Are you presenting to colleagues, customers, or are you on a stage in front of a large audience? Then you should definitely read this. Why? Because the following 5 mistakes are made by a lot of presenters, even by the most experienced ones. I often see professionals falling into the same traps when it comes to presenting… And although your charisma, your posture and a flawless delivery are the ideal conditions to ensure a successful delivery, if the presentation, which is designed to improve the speech by adding visual impact, is not at all impactful, the audience’s attention will quickly wander around. Therefore, always avoid the following mistakes at all costs:
- A very important one is the 250 / 120 ratio.
We read at a speed of approx. 250 words per minute. However when we read something out loud, we only do it at a speed of 120 words per minute. This means the following: if you just ”drop” a whole phrase on a slide, the audience will read it TWICE as fast than you are reading it out loud. The result? The audience reads ahead of you, then they look back at you, whilst you’re still reading the phrase. The effect? An audience which disconnects from the presenter and a decrease in attention span.
- The presentation must SUPPORT YOU, and your message.
Therefore do not let it take over you. Make sure it is supporting your story and very importantly, the presentation is supposed to be your visual aid, not your overall visual. YOU are the one the audience should focus on, not your presentation.
By far my MOST favorite one: If bullets are killing people, bullets are killing your presentation. Yes, yes, let’s say it again: if bullets are killing people, bullets are killing your presentation. Instead of using bullets, make sure that text appears on the screen as you go ahead with your presentation. You DO NOT need bullet points, if anything they will make your presentation visually heavier and they will not add anything to it. Your presentation is not an email you send out, where you need to visually emphasize on a few different points.
- The 16:9 / 4:3 formats.
If the screen is rectangular (this is called a 16:9 screen projection format), NEVER use a presentation which is ‘’not filling the screen’’. Meaning do not use a 4:3 format, as it will leave the sides of the screen empty. ALWAYS check in advance the screen / projection before you present. In general nowadays we use the 16:9 format (every LCD TV, Laptop or most of the projectors around), therefore please make sure your presentation format will also be 16:9.
- Clicking at the screen.
So you have a presentation ‘’clicker’’ which you use to click throughout your slides. Perfect! You should NEVER EVER click the buttons of your laptop, that’s just a no-go. But then, if you are using a clicker, why do you point it towards the LCD screen, or the projection screen? The clicker isn’t linked to the TV or to your screen, or to the projector (in most cases). No, it is connected to a laptop which is usually in a different place than where the screen is. Or it is connected to the Front of House (the show production area, from where the technicians take care of audio, video, queue, lights and so on during a conference). So please stop clicking at the screen, as it has nothing to do with your clicker connectivity.
There’s a LOT more. These 5 tips however, I guarantee you, you won’t find in most articles about public speaking and presenting. Why not? Because, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, even the most experienced speakers make these mistakes.
About the author: Bogdan Manta is Senior Content Manager at MCI Amsterdam, specialised in corporate storytelling and concept design. He has 15 years of experience as an adviser in the areas of concept creation, content development, product launch and strategic engagement of key audiences. As a Certified Speaker Coach, Bogdan has also extensive experience advising C level executives on how to create engaging presentations and highly impactful speeches.
Whether you are looking for ways to uplift the overall experience, boost engagement or activate your audiences, MCI can help you achieve your goals. For more visit us here.