Making a positive, memorable impression is an enormous aspect of professional presentations. However, when we’re up on stage–under the magnifying glass–we might not be cognizant of how we’re being perceived by the audience. Here’s a few very common tendencies people tend to fall into without realizing, and ironically these are often done as an attempt to be more likable and relatable.
1. Don’t Make Jokes at the Expense of Others
This is a very commonly used ploy to win over the majority of the crowd at the expense of its minority. However, anyone who’s respect you want will see through this. It’s a cheap trick you should not stoop down to. Humor is a great tool during a speech, but either make it constructive, or even better, make yourself the butt of the joke. As long as you’re not too harsh on yourself, this is a great way to be relatable to the audience.
2. Don’t Dumb Yourself Down
If you’re attempting to come off as more colloquial or conversational, be careful not to take it too far. Sure, you don’t want to be rigid or robotic, but talking to an audience the way you talk to your friends on a Saturday night won’t score you any points.
This is a fine line to balance. You may have an intensely technical background, and you might have to present on a complex topic that goes along the same lines. In this case, where you might have to actually simplify your ideas a great deal in order to relate them to your audience, it’s important to be very cautious aobut the tone you’re using. As we all know, nothing is quite so infuriating as being spoken to like a five year old. Keep in mind that you’re presenting to a room full of professional, of fully grown adults who deserve to be spoken to as such. Don’t dumb down. Simplify.
3. Don’t show off with your vocabulary
On the contrary, don’t try to dazzle your audience with your faux-intellect by using as big of words as possible when showing your PowerPoint slides. Presenting is about communication and relating to your audience. Using unnecessary language might distract or confuse, and you’ll likely come off as obnoxious.
No one wants to watch Woody Allen squirm nervously on stage while when they’re looking to gain meaningful information in a business setting. Most likely if you don’t think about your posture, body movements and posture, then they’re probably not working toward your advantage. Make sure your movements are slow, meaningful and deliberate. The confidence you’ll exude in doing so will go a long way.
If you can’t tell what the overarching theme with all of this is, it’s that you should present yourself as well as possible, but don’t falsify your image because your audience will see right through it. Be yourself, but make sure you’re being the best version of yourself possible.