Did you know that, although the Wright Brothers had full monopoly on the aviation industry in 1905, they were never able to fully capitalize on the opportunity? Within 15 years of taking first flight, they were practically out of business. There is a lot to be said about their business sense and in particular their ability to engage their audience and win their trust. You can read a great article about this on How the Wright Brothers Blew It
It goes to show that no great idea can take flight without a convincing presentation. A presentation is a very powerful business communication tool. Doing it well can turn skeptics to believers. Do it ineffectively and you risk alienating and distancing your audience forever.
This has nothing to do with your content. Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago, as I walked into the meeting room to attend a presentation, I was hit with an overwhelming smell of fish. Apparently, the room had been used for a lunch meeting prior to this meeting. The presenter was oblivious to the smell and the discomfort it caused the audience. For the next 45 minutes, I imagined what it would be to smell fresh air again. I am not exaggerating a bit here.
We tend to do presentations on auto pilot and always put content first. No doubt that content is important. But, the environment that you present it in, has a huge impact on how well it is received.
Here are 10 things you want to avoid in your presentation.
1.There is nothing worse than sitting for a presentation in a room which smells foul. Take the effort to “air” the room out, spray it with cologne, pick up any rubbish left from a previous meeting and tidy up. It goes a long way and shows the audience that you care.
2. I am not a big fan of lunch meetings. Lunch does not need to take time, so it’s better to have a break for 15 minutes. If you don’t have a choice, I would suggest not eating while presenting. Not only does it look clumsy, but talking while eating is just bad manners.
3. Good presenters don’t sit during their presentations. You are in the lead and all eyes are on you. That is why it is critical that you stand and then deliver your presentation. This may be uncomfortable but you can walk around slowly.
4. Avoid over-relaxed body postures like hands in the pocket or leaning back too casually against a wall. It’s good to be relaxed but you are the one in the lead. Don’t let your audience think that you are not interested in talking to them.
5. I cannot count how many times I have come across presenters who like to read their slides verbatim! This is such a crime and you are wasting the time of your audience. It might be better just to send the slides by email. Instead, intrigue the audience with the story behind the slides.
6. Have you included audio or video in your presentation? But did you check that all the connections are working? You will be surprised how many of us assume that all wiring will work when it should. Step in a few minutes early and double check everything. Adjust the volume and be ready.
7. Your laptop has crashed and you have no backup of your presentation. I have personally done this myself and cannot stress how important it is to be neurotically backing up your slides. It might be a good idea to also email the slides to a colleague for safekeeping.
8. Make sure your laptop has enough battery for the presentation. If not, ensure that you keep your laptop charger. There is nothing worse than your laptop blanking off in the middle of your presentation.
9. Over-animating your slides, especially when they come with a “woosh” sound is not a good idea. Fade or appear are animation types which I like the most as they are clean and sophisticated. Be choosy and discreet in the use of animations.
10. The biggest thing to avoid would be to yawn. It is the ultimate signal that you don’t care or are uninterested. Try to get a good night rest before the presentation. Else, black coffee always works.
A presentation is your chance to shine. So, make the most of it. Be more aware of yourself and your surroundings and you will notice how this helps you get more focus and attention to your great content.