“Be so good that they can’t ignore you” – Steve Martin
Do you remember the last time you gave a presentation in front of an audience?
Was it ‘The Perfect Presentation’ with no room for improvement? If you answered “No”, kudos to your honesty.
Presentations have become a part and parcel of our life – especially if you’re a business owner. Airbnb raised about $326 million from top VC’s like Sequoia Capital, SV Angel, and even Jeff Bezos by creating a simple presentation of just 10 slides which explained the entire business model. Consequently, millions of investors use the Airbnb’s ‘Investor Pitch Deck’ as the #1 guide for pitching.
Effective presentations are an important tool, as it greatly impacts how your personal/brand image is perceived by your audience. According to a survey conducted by Presentation Panda, creating and delivering outstanding presentations increases your success rate by 3x. Thereby, effective presentation skills are crucial for your success.
There are so many things that go wrong while presenting right? You exceeded your time, the equipment didn’t work when you needed it to, or the audience didn’t connect with your message. Also, there’s always something that can be improved- the design, structure, or usage of appealing colors.
Here are the top 5 presentation mishaps which can be easily avoided:
WITS i.e., What’s in the slide
Anything too much has too little impact on the viewer. Most presentations are filled with too much text, too many ideas, or too many images, making the entire presentation cluttered and ineffective.
#Tip 1 – Here’s a presentation thumb rule – the audience should be able to comprehend your slide within 3 seconds. The best way to achieve this is to have a single idea presented in each slide with not more than 3 sub-points per slide.
#Tip 2 – Pictures speak louder than words. A relevant picture along with a one-word description is sufficient to let the audience know what you intend. Not just that, it moves the limelight from the presentation to YOU.
This captures the audience’s attention and it builds curiosity and they are now keen to hear from you.
#Tip 3 – If you are a confident speaker, you can also add one or two questions in your slide at the start or the end. This helps initiate interaction- breaking the monotony and giving you a great chance to position yourself, win your audience, and build credibility.
Most of us have the basic design options and we tend to over/under-use them. We use diverse fonts throughout the presentation, have disordered alignment, and employ dull or overly bright slides. Inconsistency makes the presentation look untidy. All of these mistakes make your presentation visually unappealing to the audience. It takes 50 milliseconds to form the first impression and 94% of it comes from design.
#Tip 1 – Presentations are usually given in a formal setting. So, try to use shades of colors that contrast well with each other.
#Tip 2 – Psychological researchers have proved that bright colors are connected to the release of dopamine in the body, which makes people feel happier. Using red, orange, dark yellow, green, black for fonts in contrast with a lighter background makes the presentation more pleasant to look at.
#Tip 3 – Use consistent font, align all slides similarly, and use the same color throughout the presentation to create a greater impact on your audience.
Time, equipment, and stance are the most common areas of error during a presentation.
#Tip 1 – Time is a valuable resource that most of the presenters exceed and it’s mainly due to two reasons: lack of structure and lack of preparation.
Nobody ever complains if the presentation is specific and short right? The audience’s span of attention is short. You need to put an effort into structuring your presentation so that it has only the most important things which serve a purpose.
#Tip 2 – Equipment such as the presentation remote, display, or the projector might go wrong and the best way to avoid it is to test it before your presentation. Replace the batteries of your remote to prevent it from dying on stage.
#Tip 3 – Are you often confused as to where you should stand while presenting? Some stand in the middle of the stage and end up blocking the presentation; some stand completely towards the side and end up not being noticed by the audience; and few do the gravest mistake of all – turn their back towards the audience to read the slide.
All of these approaches are wrong. Place your stance at a 45-degree angle from the presentation, giving you enough visibility to what’s been displayed on the screen.
So the next time you present, do a simple TES check to avoid unexpected mishaps.
Say NO to Jargons
Vocabulary is a fancy asset one can have. However, it turns into a liability during presentations if most of the audience do not understand what you mean. Use of jargons i.e., uncommon words, unnecessarily complexes the message you want to deliver in the presentation.
What you say in a presentation should be simple enough that even someone who is not related to your topic can understand the message with ease. Presentation is not a test of how much you know but of how much your audience got to know. Strive towards clarity while presenting!
A presentation’s ultimate aim is to deliver your message to the audience in the most efficient manner possible. Most of the presentations fail to convey their information effectively simply because they place all their chips on ‘content’ rather than ‘connect’.
Know this – the audience does not care about YOU. They care about what you offer them. The first 30 seconds of your presentation determines whether you capture the audience’s attention or not. This is the exact point where you need to show the audience what is in it for them.
How do you do that?
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘data tells, story sells’ right? This is the exact formula you need to apply in any presentation because stories are one thing that always helps us connect. We make decisions emotions and not logic. Storytelling is an art, and as a presenter, it is your art to weave all your content into a story to win the hearts of your audience. The next time you are up for a presentation, look at everything – right from the PPT color to the end take away message – from the perspective of the audience.
Follow these tips and you will surely be prepared to deliver a memorable presentation. Remember, there is only one judge to effective presentation – the audience. Tailor your presentation to them.