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5 Presentation Blunders Guaranteed to Turn Off Your Audience

Posted by Louellen Essex on September 18, 2014 in Communication

We’ve all sat through presentations while struggling to stay awake. Maintaining the attention of busy staff members who attend countless meetings can be challenging. Facing an audience of professional colleagues at a conference where expectations are high is daunting. By avoiding the following common presentation snafus, you can capture your audience and deliver your message with impact.

1. Too Many Poorly Designed PowerPoint Slides
Reading through a set of slides does not make an effective presentation. Slides keep the focus on the screen, rather than on you, the presenter. When overdone, they bog down the message and create boredom for the audience. Use slides to enhance your message rather than distract from it. Photos, illustrations, cartoons, video, or bulleted phrases add interest, while allowing you to take center stage, explaining the message.

2. Poor Eye Contact
Don’t get stuck looking in one direction throughout your presentation, or focusing too much on your notes. Sweep the audience with eye contact, pausing to have a mini-conversation for a few seconds with each participant. Make each person feel you are talking directly to him or her. If the group is intimidating, find a friendly face or two, and then begin speaking to them. Cue yourself to look in all directions by placing a post-it note near the computer or on top of your paper notes.

3. Running Over the Allotted Time
Avoid talking longer than the audience expects you to. There is “beauty in brevity,”
A short, tight, well-designed presentation is not only refreshing, but also respectful of other people’s schedules. Keep your eye on the clock. Ending a bit early can give ` participants more time to ask questions, drawing out the information they want to know more about and encouraging interaction.

4. Not Tailoring the Message for the Audience
Even though you have given the same presentation before, remember that each audience is unique. Ask yourself, “What does this group need to know most about my topic? What is their experience level with the information? Are they likely to respond favorably or not? What barriers might I have to overcome? Use your analysis to edit your presentation for each group you are facing.

5. Lack of Enthusiasm for the Topic
While the message may be interesting, a lackluster delivery greatly reduces the positive impact. Energy can come in a number of ways. Add more vocal variety, rather than using a monotone. Pick up the pace. Generate humor through a funny story or visual. Use more facial expression to animate your message. Smile. Let your interest in the topic be more visible. Keep in mind the reasons your audience needs to know what you have to say.

The overriding solution to these five presentation blunders is good preparation. When you know what you want to say and have practiced, you free yourself to engage more fully with your audience, delivering a presentation guaranteed to be well received.

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In these times of rapid change, leaders can never stop learning.”

Dr. Louellen Essex