Ignorance about your audience – age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, education
·         Too much content per slide – symptoms include small text, crowded slides
·         Not prepared for questions
·         Not familiarizing yourself with venue and equipment
·         Too many slides
·         Full sentences instead of bullet points

Delivery Blunders

·         Speaking unclearly – Too fast or quiet or not enunciating or using jargon; anything that causes your audience to say more than two times, “What did he say?”
·         Lack of dynamism or enthusiasm
·         Reading content – reading slides or notes (the only oral presentation is reading)
·         Inappropriate dress
·         Starting or ending late
·         Fillers such as um, ah, like
·         Lack of eye contact
·         Failing to engage emotionally
·         Not using space – no hand gestures and staying in one spot
·         Avoiding vulnerability – too serious, trying to be perfect

Some other things to watch:
  • Questions end with an upward inflection and statements end with a downward inflection. Ending statements with an upward inflection sounds tentative and can kill credibility.
  • Tag lines are statements that ask for validation. “This was a good illustration, right?” “We learned something, didn’t we?” Others will perceive you as weak in confidence and conviction.
  • Modifiers are words that diminish the message and the messenger. “This is probably not important, but…” “I guess it will work.” Diminishing your ideas and apologizing tells others you don’t believe in yourself, and they won’t believe you either.
  • When some people nod, they mean “I hear you” or “I understand.” However, your clients may interpret head nodding as agreement. Too much nodding can be perceived as weakness and may send the wrong message.
  • Slang runs the risk of dating, regionalizing, or implying you’re uneducated. Use it sparingly; only when you need to accentuate a point.
  • A quiet voice can indicate insecurity or lack of confidence. Breathe from the diaphragm and project the voice so that every person at the meeting can hear. If they have to strain to listen, they will tune you out.
  • Starting with body of presentation instead of a clear agenda and set of objectives creates uncertainty about the main message. Provide the big picture or overview in the introduction and save the details for the body of the speech.

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