Whether you’re studying, working, or stuck in that awful limbo in-between, also known as job hunting, you’ve probably had to give a presentation at some point. The experience is nerve-wracking for some. Others have their audience eating out of the palm of their hand within the first 10 seconds. In any case, everyone’s had their fair share of rookie mistakes presenting. Here are our top five:
#1: Failing to research your audience
Not only does this result in a presentation that turns off your audience, it also makes you look extremely lazy. Even if you have no time to research your audience properly in advance, you still have one golden opportunity right before you take the stage.
Simply mingle with the participants. Casual conversations let you unearth what’s on their mind, top interests, and any problems they need solving. You can then tailor your presentation according to their needs and engage them immediately.
#2: Failing to collect your research
If you think you can persuade your audience with the sheer force of your charisma (like Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field) think again. Even Steve Jobs had to make Keynotes presentations that included well researched information.
Always assume you’ll forget your researched information on presentation day. Solution: Collect it and save it. While there are not many PDF-Editor apps that help you collect information from the web, some like NoteLedge web clipper do and even let you store YouTube videos right within your presentation. Break up the monotony with interactive notes and multimedia aids to keep your audience interested and awake.
#3: Failing to centralize
If you assume you will forget a critical piece of information, it’s safe to assume you’ll also forget where you stored it. Solution: collect everything related in one central document (NOT folder!). In the awkward situation when you forget where you buried some factoid, CTRL-F saves the day in just a few seconds.
Centralizing in one file has another benefit. Using PDF Markup or NoteLedge, you can turn all research notes, images and videos into one concise slideshow. It’s perfect for organizing key information, or as a quick-and-dirty presentation to update on project progress.
PowerPoint and Google Slides are reliable enough for centralizing presentation research, but if you dislike transcribing vocalized ideas, your options are limited. This is especially problematic when your boss is dictating notes faster than you can say, “Can you repeat that?”. Next time, try an advanced PDF tool that lets you insert audio notes.
#4: Failing to plan
Is planning to fail – you’ve heard it a million times. And that’s because it’s true. You can pack in the most amazing content and still lose your audience because your delivery makes no sense.
Solution: rehearse your presentation verbally. When you find yourself stumbling over mouthfuls of jargon and sentences that stretch to eternity, you’ll automatically cut out unnecessary fluff and force yourself to drive home only the key points. Arrange your key points in logical sequence. An effective presentation follows a simple, logical structure like this one.
#5: Failing to keep things simple
A presentation should be concise, yet impactful. This means sorting through excessive information. Think “less is more”. Strive to maintain one key point in each slide. Ideally you should hammer home no more than three takeaways in your conclusion to maximize audience retention.
Have you made other rookie mistakes in your presentations? Share them with us here!
Also published on Medium.