You’ve spent time preparing your slides and researching content. You stayed in last Saturday so you could practice your transitions. Now it’s time to deliver. Here are five things to avoid when giving a presentation:
- Slow pace: Your audience shouldn’t be more interested in the clock than the presentation you’re giving. Keep things moving be energetic, and keep track of time. Another way to keep the pace is to share a relevant story or show a memorable video. Well-told stories and well-made videos are memorable and tap into the emotions of the audience, which will help you keep everyone’s attention.
- Robotic tones: Use emotion and don’t speak in a monotone voice. Think about to the most engaging teachers you’ve had. They switched up the speed of their speech, their rhythm, and their tone. You should be excited about the message you have to share. If you’re not, you may need to mix it up to stay emotionally engaged in what you have to say. One way to do this is to share a personal story. You can talk about a crucial moment in your career that pertains to your presentation and how you’ve overcome different obstacles to achieve your goals. You can talk about a meeting you had with a thought leader in your industry that changed your perspective for the better. It will be easier to speak with emotion when you are sharing your own experiences with your audience.
- Negative body language: What message are you sending when you’re slouching or staring at the tiles on the floor? Pull your shoulders back and stand upright. If you have confidence in yourself and your message, your audience will too. One way to look and feel more confident is to stand with a wide stance (slightly wider than shoulder-width apart). When you stand in a strong and steady position, you will feel like you have control of yourself and your actions. Being mindful of your non-verbal cues will also increase the level of trust between you and your audience. Remember that confidence is contagious.
- Reading directly from slides: Since you’re giving the presentation, there’s a good chance you’re the expert in the room on the topic at hand. Your slides are there to help you stay on track and to provide a flow for your audience to follow, not to replace you as the presenter. Practice beforehand so you know what slides are up next and can expound on each slide. Resist the urge to turn your back to your audience and read directly from the slides you prepared. One way to avoid looking at the slides on the screen is to use notecards. Write down 1-2 sentences on a notecard for each slide to help you remember what you want to say. That way, you can face your audience without getting lost.
- Panic mode: Don’t forget that confidence is contagious. You’ve taken time to prepare and you know what you want to say, so don’t panic. If you start to feel nervous, take a little pause and a deep breath. When you take a moment to breathe from your core, you give yourself a chance to focus and compose yourself. Deep breathing can also reduce your stress level and lower your heart rate, as well as improve your self-control, awareness, and memory recall. Remember that you’re the expert, so take confidence in your preparation.
The next time you have to give a presentation, don’t panic! Avoid these five common mistakes, and you’ll get your message across powerfully and professionally.
Or, if all five tips seem overwhelming, choose one to focus on at a time. Every little step forward means progress as a presenter.
Do you have a friend who’s giving a presentation soon? Share this list with them!