You’re accustomed to giving presentations. You felt well prepared, you knew your notes well enough not to have to read from them, and you weren’t nervous.
Your voice was confident, and you checked to make sure that it carried across the room. Yet, you feel the presentation could have been better. As you glanced around the room, you noticed that people were looking at their phones and the clock, playing with their empty coffee cups, and generally looking uninterested in what you had to say.
Your presentation tanked. Big time.
I’ve got news for you. It takes more than knowing your notes to give a stellar presentation. The fact is that most people go to so many conferences and hear so many talks that they now have a higher standard for speakers.
Time is valuable, and there are so many speakers and so many forms of media. Besides, the Internet (think TED Talks) has afforded us access to speeches from all around the world. People want to get their money’s worth when sitting down to hear someone speak. For your part, that means going above and beyond.
Today, we’ll discuss six reasons why your presentation may have tanked.
- Outdated Information
People have all kinds of access to information these days in comparison. Journals, magazines, conferences, the Internet and books are all options. If you’re going to give a talk on any subject, you need to give people new information—a new study, article, survey, or discovery that’s not yet widely disseminated in that industry.
Information that is inaccurate or outdated won’t help them.
- Criticizing Competitors or Others
Criticizing your competitors not only makes you look rude, it makes you look insecure. Besides, playing fair is classy. Slagging your competition or anyone who isn’t there to defend him or herself is not. Always focus on your own game, and be confident in your own abilities.
Don’t criticize someone else in your industry just because your opinions differ. Even if you have evidence to suggest he or she is wrong, it’s best not to discuss this in a speech. In most events, your audience is expecting an educational talk, not a rant.
- Not Researching Your Audience
Yes, I meant the people who will attend your talk. Not the subject of your presentation.
When it comes to speeches, one size does not fit all. Different audiences call for different nuances to your speech. You may have the same material, but can put it 101 different ways to make it more suited for your audience, so that they can get the most out of it.
A talk on negotiating a job offer will be different for fresh graduates than for executives’ right? The subject will be different, but so will the possible questions, attention span, interests, and challenges of the people listening to you.
- Reciting Too Many Facts without Rhyme or Reason
When you have too much data and information, it makes your audience members’ heads swim. Nobody can absorb that much information.
Your presentation isn’t a textbook that they can go back and re-read – the idea of a presentation is to give the highlights and to give your audience ideas and things to ponder. Consider putting in stories to connect the seemingly random facts and figure together.
- Scope out the Venue
Your speech should take into account whether you’re giving the presentation in an intimate setting for an audience of 15, or in an auditorium for 500 guests. Consider making the intimate presentation interactive, and make sure your message is broad enough to cater to the varying interests of the 500 people.
- Abrupt Endings or False Endings
Some things are best left a mystery – Santa Claus, the Caramilk Secret – but not the end of your presentation. People won’t know whether to applaud or wait for more, so you’re left with an awkward silence.
Have you ever had a presentation that could have done better? Think of the presentation and reread the tips. Is there something you could have changed?