We’ve all been on the receiving end of a terrible presentation. Sometimes it’s hard to put a finger on what’s wrong with. Often though, a poor presenter will go as far as to point out why their presentation is sub-par. When you’re making the presentation, how can you avoid these pitfalls? What phrases destroy your credibility regardless of your content?
Here’s our top three culprits:
“Wow, I’m so nervous”
This one is usually followed by an awkward giggle.
Presentations are all about confidence: your confidence that you know your material and the audience’s confidence that you know your material. When you tell the audience you’re nervous, you’ve instantly lost them. They’ll not only doubt you, but also your material.
When we run our Presentation skills Workshops, we ask participants to rate how nervous they feel when they’re up front on a scale of 1–10, with 10 being the most nervous. This usually results in scores of 8+. We then ask the audience to rate how nervous the person looked. This usually comes out at a max of 3. It’s one of the main reasons we think other people don’t feel nervous, we just can’t tell how truly nervous someone is by looking at them, so avoid telling your audience.
“You probably can’t read that slide too well”
We talk a lot about PowerPoint slide design, but by far the biggest problem is cramming too much information into one slide. Saying that a slide is hard to read is just drawing attention to this mistake. Not only does this tell your audience that you are knowingly giving them poor slides, it also detracts from your audience’s attention as they struggle to make out the tiny markings on the screen.
There is a simple fix for this: better slide design. If you think your text is too small…increase it. If you can, look at your presentation in the room you’ll be using and stand up the back. Can you read the information? Remember, the slide show is a tool to support your presentation and shouldn’t be a word-for-word recount. If there’s a lot riding on your presentation, then consider getting your slides designed by a professional.
“And that’s me done”
If you ever want people to remember anything from a presentation, you need a strong conclusion. Just finishing abruptly after you’ve gone through your presentation is not that. Take the time to think about what you’ve said and quickly recap. This can be as simple as listing the key points or recommendations that you discussed. It will cement your message in their minds, maximising their retention.
So when you’re preparing for your next presentation, remember to avoid these three phrases: “Wow I’m so nervous”; “You probably can’t read that slide too well”; and “That’s me done”. Remember that people don’t see how nervous you feel. Keep your slides tidy. And always finish with the information you want your audience to remember.