5 Most often made mistakes during presentations


Some people simply seem gifted with the ability to speak in public. While others struggle through nerves and stutters when giving a presentation, others just come up, entertain and inform their audience in an admirable way, seemingly effortless. And on top of it – the audience ends up doing exactly what the speaker intended. Mission accomplished. Why can’t we all be like that?

The strength of your message is for a great part concealed in the way it is presented to the audience. CFO South Africa listed the 5 most often made mistakes during presentations, and attached some vital advice for improving your presentation skills.

The presentation doesn't sell itself
Every presentation is aimed at selling something. Regardless of whether you are trying to sell an idea, a service or a personal story, as a presenter you always take on the role of a sales man/woman. Even when you give a speech for somebody who retires, you are still trying to sell the qualities of the retired person to your audience. Even if you really only provide your audience of information you want to share - no other intentions whatsoever - you will still need to sell your audience the willingness and conviction to listen to you. In short: every presentation is about selling something. Be aware of it, and go for it!

What is the goal?
Most presentations end with either a loudly applauding audience, or one just staring at you blankly. It's up to you to decide which of the two it will be. Before even getting on stage, you should ask yourself this one simple question: "What will the audience think, feel or do after my presentation?" If the audience, after your presentation, does not know the answer to that question - and neither do you - you have failed as a public speaker. Before you start, make sure you know exactly where you want your audience to be and what they should doing after your concluding remarks.

The speaker fails to address his/her audience personally
Many presentations contain heavy usage of the words 'I' or 'we'. Wrong. The most important word used in a presentation is 'you'. Roughly, the balance between the two should be 80/20. When you starting using you in your presentations, you shall find your audience more involved and interested. It's the ultimate way to transform your presentation from a monologue to a dialogue.

The presentation is too static
When you are given a present wrapped in old newspapers and looks like no attention was given to the way it was decorated, you will most likely find the gift less appealing than one that was wrapped in nice paper and a colourful ribbon. A presentation has the same principles - what you say is strongly tied with how you present it. Make sure your attention is focused at both aspects of your presentation; just focusing on what you say is useless if you do not pay enough attention to how you say it. Be aware of your non-verbal communication too, which is just as important for your audience to do as you tell/sell them!

The presentation is a synchronization of your PowerPoint presentation
Using PowerPoint in an inefficient way has made more presentations fail than any of the above common made mistakes. PowerPoint can absolutely be a good tool for a presentation, but only if not utilized wrongly. Speakers using slides run the risk of their presentation being a mere repetition of what the slides already state. In these situations, the audience has to choose between 1) looking at the screen, 2) looking at you and 3) reading the hand-out. Most often they will not choose to look at you, unfortunately. If you choose to use PowerPoint for your presentation, make sure you keep your eyes focused on the audience at least 80% of the time, and only very rarely at the screen. Plus: never ever turn your back on the audience!

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