Tips To Avoid Presentation Disasters [Part 4]

May 3, 2016

by Dan Solin

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In my previous articles, I’ve given advice on how to dress and use gestures to give an effective presentation. But the underlying key to being a great speaker is not to focus on yourself; it is to anticipate what the audience wants from you – and give it to them. Here’s how to do that.

This is the fourth and final installment in my series of articles on how to give an effective presentation. You can find the first three parts here, here and here.

Limit use of presentation aids

When you give a presentation, you want the focus of attention on you and what you are saying. Presentation aids – especially PowerPoint – should be used sparingly, if at all.

Use PowerPoint only to present:

  • An image
  • A chart
  • A short video

Never use it to present text, no matter how short the text may be. Ignore advice to “limit the number of bullet points” on your slides. There shouldn’t be any.

I understand the temptation to throw bullet points onto a PowerPoint slide and use it as an outline for your talk. Resist this. Yes, this practice can make it easier for you to keep your train of thought, but it’s distracting to your audience. They will be reading the slide and not listening to you.

With enough practice, you can keep an outline of your major points in your head. Your tone will be much more spontaneous and conversational than if you’re simply reading from a PowerPoint slide. Even if you lose your train of thought, don’t worry. Your audience will understand.

Your presentation will also be far more interesting and effective.

It’s not about you

I keep an index card in my hotel room and look at it before I give a presentation. Here’s what it says:

It’s not about me!

From reading my series of articles on this topic, you could get a mixed message. I’ve told you how to dress, how to gesture, the importance of being authentic and of knowing your audience and how to craft opening remarks to grab your audience’s attention.

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Tips To Avoid Presentation Disasters [Part 4]

Presentation Disasters