Believe it or not, mistakes in presentations happen a lot.
In fact, whatever company we’re talking about, at whatever age, with whatever kind of employees, the kinds of mistakes they make in presentations bear a striking resemblance.
There are certain common mistakes you should avoid if you want to make a killer presentation that actually makes an impact on the audience.
So what are these mistakes that you should avoid? Well, here are 5 of the most common:
1) Your Presentation has an Excess of Information
In all of my experience with presentations, I have come to notice that most people tend to get exhausted by too much information in a presentation.
The major problem here is the difficulty we face when we try to arrive at a consensus about the amount of information that is enough.
A good rule of thumb is that whatever amount of information you think is enough for a presentation, the ideal amount is probably far less than that.
It’s a general characteristic of humans that when you bombard them with too many facts they are less likely to remember those facts. Think about that for a minute.
A good way around this problem is not to think too hard about the information you are presenting.
Think instead about the implications of those facts and their relevance to your audience. For example, it is likely that most of the ‘facts’ in your presentation will be nothing more than data.
Don’t just recite them; think about why they are the way they are and what implications they have on the future. On the one hand, you have facts; on the other you have insight. You must balance the two to have a good presentation.
2) Your Presentation is riddled with Jargon
This isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. Sometimes you need to save time, and many companies have their ways of doing this. One of the most common ways to save that is to use acronyms to communicate common business terms.
This may seem like a good idea on the surface but can actually backfire if you think about members of the audience who may not be veterans of the particular industry to which the presentation is relevant.
So, for example, if you’re making a marketing presentation and have members of the audience who are not marketers or aren’t familiar with marketing terms, it might be a good idea to explain ‘PPC’ when you mention it the first time. Tell them it stands for ‘Pay Per Click.’
When you hear an acronym you don’t understand, you are likely to spend some time thinking about what it means, which is likely to leave you distracted, which will cause you to miss whatever else follows the strange jargon, at least until you can rein your mind back to the present moment. That is definitely something you do not want your audience doing.
Be sure to know your audience and their understanding of the material you are about to present.
If you’re presenting to industry experts, jargon is allowed, though you still shouldn’t go overboard with it. If there are likely to be non-industry experts in the audience, then temper your use of acronyms and jargon.
3) The Information is not tailored to your Audience
More often than not, you are going to have to make a presentation to an audience that really has no inherent interest in the subject matter of your presentation.
If you’re from the marketing team and need to make a presentation for a budgeting proposal to the accounts department, you want to do it in such a way that it makes sense to the accounts people, not in the way that it would make sense to marketing people.
In all situations, your audience should be the focus of your presentation and not just your content. Why do they need to listen to you? How can you make yourself more interesting for them? How can you make things more relevant to them?
These are the questions you should be asking yourself.
If you don’t find a way to make your information relevant to your audience, then all of the brilliant ideas you have will die before they’re out the gate.
4) No One knows what your Call to Action is
Your presentation isn’t very different to a sales email or some kind of online advertisement. People need to know what to do when they’re done listening to you and it has to be specific enough that they can do it without difficulty.
The best way to figure out how to craft your call to action is to assume your presentation was actually successful. The audience loves what you are telling them; the next step is to give them a call to action. Make it specific enough and easy enough that they won’t feel like it’s too much work; the clearer the call to action the better.
5) Your Delivery is flat
Usually, this mistake doesn’t come on its own. It comes with the additional mistake of the presenter constantly reading directly from the slide. This is an insult to the intelligence of your audience. They can read your slides just fine.
It’s understandable that confidence does not come easily to everyone. The presentation might feel awkward and, if you’re not naturally bubbly, it might be quite difficult to call on that character in an instant. The best thing to do in this case is to prepare.
Before your presentation, record yourself on your phone and play the recording back to yourself over and over again. Listen to it and figure out what needs changing. Do as much work as you can before the actual presentation so, when it comes, it doesn’t feel as awkward.
Think of a presentation as a sales pitch. You are always trying to sell something no matter what kind of presentation you are making, even if they’re not going to buy it with cash, so focus on making what you’re saying saleable.