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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

6 Worst Presentation Mistakes you must avoid

I got this in the mail today as a follow-up of a webinar recommended to us. While I do consider myself a Powerpoint & Presentation Expert of sorts, this is still a good checklist of mistakes to avoid. Paste it infront of your desk and look at it when you are putting your next deck together or going into your next live presentation.

Preliminary work before you start creating content… focus on avoiding mistakes #1 & #2.  To do this, design your deck outside of powerpoint, maybe OneNote or a whiteboard, and then use that to create the deck. If there was one great habit I took away from Mu Sigma (in the early days), this was it.

Mistake #1 - Failure to learn about your audience.
Tip - focus your time on your audience/customer and not about your ideas. Actually answering this question will help make sure the deck has an impact. This will also help you decide if a deck or a meeting is worth your time. 

Questions to ask...research prior to building your deck
1 - Who will attend?
2 - What do they really want?
3 - Why are they participating?
·         The learner, here to learn.
·         The vacationer, good hour to burn/hang out.
·         Prisoner of wars, someone else made them come so they have to be here.
4 - Do you need to establish credibility?
5 - How much time?
6 - Specific measureable benefit?
7 - Likely objections?

Mistake #2 - Lack of a clearly defined objective. (very, very hard)
Tip - if you don't know what you want other's won't know either
Tip - state your objective first & include reasons for meeting.

Possible reasons…
What do you want - what will you ask for?
What's in it for the listener - what do they get?
Example, 'By purchasing this software your company will save $1.3M a year'.

Mistake #3 - Too much data (and I am guilty of this when time with the client is limited and am trying to communicate a lot of good work we have done: Note to Self: Break those into two separate presentations if you have to, don't mix them up and of course synthesize key messages and communicate)
Tip - all presentations should be built around max 3 things only - THREE (or 4,5 … you get it.)  These TALKING POINTS are the pillars/framework for the presentation.

Why 3 things and nothing more?
Memory & Impact.
Distill many into few (Summarize)
Lead with your best stuff!

Mistake #4 - Failing to excite.
Tip - script out what you want to say in the beginning and end (especially), and rehearse it

Excite by …
A gee-whiz fact, a powerful story.
Focus attention on key issues
Grab their attention

Mistake #5 - Death by PowerPoint (put as little as possible - no more than 6 words across, 6 lines down).
Tip - three things to use PPT for … HINT the preso isn't the deck you ARE the preso, otherwise just email.

Main things to remember about powerpoint...
1 - visualize ideas (it's a visual aide) … use imagery and not words
2 - used to highlight key points only;  it's not a data dump
3 - impress people since lots of decks are pathetic (so, why don't you just email to your audience?)
4 - never use powerpoint in a handout?  If so, why are you presenting it?

Example - how big is an acre of land?  Visualize with an image vs. just stating a metric, etc.

Mistake #6 - Ending with inspirational deficit.
Tip - end presentation with a simple question aligned with objective.  Ask someone to agree with you, make a decision, to do something. A presentation/meeting/deck that doesn't get acted upon is a real waste of your time and theirs. This is a great way to ensure action.

Example - what, if anything, would prevent you from going with my recommendation?

While I did attend the webinar, thanks to my colleague Kevin C for putting this great summary together (italicized content above) and saving me the work of putting this together from memory.

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