The three most common mistakes when giving a presentation

Think about the presentations you have sat through. Think about the good ones, the ones that enthralled you and kept your attention. Now think about the ones that bored you rigid, that had you looking at your watch to see how much longer this was going to go on.  What made the difference? Why are some presentations so much better than others? What did the poor presenters do wrong?

The three most common mistakes, made by presenters around the world are:

  1. Using the slides to remind you what to talk about next.

This is probably the most common mistake which people make and its effect is devastating for many presentations. By relying on the slides to remind you what to say next you are turning the whole process on its head. You are no longer giving a presentation; you are merely describing what the slides say to those members of the audience who can not read!

Slides are visual aids, the purpose of which is to provide a non-verbal element of the presentation , which helps to reinforce what the speaker is saying.

You should always start talking about a topic before you bring up the slide.

  1. Making the presentations about their company and its products and services.

Even if your audience are ostensibly there to hear about your company’s products and/or services your presentation should not just be about the features and attributes of your products, services or your company as a whole. It should be about how your products and/or services affect your audience members, what benefits they will gain by using them, what problems they will overcome or what opportunities they can exploit.

Don't start with a company overview! Start by telling them what you can do for your audience, backed up by the attributes of your company, products and services.

  1. Displaying all the bullet points on a slide at once

There are two reasons why the answer to this should be " no" .  Firstly, lists of bullet points do not make good visual aids.

Secondly, if you display the full list of bullets and then start to talk your way through each of them one by one, the audience will get ahead of you. While you are talking about the first bullet, they will be reading all the others and then they have to wait for you to catch up with them.

If you have to use slides with bullet points, display the bullet as a summary after you have talked through the point. This reinforces what you have just said, rather than pre-announcing what you are going to be saying.

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