So how do you avoid the presentation pitfalls and stand out from the crowd?
Here are my 10 reasons why presentations fail, and some advice to help you counteract these blunders.
- Lack of rapport. Make sure you talk in terms of your audience’s interests. Smile, start on time, dress appropriately for the occasion and ensure you finish on time.
- Being unauthentic. Take the time to prepare, practice and just be yourself. Try recording yourself on your phone to help you become familiar with your content and look for areas to improve how you sound. For a significant presentation you may even video yourself to improve how you look as well as sound.
- Inability to use silence. Use pauses to add impact and emphasise your key points – silence speaks volumes.
- Lack of facial expression. We have 80 muscles in our face that are capable of producing 7,000 facial gestures. Engage them and engage your audience.
- Poor eye contact. How many talks have you been to where the presenter is merely reading from PowerPoint slides? If you have to use slides, make sure they add value and aren’t just a crutch. Look at, and visually connect, with members of your audience.
- Tech-talking. Do not bore your audience with technical details that they do not need. Simplify your message. Avoid Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs).
- Lack of humour. You don’t have to be a stand up comedian. If you cannot tell a joke – then don’t. Use alternative methods of humour such as anecdotes, relevant pictures or short movie clips. YouTube is a great source of content on virtually any topic.
- Lack of direction. Ensure you have a clear structure to your speech with a beginning, middle and end, with appropriate signposts and transitions to keep your audience on track.
- Lack of energy. Counteract this by projecting your voice, varying your pace and pitch, and using gestures.
- Boring Language. Use what performance story teller, and Toastmasters champion Andrew Brammer (www.speakingwords.co.uk) calls “linguistic sparklers”: adjectives, adverbs, and rhetorical devices such as metaphors and similes.
Whether you want to raise your business profile through public speaking, or simply want to motivate your team to take on new challenges, investing some time in developing your speaking skills will pay handsome dividends.
Speaking clubs such as those run by Toastmasters International are an ideal environment to try out your talks, learn new skills and get constructive feedback to make sure that when you do stand up, you and your business will be noticed for the right reasons!
To find your local Toastmasters Club see: www.toastmasters.org
About Barbara Moynihan:
Barbara Moynihan is Past President, Toastmasters International (Dun Laoghaire club)
and founder of On Your Feet, a Communications Training Company based in Dublin www.onyourfeet.ie
About Toastmasters International:
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organisation currently has more than 270,000 members in 13,000 clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. There are over 250 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7000 members. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org