1. Opening with an apology
Has this ever happened to you? Your presentation file won’t open, the projector won’t turn on, you didn’t bring the right connector… That’s ok! Shit happens. If you apologise from the get go for how this might affect your presentation, it makes you sound like a victim. Nobody wants to do business with a victim.
Take a breath, feel your feet, and summon your best cool as a cucumber look. Of course in the fire of the moment this may seem difficult, but if you communicate that you can be cool under pressure, you’ve already marked a point with your audience.
2. Going overtime
Everybody’s time is mega precious so don’t overstay your welcome…
It’s best to preemptively rehearse your presentation and adjust the amount of content to the time you have before going on stage. But if you have misjudged how much information you could deliver in your allocated time, trim on the fly by giving the essential points without going into details.
3. Reading from the screen
One of the absolute worse things you can ever do is using the screen as your teleprompter… Your audience can either pay attention to what they’re reading, or pay attention to you. Not both.
You can use the screen for visual cues if you can’t recall what you’ll say next, but remember its purpose: it is there to help your audience remember your ideas, not to help you remember your own information.
4. Text overload
Using simple graphics and visuals to illustrate an idea are always going to be more effective than words… but if you are going to use text or lists anyway, remember to keep your number of bullet points to an absolute minimum. Some say 6, some say 4… Seth Godin, in Really Bad PowerPoint, actually recommends “no more than 6 WORDS per slide. Ever.”
So remember: less text, more visuals.
5. Talking like John Moschitta
If you feel the need to talk fast because your presentation is too long… trim the fat.
If you notice your pace is too fast because you are nervous, try this to slow yourself down: before starting each new sentence, take a breath in. It may seem interminable to you, but time flows at a different speed when you are on stage or in the audience. This will make you look look more calm and confident, and give you extra head space to make your next point.
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