We all have sat through terrible presentations, whether it was the presentation or the presenter themself who were the problem. The worst presentations drive home the point that presentation skills are vital to you and your career and academic years. Mastering presentation skills is an easy feat for some, whereas others struggle with them for all their lives.
None of us wants to present badly and our worst nightmare comes true when we lose our audience to glassy-eyed stares, cell phones and other distractions that seem more interesting to them than our presentation. So from now on, avoid doing these seven things so you don’t lose your audience.
1. Giving a lecture
The word presentation is not synonymous with lecture. Lecture can have two meanings: a speech given to an audience, usually a class, about certain instructions regarding a particular subject, or a scolding regarding conduct or behavior. So if you go to a class, your teacher gives you a lecture and not a presentation. A presentation is more interactive, emotionally appealing, precise and relevant regarding a subject.
2. Losing out on emotion
Don’t just focus on numbers, facts and figures. They will make your presentation sound boring. You are going to be telling your audience something they probably do not already know. Show your audience the enthusiasm and passion you might feel on the subject, so they know you are emotionally involved and want others to join in too. Add personal touches and feelings somewhere in your delivery, because your opinion will help shape the opinion of others too.
Remember Steve Jobs? His speeches and presentations are highly praised because he left his audience in a state of awe and gave them inspiration. Remember that as a presenter your content must have emotional appeal or else you will lose your audience.
3. Not using stories
You are in a room, surrounded by peers and executives. Sure, you need to skip some stories to keep the presentation precise, meaningful and on track, but remember, your audience wants to be wowed, not lulled to sleep. You might consider adding your own personality to the presentation by adding a carefully chosen story or two. Bear in mind that those stories should be supportive of the facts and figures you are presenting; they certainly shouldn’t replace them.
4. Forgetting signposts
When you are presenting, there are key words you can use to ’signpost’ separate stages in your presentation. For example, to give a synopsis of a point, you ‘summarize’: “If I could just summarize a few points from John’s presentation…” If you forget these signposts your audience can lose the direction of your presentation and they won’t be able to distinguish its stages. These words should be memorized so you do not forget them, even if you are under scrutiny.
5. Going overboard on the design
Don’t make your presentation appear too complicated or it will just confuse your audience. If you add too many flashy images and animations to bedazzle your audience, you’ll find you wind up confusing them instead. Have faith in the principle of KISS (keep it simple silly). Add animations, pictures and videos only when you want to elaborate a point further.
6. Keeping it formal
Formal presentations lose the audience the minute they begin; keeping it a little less formal enthralls them, keeping them captivated. As I mentioned earlier, adding personal touches to your presentations, such as opinions and stories, will make your presentation less formal. Just don’t go making it too casual either.
7. Avoiding eye contact
Great presenters understand the importance of making eye contact with their audience to build trust, integrity, and connection. Many students and business professionals have a habit of looking at a wall, a desk, or a computer — everything but the audience! Build your connection with your audience and they’ll be with you all the way.