Presentation Mastery

4 Ways to Destroy Your Next Presentation

Let me ask you this: If you had to give a presentation in front of a couple of hundred people that you manage, would you juice up your PowerPoint, and say, “I know you can’t see this but…”?

I just don’t get it. If you knew they wouldn’t be able to see it, why in the world would you plan to show it?

I’m ranting because I sat through 5 “short” regional presentations this week while I waited to present the closing session to about 300 sales professionals. The group sat attentively while the first guy bored them. When the second one got up, a few brave souls left to refill their coffee. By the third guy, half the room got up. By the time they had a break (thankfully, just before I was to speak), there may have been 40 people left in the room.

What went wrong?

  1. Too many mind-numbing numbers on too many slides: Just give me the number you want me to know. Blow it up to the largest font you can show on the screen. Talk about that number.
  2. TMI: Too much information: When you have one shot to talk to a large group, what do you want them to know? Most likely your job is to congratulate and motivate. Save the education for a follow-up email or a smaller working session.
  3. Q & A at the end: Boring! One person’s question is another person’s reason to go to the bathroom. The real questions don’t get asked in public anyway. Make yourself available in a designated room, set up an anonymous comment/question box, give out index cards before the session and sift through them to answer the questions that matter to the majority of the group, but don’t stand there and say, “Are there any questions?” You look foolish when there are none and the reason there are none is that the group knows better than to get you started. Besides, asking “Are there any questions?” is bad form. If you’re going to ask, at least say, “Who has the first question?”
  4. Bad attempts at being funny. It’s almost funny to watch a typically serious and dry executive attempt humor. Almost but not really. Everyone just feels bad… for you and for themselves. If you aren’t funny in real life, what makes you think that you’ll be hit with some sort of divine intervention when you’re presenting and nervous? If you aren’t funny, go with your own strength and forget the comedy act. Humor has to be planned and practiced. The best type of humor is the true stuff. What funny, cute, clever, interesting stories do you have that help anchor your point? Even Jay Leno relies on funny newspaper stories and other real life events to add humor. And he certainly doesn’t attempt the monologue without practicing it a few times. Neither should you!

Want more? Check out MSDN Blogs to watch some powerfully poor presenters.

What else destroys presentations? Tell us what you think

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