Avoid the Top 9 Presentation Mistakes for a Smoother Presentation

Posted by Natalia Valencia on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 @ 04:04 PM

It is critically important for anyone who gives a presentation to have the right presentation skills to be successful. A presenter needs to know how to effectively communicate his message to his audience so they know exactly what he is trying to tell them. It’s all about building solid relationships, no matter how many people are in attendance at your presentation. It is your chance to show them you care about their problems and you know how to fix them.

While every salesperson knows how important this communication is, there are still many who give poor presentations that don’t get results. Why is that? The reason is simple – they are making some of the most common mistakes that can turn a great presentation into one that won’t provide the results they desire.

Many people spend more time determining what they are going to say instead of how they are going to say it. In fact, a majority of presenters spend 90 percent of their prep time on the content instead of the presentation. This often leads to misinterpretations by the audience because the presenter didn’t portray the information in the most effective manner. When you understand what the top mistakes are and how you can fix them, you will see better results for your presentations.

#1 – Apologizing from the Start

It doesn’t matter what may have gone wrong, including running late or forgetting something important to your presentation, one of the worst things you can do is apologize to your audience at the start of your presentation. This creates a negative overtone to your presentation and doesn’t reflect well on you as a presenter.

When you apologize to your audience, you are essentially making yourself look weak to your audience. This means you are better off ignoring what has gone wrong and simply move on with your presentation. Don’t expect to take up extra time to make up for what you missed based on being late. Instead, shorten your presentation, taking care to keep the important information. If you have forgotten the handouts you intended to use, either leave them out entirely or promise to send them out after the presentation as if this was your original intent.

Another reason not to apologize is the use of the word “but” that is often attached to an apology. When you use this word, you are telling the audience there will be negative consequences to them for your mistake. This can leave a bad taste in their mouth and lose their attention.

#2 – Using a Guilt Trip

Your presentation may not be going as planned, but you don’t want to involve your audience in a guilt trip to pay attention what you will say in your presentation. Your audience doesn’t want to sit through a presentation that pushes your own agenda. They want to know you really care about their needs and you are there to meet those needs. As long as you keep the presentation about what your audience needs and how you can help them, you will have their attention, even if you spend the whole time talking about one point.

#3 – Making Excuses

It can be tempting to use excuses for why you are underprepared or why you are having difficulty getting through a portion of your presentation, such as not enough sleep or you are feeling ill. However, your audience doesn’t want to feel sorry for you; they want to hear what you have to offer them. If you spend your time making excuses, you are less likely to achieve sales through your presentation.

Your customers are there because you have something they need or want. When you talk about yourself, you aren’t filling that need. Therefore, it is best to forego the excuses and focus more on the job you set out to do. Chances are people aren’t going to notice you are tired or don’t feel well unless you point it out anyway. The important thing is to act like you are happy to be sharing this important information with your audience.

#4 – Reading Your Slides

Some people use their slides as their presentation notes. They don’t provide any additional information than what is on the slides. However, this is a big mistake. When your audience notices you are simply reading your slides, they will wonder why you are even there. After all, they are perfectly capable of reading the slides for themselves.

While you can certainly use your slides to guide you, it is important to only include a basic outline to your slides. Save the details for your own speaking. Provide all the critical information your audience needs to know verbally to elaborate on the bullet points on your slides. For the most effective slides include:

  • Up to three bullet points per slide
  • One line per bullet point
  • 28 point or larger font
  • No more than five slides for each 20 minutes of your presentation
  • Use graphics and pictures to illustrate your slides

Also, it is important to organize your slides so you address the client’s problems and needs early in the presentation. Your marketing tactics should be saved for the end of the presentation. It is critical for you to show your customers that you care about their needs and convince them you are the one who can help them. They don’t want to spend the entire presentation listening to you brag about your company.

#5 – Lacking a Smile

Your goal as a salesperson is to make your audience feel better about themselves and their problem because of your presentation. If you aren’t smiling and excited about what you are presenting, it will be difficult for your audience to get excited.

Therefore, you need to make an effort to smile through the presentation, though you must be careful not to give the appearance of a forced smile. A positive attitude will provide you with better results than a neutral or negative demeanor.

#6 – Turning Your Back

Turning around and talking with your back to the audience provides an unprofessional impression to your audience. It also indicates you are reading from your slides instead of presenting the information naturally. Turning your back can also be considered rude, making it critical to never do this in front of your audience.

Always position yourself where everyone can see you clearly and you aren’t turning your back on anyone. This can be made more difficult when your audience is positioned in a ‘U’ shape around you. In this situation, make sure you position yourself at the opening of the ‘U’ and only move inside if necessary. Always deliver your most important points dead center to make sure everyone hears them well.

#7 – Talking Fast

Some people talk fast because they are nervous. Others do it as a way to keep their times short. Most people who do this are actually aware they talk too fast, but they don’t do anything to remedy it. The fact remains if you talk to fast, people will have trouble following you and understanding and retaining what you say.

Practicing your presentation can help alleviate the nervousness and help you learn to temper your voice. While you don’t want to talk too slowly, you also don’t want to talk to fast. Changing your pace occasionally can help you keep your audience interested without going too fast or too slow. One of the best ways to practice so you can hear what you are doing is to record yourself and then play it back.

#8 – Making It about You

One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is making the presentation about themselves instead of the audience. If you are someone who is prone to nervousness in front of a crowd, make sure you learn your nervous habits and put a stop to them. You need to learn to focus on your audience and forget you are even part of the equation.

It is important for you to connect with your audience. Avoid looking at the floor or your podium the entire time. Instead, look around, make eye contact with each person, smile and gesture. You want to make yourself personable to your audience. They should connect with you and feel as if you can really help them. The more you connect, the more successful your presentation will be.

#9 – Stretching the Truth

You know your goal is to encourage people to buy what you are offering. However, you shouldn’t have to stretch the truth to achieve that. Don’t make use of stories you have read on the Internet or heard through word-of-mouth. Some of your audience members will know these stories aren’t your own, which creates credibility issues. It is also important not to make up statistics or other information about who has used your products or how. You want your audience to trust you. When you are making things up, you will quickly lose that trust.

By all means, you can make use of real-life stories, statistics and other information that relates to your product. As long as the information is legit, they will provide the boost you need to get more sales.

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