Are You Making These Mistakes When Giving Presentations?

We’ve all watched presentations that were painfully bad.  Remember thinking, ‘I’m so glad that isn’t me standing up there?!’  Most of us dread public speaking.  For that reason, it’s one of my favorite things to work on with people because with just a few small adjustments you can make a huge difference in your presentation skills.  

So what are the biggest mistakes people make when giving presentations?  And how do YOU avoid them?

1.    Lack passion. Presenting is 50% what you say and 50% how you say it.  Energy, passion, enthusiasm …. all that good stuff matters!  If you can’t hold an audience’s attention by being authentically energized by what you’re talking about, you’ll lose them to their smartphones, to day dreaming, or to something else.  Sometimes you have to fake passion a little by finding things about the topic you think are actually interesting to help create authentic energy in your presentation.  

2.    Memorize. People get bored quickly if they feel like you’re reading off a script in your mind.  Plus, it can really make you stumble when you forget a word.  The best way to handle a presentation is to have a few key points you’re going to talk about for each concept or slide.  The key points can be on your slides if needed but they should lead to stories and/or facts that you’ll talk about.  Exact words shouldn’t matter with what you say but rather focus on telling a story that feels natural and engaging.

3.    Talk too quickly. When people are nervous they usually speak quickly.  It’s as if they’re in a race to get through it.  I’ve definitely been guilty of this in the past.  Speed presenting is painful to watch and difficult to follow.  Practice is key here.  Work on your breathing and on calming your nerves.  Try presenting in your bathroom mirror or to your roommate, or record yourself prior to the presentation to make sure your pace is on point.  

4.    Dancing feet. For a standing presentation, there isn’t anything much more distracting than someone who dances around the front of the room with wiggly feet.  The best thing you can do is plant your feet.  If you want to move to a new location at the front of the room, that’s great but plant your feet when you get there.  Until you get more comfortable presenting, planting your feet is the best way to eliminate this common mistake.

5.    Talk to the wall.  If you want people to pay attention to you, you need to actually look at them. Looking at the wall or the floor will just show your nerves.  Work on making intentional eye contact with people.  Think about addressing the entire room and try to make eye contact with all or most people in it.  That’s the best way to connect with your audience and get your message across.  

Putting all these tips together can be difficult and feel a bit daunting when you’re preparing for a big presentation.  One of my favorite tricks to help with all this is to record yourself on your smartphone while you’re practicing.  Seeing what you’re actually doing will help you immensely to know what you need to work on before the big day.

And when it’s game time, remember to breathe and tell yourself you have the right to be there.  Giving yourself that vote of confidence will work wonders with any nerves you might feel.

Want more help with this?  My online course includes a 20-minute video on presentation skills that leave an impact plus many other topics that will help you up your game. Learn more here.

Until next time …follow me on Twitter at @MadeToHire, Instagram, and on Facebook.