Everyone has his or her own presentation technique, and there are methods that work for one person that would never work for another. There are a few phrases, however, that are almost guaranteed to cause the audience to become bored or disengaged when they crop up in a presentation. Eliminating these tired phrases will improve your content immediately.
“I didn’t have time to prepare”
Even if you were thrown into a situation that forced you to write your entire presentation overnight, don’t talk about how you didn’t have time to prepare, or apologize in any other way for what is to come. It is sometimes a natural instinct to be modest, especially when you are not confident about what you are about to do or say. “I didn’t have time to prepare,” however, only serves to convince your audience that the presentation will be boring and painful or even more damaging, they are not important enough to require your preparation.
Instead, mask the fact that you are uncomfortable with any part of the presentation. Project an aura of confidence, and start by engaging the audience and stating clearly what you will accomplish during the presentation.
“There’s a lot to cover here”
Audiences can only engage with so much information. Starting out by saying you have a lot to cover sets expectations low. It implies that you won’t be able to get through all of the information, and it also implies the presentation will be data-heavy instead of value-heavy. If you really feel that you have too much to cover, prune it down to what you want the audience to take away from the presentation.
“I don’t know if you can read this”
You should know how your presentation will look from the audience perspective before the event itself comes. In addition, commenting on your presentation in this fashion sounds unprofessional.
Instead of commenting on the fact that the font is too small, you should never include font or photos that are too small for the audience to read. Avoiding wordiness in your presentation can help in this regard. In most cases, the font should be enlarged to size 50-80 when on the projector, and there should be plenty of space between lines.
“I’m almost out of time, but . . . ”
Ideally, your presentation will be timed so that you don’t run out of time. If that’s not the case, avoid rushing through all of the points you missed. Instead, take the change in stride and skip ahead to your closing points.
“That’s all I have to say”
Of these five phrases to banish from your presentations, “That’s all I have to say” is perhaps the worst. Your audience will remember how you summed up the presentation more vividly than any other part (assuming you haven’t totally lost them by this point). Your introduction and closing should be the strongest parts of the presentation, areas where you know exactly what you want to say and how to say it.
Instead of ending in a ho-hum manner, end with a concise statement that sums up your key points in the presentation. Doing so will focus the presentation and ensure that the audience understands what the takeaway is.
What methods do you use to improve your presentation skills? Share in the comments!
This post was originally published on the One Smooth Stone blog on December 18, 2014. For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org