Presentations are a great opportunity to win new customers, grow business from existing ones, raise your profile, inspire your colleagues and gain investment.
They are also an opportunity to lose business and lower your profile.
So why do presentations go wrong? It’s usually for one or more of the following reasons:
- Not enough time was spent preparing
- No thought was given to what the audience wanted to hear
- The presenter spent too much time on trivial stuff at the start – and tried to be funny
- There were too many slides
- Containing too many words
- Trying to get over too many messages
- The presentation went over on time and people got bored
Some of the excuses I’ve heard for defending what was clearly a poor presentation include:
I was only told about this last night.
In the car on the way here it was under 3 minutes (for a 3 minute presentation that on the day took 8).
How was I to know the screen would be that small.
My spouse /partner said my opening joke was really funny.
No one told me the audience was expecting only 5 minutes.
I should have had ‘clicker’ lessons.
Most presenters usually know quite well in advance that a presentation opportunity is coming up. So there is no excuse for a poor presentation.
Ok you are nervous but so to a degree are even the most experienced presenters.
Which is why the best presenters prepare throughly and practise hard. They check the venue and equipment in advance, they find out who will be in the audience, they understand that they need a powerful attention grabbing opening and that slides should be minimal with few words. They are ruthless editors when it comes to using Powerpoint.
They know that three is the most key messages the audience will absorb so they plan carefully what those three are.
They understand how important having a good, concise summary and finish is.
They carry prompt cards just in case they lose their place – no scrambling through sheets of A4 for top presenters.
And then they rehearse. And time those rehearsals. And rehearse again. Not enough to be word perfect but enough to not mess it up.
Good luck with your next presentation, although if you prepare well and practise the luck factor is not that important.
If you need help presenting let me know.