3 Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing Your Next Presentation

In leadership, you may find that you’re often tasked with giving presentations. The preparation you put into them can make or break how successful they will be. Remember, truly memorable disasters don’t just happen. They require a special blend of misunderstanding and misguided effort. Here are three mistakes to avoid so your next presentation won’t be a disaster:

Mistake #1: Believe in Magic

In this case, you show up hoping that a coherent, eloquent, useful presentation will magically appear once you start speaking, avoiding any type of preparation and simply winging it.

  • Undesired Result: Everyone is amazed by the presentation because they expected more. They’re also bored and disappointed. They may even become upset because an unprepared presentation insults the audience by wasting their time. Unprepared presentations sound like, well, unprepared presentations.
  • Desired Result: Prepare by identifying the goal for your presentation. Design a presentation that achieves that goal, and talk with key members of the audience about their expectations. Once you’ve prepped, rehearse.

Mistake #2: Memorize Your Speech

Here, you spend untold hours committing every precious word to memory so that you can recite it even if awakened in the middle of the night.

  • Undesired Result: You sound like a machine. And if you stumble on a word, you can become stuck–speechless. I’ve seen this happen, and it’s painful.
  • Desired Result: Learn your presentation. Yes, write a script. Memorize the first and last sentences and then practice giving the presentation without looking at the script. Practice many times. Eventually, you will learn how to convey the key ideas in a natural, normal way.

Mistake #3: Talk about Yourself

In this instance, you focus entirely on yourself. Tell about your background, your credentials, and your history. Tell your story. Just talk about yourself. Make the presentation all about you, yourself, and your life.

  • Undesired Result: They listen politely. If you manage to be entertaining enough, they may actually pay attention. Otherwise, the audience reacts by thinking, “So what?”
  • Desired Results: Talk about the audience. That is, talk about what they need and how they can achieve it.

What other presentation tips do you suggest? I’d love to hear your feedback.



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