5 presentation mistakes to avoid as a presenter
It is widely quoted that as many as 30 million PowerPoint presentations are delivered every day, whereas the application itself is installed on over 1 billion computers.
This by no means is a figure worth marveling over, since the quality of presentations made using PowerPoint and other presentation applications has been the center of much debate, with some claiming that PowerPoint should be banned altogether. In the year 2005, the United States military officials even likened PowerPoint to an ‘internal threat’.
Many people who are experts at their craft can find it hard to present basic concepts, ideas or processes regarding the work they do. Making a presentation can be confusing. Making it interesting can be even harder. However, you can make your presentations better by making sure that you avoid five basic presentation mistakes.
1. Don’t ignore your audience
A bit of homework regarding the pitfalls of presenting before a specific kind of audience can help you avoid embarrassments like death by PowerPoint, which is a term used for describing badly made PowerPoint presentations.
Before you make your slides, plan your speech or note down ideas for your presentation content, make sure you do a bit of homework regarding your audience. You can look for homogenous traits, things that appeal to the local culture and avoid topics that might offend your audience.
Many presenters make the mistake of ignoring the shared values of their audience, which can result in people getting a negative impression or ignoring your presentation because they might deem you as insensitive.
2. Your presentation should be clear and concise
You don’t want to make a presentation that is confusing or lacks cohesion. Your audience should know by your presentation topic or after the initial 2-3 slides about the purpose of your presentation and the concepts, ideas or processes that you are going to discuss. The audience can lose interest if your introduction drags on too long.
There is no harm in adding an element of mystery to your presentation, however, this should be in the wake of a clear explanation of the overall purpose of the presentation.
For example, if you are presenting a presentation to venture capitalists, you might want to start with an inspiring story, which may be briefly explained with your introduction and later concluded in the end, directing the audience your call to action.
3. Avoid confusing and overpowering visuals
You might have relevant content in your presentation slides and may even be good at expressing your ideas, however, overpowering visuals and confusing slides can ruin everything for you. Back in the day, there was a craze for using flashy graphics and over the top animations. But that concept died nearly a decade ago.
With the introduction of modern and material design in application development, the concept of ‘less is more’ now holds more value. Minimalist content, with clear and concise information is not only the modern presentation trend but also the logical pattern to follow.
To make things easy, you can embed videos, add subtle animations and make use of professionally designed slides with a minimalist outlook. What you would want to avoid is flashy animations, cluttered slides and over the top transitions or animations embedded in your slides.
4. Dysfunctional or malfunctioning equipment can ruin your presentation
Many times, we see a presenter making a compelling speech, only to result in equipment malfunction breaking the momentum. This might be in the shape of a mic that goes offline or a video that simply won’t play. It is also quite common to take several minutes for presenters to get their slides up and running.
You should account for potential issues related to equipment malfunction by testing devices and file compatibility beforehand. If possible, you might do that a day prior and then before the start of the event. There is no harm in double-checking file compatibility, mic, presentation remote range and other types of equipment.
Once you suffer from a break in momentum, it might be nearly impossible to regain the interest of your audience. Therefore, make sure your equipment is functional to avoid a major presentation disaster.
5. A weak call to action is equivalent to failure
At the end of any presentation, the presenter tries to convince the audience towards something important. Even if it is to make the audience think about a specific topic to find their own conclusion. The call to action is one of the most important parts of a presentation.
Your call to action must be powerful enough to make your audience act or at least consider your pitch. You can use the rule of three by repeating a specific word or phase three times to register it with your audience.
You can also add your pitch at the start and end, as well as associate a famous quote with it to make it memorable.