Coaching & Development Solutions

How To Avoid Making The Worst Mistake In Delivering A Presentation

Last year I attended a networking event with a featured speaker. It was well organised at an attractive and comfortable venue, and the attendees were professional people who were interesting to talk with. Despite all of these factors the event was a disappointment due to an abysmal presentation. The speaker spoke at length about his company's history, the products they sold in the past, the products which they want to sell in the future, and intricate details of how they worked. His talk was littered with jargon and technical phrases, and I could see the attendees looking around the room in boredom. If there was a polite way to escape I would have done so.

He made the worst mistake you can make in delivering a presentation, assuming you arrive clothed and there are no explosive bouts of flatulence, in making it completely speaker-centric. The audience could not take anything useful from it.

In contrast, I heard a presentation last week by Celynn Erasmus of the Resilient Energy Center. She offered six practical ideas on improving your resilience and energy which any audience member could try. The talk was full of useful tips and easily established her knowledge and credibility, and naturally encouraged people to work with her. It was a great example of how to deliver a talk and I was happy to provide a brief LinkedIn recommendation, and hope to meet her again.

It can be tempting to become speaker-centric when making a presentation. After all, we normally want the audience to buy into our ideas, products, or services. However, if all we do is focus on our own aims and needs, instead of finding something useful for the audience, then we can lose any connection with them. There are many techniques to consider in making a great presentation including body language, vocal tone, and pace. However, one aspect is key: make it about the audience.

A few ideas which could help with that include:

  1. Consider the problems of the attendees, or the obstacles which prevent them getting what they want. If you aren't sure then ask – people are often happy to describe their problems!
  2. Identify a few useful things which you will give the audience in your talk to help them solve their problems or overcome obstacles. These could be ideas, tools or pieces of information.
  3. Minimise the introduction and personal or company history. A little is useful, but a lot will lose people's interest.
  4. Involve the audience to make the most of the knowledge in the room, and avoid people sitting passively for too long. When people are alert they will be better at remembering the good advice you offer.

About The Author

Alasdair Graham is the founder of Apex Discovery and a coach who helps leaders and businesses grow. If you found this blog post useful then please share it.

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