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3 Tips for Handling Unexpected Events During Presentations

In spite of preparing for your presentation, unexpected events can still break your concentration. According to the often-quoted Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

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Some presenters panic when something wrong happens, making them lose their audience. If these mistakes are left unaddressed, your discussion can turn into a complete disaster.

Avoid tuning out the crowd and maintain your professional image with these three tips:

Stay Calm

Mistakes are bound to happen, even in the presentation world. In the case of unexpected slip-ups, panicking only clouds your judgment and impairs your insight. You may try to remedy your mistake by doing everything at once, or apologizing to the audience, but before you do that, step back from your thoughts and rationalize the situation.

Keep your composure. The show must go on. Don’t lose your credibility by responding poorly to unpredictable mishaps.

If you accidentally tripped while walking, maintain your poise and continue discussing your topic. It’s natural that some of your audience will laugh at you, but if they see you recover quickly without being bothered by it, they’ll soon forget it ever happened.

Avoid giving negative reactions like frowning, walking out of the room, or gesturing uneasily. In cases like these, having a neutral expression will help mask any feelings of anxiety or inadequacy that might be controlling your actions and emotions.

Come Prepared

Flash drives may flounder, batteries may drain, and files may get corrupted. Impress your audience by solving these uncontrollable crises with enthusiasm. Add a dash of humor related to your pitch to engage the audience and buy yourself some time to think up of what to do next when something goes wrong.

A sour attitude will only worsen things. Admit to yourself that there are some circumstances that will always be out of your control. But even though you accept this fact, try to minimize inevitable mishaps as much as possible.

Have a backup plan to address the problem in case it comes up. Bring a spare flash drive, pack extra batteries, and keep duplicate copies of your files. What else are cloud-based drives for?

Don’t Dwell on the Problem

Pointing fingers to who or what caused the problem won’t get you anywhere. Stay professional and focus on solving it. Provide an immediate solution along with a composed response and anticipate your listeners’ behavior.

While you won’t want to be too pessimistic about how things will turn out, or how people will react, you need to prepare yourself both emotionally and mentally for any backlash that a presentation snafu might bring. Strengthening yourself against unfavorable responses and situations will help you decide with a clearer perspective on things.

Instead of getting angry or feeling guilty, go back to building your pitch by affirming your message. The way you handle yourself on stage in the face of such challenges will boost your speaking credibility.

Conclusion

Whether you’re delivering a big sales pitch or a start-up presentation, it’s your responsibility to own every good or bad of it. Handle the unexpected circumstances with professionalism by following these three tips.

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References

10 Ways to Make a Positive First Impression during Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2014. Accessed July 13, 2015.
Murphy’s Law.” Freie Universitat Berlin. Accessed July 13, 2015.

 

Featured Image: “3D Emergency Fund” by Chris Potter on flickr.com

3 Presentation Mistakes Alienating You from the Audience

A successful presentation is the result of three different things: 1) a compelling presentation content 2) an effective and well-designed PowerPoint 3) engaging and interesting delivery.

If you fail to deliver any of these primary tasks, your presentation will fall short. To avoid presentation mistakes, create a concrete plan and prepare accordingly.

Recently, we’ve been talking about how you can improve your content and adjust your PowerPoint slides. Today, it seems fitting that we take a closer look at how you can keep your presentations engaging.

Take a closer look at the five presentation mistakes that might be costing you your listeners:

Mistake #1: Boring introductions 

Some presenters tend to forget the importance of a great introduction. A presentation needs a hook that’s attention-grabbing.

You can’t just take the stage and stammer a long introduction. Avoid a spiel where you introduce yourself, the topic of your presentation, and apologize for how long it’s going to be will never work in your favor.

To change it up, focus on giving the audience a glimpse of the message you want to share. Share an anecdote that can serve as a springboard to your discussion. Start with a unique statistic.

Another option is to give your prospects a chance to connect with the presentation by sharing a story directly related to your topic.

Mistake #2: Filler words 

It’s normal to feel nervous before a presentation. However, you have to make sure your anxiety doesn’t translate to what you do or say in front of the audience.

In a compilation on Six Minutes, renowned speech evaluator Andrew Dlugan collates the opinions of several public speakers on one of the most common presentation mistakes—filler words.The habit of saying words like “um” and “you know” is hard to break, especially when you’re burdened with the pressure to give your best.

Cut back on your use of filler words by taking time to rehearse and hone your presentation skills. There’s no shortcut to this, so be patient in learning to become a better public speaker.

