Unfortunately from long and sometimes bitter experience I can attest to the fact that there are very few people who are great presenters from the day they start.
I’ve actually sat through presentations where the presenter simply read from their notes, without looking in their audiences direction. One presenter I saw even got so befuddled with their notes they had to stop and go off stage in a fluster. Others wind their way round to the point they’re making and take so long that it feels like you’re sliding down an old-fashioned helter-skelter.
At other times I’ve witnessed presenters who obviously thought they were the cream of the presenting crop and yet lack of rehearsal meant they inflicted pain on their audience. That pain was from the obvious fact that they didn’t know which slide was coming up or whether the questions they were asked came up in a later section of the slides.
And of course we’ve all seen presentations where the presenter is so taken with their company that they waste a lot of air talking about their business, their history, their clients, their success and worst of all make their audience sit through the company video.
So if you’re looking to improve a little on your presentation skills learn from what others get wrong…
It really doesn’t matter how you do the presentation: webinar, Powerpoint slides, flipchart, video or simply standing on a stage. Never blame the technology if you fail to deliver your objectives for your presentation.
The oft-quoted “Death by Powerpoint” is not Powerpoint’s fault. It’s the fault of the wielder of the technology. The types of issues you tend to get with people who use Powerpoint as a crutch are as follows:
1) They start off running without any introductory slide or estimate of how long they’ll take
2) They don’t investigate what their audience is interested in
3) They deliver the same canned content to different audiences (related to previous point)
4) They have slide after slide of text with no images to break it up
5) They have more than about 5 bullets per slide and/or they have long sentences on the slide
6) They read from the slide verbatim without adding any thoughts related to the slide content
7) They spend too much time on each slide, or one particular one they think is important and no one else does
8) They don’t look at their audience, rather looking at the screen or their notes
9) They have large amounts of data and/or text on a slide, which tends to mean an impossible to read font
The Presentation itself
When it comes to the presentation there are aspects which only the presenter can do. And if they fail to do them a dire result is inevitable.
The issues presenters have include:
1) Not rehearsing so they’re struggling for words or ways to phrase what they’re talking about
2) Going on about them, their company or their product. Instead of talking about the things the people they’re presenting to are interested in: themselves, their company, their issues
3) Not keeping the pace of the slides reasonably fast so that people read ahead and get bored
4) Not varying their tone, pitch and energy levels during the presentation
5) Not having appropriate images to illustrate most slides, even though they’ve heard more information is retained with image and text together than just text alone
6) Not rehearsing the whole thing OUT LOUD, that way they’ll see whether they trip on words they think they say well when they’re rehearsing internally
7) Not looking at their audience or engaging them in some way
Post Presentation thoughts
A bad presenter considers themselves to be an expert and if the feedback is that some of their content wasn’t clear, well it was the fault of the audience. Others might be complacent, because the audience really liked the content and yet they know they could do better. In reality they should go back to their presentation and polish it so that it is better. Particularly so if it’s being emailed out to one or more audience members.
They never sit back with a trusted friend and see what they could have done better.
Does any of that describe you? I must admit to one or two of them, but having learnt by trial and error I’m better now! The thing is you don’t need to learn by trial and error. Learn from this. And thanks to some of the people before I’ve trained them in Presentation mastery and in the horrible pitches I’ve sometimes had to sit through for giving me these ugly examples of presentation hell!