Attending a presentation the other day, I was reminded of some of the common mistakes presenters make. Here is what came to mind, and what you can do to enhance your presentation skills.
Text heavy slides: Boring and difficult to read. There’s no need to fill the screen with your information. Use an outline format, with a list of bulleted items. Glancing at a bulleted point should trigger the paragraph or two of information in your mind, which you then convey verbally.
Presenters who resort to reading their slides haven’t rehearsed enough (or at all). Always make time to rehearse your presentation so most of the material is committed to memory. Have your notes nearby so you can glance at those as needed. By all means, do not just stand there and read the copy off the slides. That adds nothing to the presentation.
Reading off the screen: If you absolutlely must read from the PowerPoint file, position the laptop monitor so that you can view it while facing the audience. This presenter had positioned the monitor in a convenient spot. However, he waited until about 1/2 in to start using the monitor.
Talking while facing away from the audience: Often caused by reading off the main screen. We also see this with presenters who use whiteboards and flip charts. Make sure you’re always — or nearly always — facing your audience while speaking.
Insufficient eye contact: Move your body and head so you take in the entire audience. Some presenters get planted in one section of the room, and focus most of their attention in one direction. If that’s you, work on it.
Speak clearly and loudly: Eliminate the filler words (“um” “ah” “er”, etc) and speak loudly enough to fill the room. Large rooms, especially those with high ceilings, require extra oompf on your part.
Treat each presentation as if it’s the most important you give this year. Your presentation skills will improve accordingly. You will be that much more effective, and your audience will appreciate the effort.
For more on this subject, see Eliminate filler words for a more effective presentation and More tips for an effective presentation.