As you rehearse, pace yourself. The more you rush through what you have to say, the more you’re likely to forget what’s next and resort to use unnecessary words to fill the silence.

Mistake #3: Causing unnecessary distractions

A great presenter is constantly aware of what he does in front of the audience. If you want to make sure the audience pays full attention, shake off distracting habits.

Apart from filler words, you might be unconsciously causing a commotion that can shift the attention from what you’re saying.

Whether you’re constantly adjusting what you’re wearing or calling to an assistant to skip to a specific slide, it’s the little things that can take the audience out of the experience.

Make sure you’re well-rehearsed and aware of how you present yourself on stage. Always be alert and present to avoid any visible slip-ups.

A successful presentation is the product of an engaged and interested audience. Keep their attention on the message you’re delivering by avoiding these 3 presentation mistakes.

 

References:

Are… Um… Filler Words… Ah… Okay?Six Minutes. Accessed March 10, 2015.
Be a Presentation Virtuoso with Deliberate Practice.” SlideGenius, Inc. February 26, 2015. Accessed March 10, 2015.
The Complete Presentation Checklist.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 25, 2014. Accessed March 10, 2015.

 

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What’s Wrong With Your Sales Presentations?

Sales presentations are a crucial step to your reaching out and communicating with prospect clients. During such an opportunity, you get to make them understand the importance of what your brand can do for them.

Because of this, it’s important that you make the most of the time you’ve been given. Delivering a successful sales pitch leads you one step closer to sealing the deal with a new client.

But what if your sales presentations aren’t helping you reach that outcome? Let us lend you a hand by taking note of some mistakes that could cost you incredible opportunities:

Mistake #1: Lack of preparation

Most people try to prepare for sales presentations as quickly as possible, thinking they can simply “wing” most of their pitch.

Sure, you might have taken the time to prepare your PowerPoint deck and all the points you want to cover, but this isn’t enough to get you across the finish line. If you really want to succeed and impress your prospects, plan and prepare every aspect of your presentation.

Take the time to do some research and prepare your materials long before your scheduled meeting.

Plan how you’ll go about your presentation to make sure you don’t go over the time you were given. Be meticulous about every step, or you might end up with a half-baked pitch.

Mistake #2: The hard sell

Your ultimate goal is to seal the deal with your prospects. However, your sales presentations shouldn’t sound like a desperate bid to get hired.

While hard selling has its own benefits, Gigaom contributor, Celine Roque, explains that its straightforwardness may not always work for everyone.

Explore other avenues of pitching your product or service. Let your brand should speak for itself. Work hard to present all the significant features that are relevant to your audience by appealing to their experiences.

During your preparation, try to learn as much as you can about your prospects: What particular challenge would they want to solve with the help of your product or service?

After that, identify a few attributes that would be important to them based on what you found out through your research.

Mistake #3: Poor delivery

You can have the most inspired presentation ever, but it won’t be any good if you can’t deliver properly.

As compelling as your points might be, you need to make sure you sell them as best you can.

Don’t waste a good opportunity by mumbling to yourself and avoiding eye contact. Face the crowd with confidence.

If you’re feeling a bit nervous about it, we have plenty of tips that might help you shake off your anxiety. Rather than run away from your fears, face them and use them to your advantage.

Your audience doesn’t know your presentation the way you do, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

You’ll be surprised how much you can do when you put on a brave face.

Mistake #4: Ignoring the audience

It’s hard to trust and engage with a presenter who talks without much regard to his audience.

If you don’t take the time to pause and ask questions, your prospects might feel like you’re talking at them, rather than to them. This defeats the point of engaging them.

Instead of this bad habit, make them feel like you’re in a productive conversation.

Remember that you have to leave your prospects with a favorable impression of your brand and organization.

A disengaged presenter won’t do that. Make eye contact and be pleasant throughout your presentation. Observe their reactions and ask for their comments if it looks like someone might want to share comments.

Mistake #5: Bad PowerPoint designs

Finally, keep in mind that PowerPoint design plays an important role in the success of sales presentations.

As we’ve mentioned time and again, majority of people are visual learners. Seeing your pitch play out in front of them as engaging visuals can really add impact to the message you want to share.

Step out of the mold and customize your design. You can also browse through our portfolio for inspiration and contact our expert presentation designers for some extra help.

 

References

Design Ideas: How to Improve PowerPoint Templates.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 9, 2014. Accessed March 3, 2015.
How to Shake Off Your Pre-Presentation Jitters.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 6, 2014.Accessed March 3, 2015.
Roque, Celine. “Hard Selling vs. Soft Selling: Which Approach Do You Use With Clients?Gigaom. February 25, 2009. Accessed March 3, 2015.
The Visual (spatial) Learning Style.” Learning Styles. Accessed March 3, 2015.

