Common Presentation Mistakes

April 6, 2015 7:30 am

A great business presentation can inspire, inform and call a group to action.  Unfortunately, a poorly planned and executed presentation can bore and annoy an audience to the point of harming your brand image or possibly tarnishing your good reputation. What are the most common pitfalls during a presentation and how can you avoid them? Let’s look at the most common mistakes presenters can make.

Lack of Preparation
– The single biggest mistake in giving a presentation is lack of practice. The adage practice makes perfect stands true here.  Practice with colleagues who can give you honest feedback.  Practice in front of a mirror to gauge your facial expressions and body language.  And finally, practice in anticipation of audience questions.  Make sure you know your topic well enough to go off script and answer detailed questions about your content.  During practice sessions be sure to make eye contact, speak clearly and have the ability to give the presentation without the use of your slides to guide you.

Not knowing the audience – Whether your audience is an intimate group of 20 or a large corporate group of 200, know the audience.  Do some research on your audience. Why are they here? How much do they already know about your topic, and what do they most want to learn from you?  Talking far above or far below their comprehension level can create confusion or boredom.

Content Mistakes – There are several content mistakes that you will want to avoid.  Data or content overload is fairly common with speakers that are passionate about their topic.  Use visuals and anecdotal stories to help get information across instead of overloading the audience with data and bullets on your slides.  In addition, know your content well enough that you do not read directly from the slides.  Many speakers who do this leave the audience wondering why they just didn’t print off the slides and skip the presentation altogether.  Finally do not overload your audience with “takeaways.”  Studies show that audiences lose focus after three points.

Technology Mistakes – Most technology problems occur because of a lack of planning.  Check and recheck with your venue about equipment and technology set up.  Familiarize yourself with the room, technology and equipment far in advance if at all possible.  Spend a little extra money and have many different connectors at your disposal “just in case.” Check lighting, sound and layout of the room prior to your presentation.

Slides and Media Mistakes – Choose your slides and visual content carefully.  If it doesn’t enhance what you are saying then remove the slide.  Too many flashy visuals or pictures can detract from your overall message.  Choose a pleasing color palette and whenever possible choose custom pictures instead of stock photography.  Make it unique and show off your company’s personality in your visuals.



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