 

Featured Image: David Goehring via Flickr

Presentation Mistakes to Avoid When You’re Nervous

An overwhelming majority suffers from glossophobia or the fear of public speaking. But regardless of how 5% of the world’s population might feel about it, presentations remain a permanent fixture in the world of business. You might not want to, but there will come a time when your career requires you to face an audience and share your ideas.

If you feel anxious about this prospect, there are plenty of ways to work through your nerves. There are also some signs you can watch out for. Take note of these presentation mistakes and learn the best way to avoid them:

Presentation Mistake 1: Apologizing too much

When you feel too nervous about a situation, you might start apologizing for things you think the audience finds inadequate about your presentation. The way your slides look. Why you look a bit under-dressed. A whole list of things you haven’t prepared for. While this might make you feel better, it can also hurt your credibility as a presenter. It can also bring attention to the flaws you’re trying so hard to deflect from or cover up.

Solution: You have nothing to worry about if you’re well-prepared. Your audience will form their opinions no matter what you do or don’t do. You just have to work hard to give off a positive impression. Aside from careful preparation, make an effort to practice your speech before the real deal.

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Presentation Mistake 2: Avoiding eye contact

Eye contact is crucial to effective communication. The same thing goes for presentations. Eye contact plays an important role in building rapport with an audience. But when you’re feeling nervous, you tend to avoid it altogether. You’d rather look straight ahead or focus on your notecards. This could hurt your presentations significantly. You’ll seem distant, unprepared, and even unprofessional.

Solution: If you’re presenting at a business meeting, you can glance around the room and focus on the familiar faces in the audience. Seeing friendly faces will allow you to feel more at ease. Once you’re comfortable, you might even feel confident enough to make eye contact with others. If you’re presenting to a larger group, it’s better to try this trick: Instead of looking straight into someone’s eyes, look at their foreheads or the top of their cheekbones.

Presentation Mistake 3: Rambling and speaking too fast

When you’re feeling anxious, you might want to finish your presentation as soon as possible. When you suffer a mental block, you tend to ramble off tangent just to keep the presentation going. Both situations will leave your audience feeling confused. If you talk too fast and rush through your slides, your audience might not remember anything. If you ramble and go off topic, your audience will soon lose interest in what you’re saying.

Solution: Make sure you know all your key points. Study the presentation you prepared and make sure all points are clearly explained in your speech. Anytime you feel stuck during your presentation, glance up at your slides or your notes to remember what you have to say. The more you rush, the more you’ll be prone to committing mistakes. Learn to take deep breaths when you feel overwhelmed or jittery.

Plenty of people suffer from public speaking anxiety. But your nerves doesn’t have to get in the way of a successful presentation. Take note of these presentation mistakes and you’re on your way to delivering a strong message.

 

Reference

Inside Glossophobia: Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking.” The Creativity Post. December 04, 2012. Accessed September 01, 2014.

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Presentation Tips: Common Blunders and How to Avoid Them

Presentations can be pretty stressful. Whether it’s because of nerves or a lack of preparation, some of us will commit mistakes at some point. Unfortunately, these blunders can cost you a lot. Don’t let a few blunders get in the way of the message you want to share.

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Inspired by an article by award-winning blogger Geoffrey James, we’re going to share some common mistakes and great presentation tips to avoid them.

Here are a few presentation tips to keep in mind to avoid any future blunders:

Don’t: Apologize or make excuses

You didn’t have enough time to perfect your PowerPoint deck. You arrived late to the meeting. Your equipment isn’t working properly.

When things go wrong, people tend to do one of two things: apologize profusely or try to save face by making a bunch of excuses. Both methods are not recommended when starting a presentation. By doing so, you immediately set a negative vibe for the rest of your presentation. When you say, “I’m really sorry about how bad my slides will look, I barely had time to put them together last night” or “I apologize for arriving late, I’ll just speed through my slides real quick,” you’re basically telling your audience that they’re about to see a bad presentation.

Do: Improvise and adjust accordingly

When something goes wrong just as you’re about to begin your presentation, the best thing you can do is act as if nothing has happened. Simply go about your presentation as planned and adjust accordingly. If you were late or needed to spend a few more minutes setting up the projector, try to condense your presentation to avoid asking for extra time. Take note, thought, that condensing your presentation is not the same as speeding through it. Shorten your presentation in a way that no key details will have to be skipped over.

Don’t: Read from your slides

Reading from your slides is the worst mistake you can make during a presentation. What’s worse is if you have to turn your back to the audience to see the screen and read from there. You will definitely lose your audience. Once notice what you’re doing, they’ll stop listening and just read the slides themselves.

Do: Review your presentation in advance

Remember: your PowerPoint deck should only highlight your key points. It should not serve as a teleprompter. If you’re afraid you’ll stumble during your presentation, make notes you can glance from as you address the audience. Keep the audience interested by showing them that you’ve mastered what you’re talking about.

Don’t: Talk too fast, start fidgeting, or say filler words

Not everyone is comfortable with speaking in front of an audience. Those who suffer from nerves will likely talk too fast, start fidgeting, or fill silent gaps with “um” or “like”. While you certainly can’t help how you feel, these nervous ticks will distract your audience. It will also distract them from grasping the message you want them to receive.

Do: Avoid nerves with some relaxation exercises

Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can calm your nerves for your presentation. We covered them in a past discussion about public speaking anxiety. The trick to relaxation is good breathing. Find a quiet place to meditate at least thirty minutes before you’re set to present.

Don’t: End with a simple “thank you”

There’s nothing wrong with thanking your audience for their time, but that’s not the only thing you should leave them with. The ending of your presentation is just as crucial as the beginning. If you start strong, you should also end strong. Walking out of a presentation with a simple “thank you for your time” won’t help drive home your main goal. In a few hours, your audience will probably forget what your whole point was.

Do: Give your audience a strong Call to Action statement

Make sure the goal of your presentation is clear to your audience. Leave them with a statement they can consider and act on. Use language that’s active and straight to the point.

There’s nothing wrong with committing mistakes. The best you can do is learn from your blunders and use it to gain more momentum the next time you present. Take note of these presentation tips and convert your bad habits into expert techniques.

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You Might Be Guilty of These Presentation Mistakes

Sitting through a bad presentation is as exciting as watching a documentary about sloths moving in slow motion.

So unless your intention is to put your audience to sleep, you may want to check if you are guilty of these presentation mistakes:

Lack of Preparation

There’s more to committing this mistake than making you look like a bumbling professor. When your audience notices that you are ill-prepared, it’s likely that they will put your credibility into question. This is important as people are keen on listening to what a speaker has to say if they know he is credible.

Besides, you owe it to your audience to research your topic and organize your materials. It’s the professional thing to do since they took the time to listen to you. Whether it will take five minutes or five hours, communication trainer Bill Rosenthal suggests that you prepare for your presentation thoroughly. Being prepared will help not only in holding your audience’s attention but also in answering questions that may come after.

Uninteresting Slides

There are a number of ways for presentation slides to fail in engaging audience attention. The most common ones are the use of boring visuals and too much text. Visuals can help enhance your presentation so make the most of them. Just make sure that they support your points.

Use images that look eye-catching but not too off-putting that they detract from your message. If you need to use tables or graphs, simplify them by including only the essential elements. Problems also arise when the slides are too wordy. This usually happens when the speaker crams all his points into the slide deck so he won’t forget anything.

You may want to remember that your slides are not your cue cards or teleprompter. Try to keep everything simple. Don’t fill up your slides with too much information, most of which are probably in your handouts anyway. Take some time to look at your slides and determine the unimportant details to remove.

Failure to Connect with the Audience

Strictly sticking to your talking points is a sure way to bore your audience to death. To get your message across, you should know how to connect with them and break the ice. This means you need to be a bit spontaneous. Liven up your presentation by sprinkling it with short anecdotes, pop culture references, or funny quotes.

Try to limit your use of humor, though. What you consider funny may be viewed as offensive by another person. To get an idea on what will work on your audience, consider their age, gender, professional background and other relevant details. Know the ranks or positions of the people who are going to attend. You should also be aware of any cultural expectations or religious conventions that apply to your audience.

In short, plan your presentation from your audience’s perspective. Often, the best way to excel in something is not to remember what to do, but to be aware of what not to do. So let these three mistakes serve as a reminder whenever you are putting together a presentation.

 

References

100 Pop-Culture Things That Make You a Millennial.Vulture. September 24, 2013. Accessed April 21, 2014.
Rosenthal, Bill. “The Only Way To Prepare To Give A Presentation.Forbes. June 19, 2013. Accessed April 21, 2014.
Presentation Tips: 5 Easy Ways to Establish Your Credibility.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2014. Accessed April 21, 2014.