Five Big Presentation Mistakes

People tend to forget what you do right, but they don’t forget what you do wrong.

Whenever you’re presenting, if you make any of the big mistakes that I’m about to share with you, people will remember you for all the wrong reasons.  I get the opportunity to watch a lot of presentations — and I delivered many presentations myself, and what I’ve noticed is that people tend to make some of these big mistakes which can have a huge impact on their credibility.

Here are the five big presentation mistakes that I notice a lot of people make and how to avoid them (the last one is crucial!):

1. Not practicing out loud.

The first big mistake that I think people make is they practice only in their head, and not out loud. In their head they’ve organised their ideas, but they haven’t actually made that link between their head and their mouth. 

2. Overlay complex PowerPoints.

The second big mistake is having too complex PowerPoint presentations. There are too many images, too many words. Essentially, it’s just distracting the audience from the message rather than reinforcing the message. So people end up reading the slides rather than listening.

From a brain perspective, people can only process one complex task at a time. What that means is they’ll either be reading the slides or listening to you. The issue occurs when people think their PowerPoint presentation is the presentation. But the truth is that you are the presentation. So make sure your slides support your message, not distract from it.

3. Reading their presentation.

The third big presentation mistake that I notice people make is they read. They stand behind the lectern and they read their presentation word for word rather than make it a conversation. This significantly disconnects the audience from the speaker. Remember the last time you’ve been sitting in a presentation and the person was reading to you. It doesn’t matter how elegant the words were. You probably felt like you weren’t connected with, you weren’t engaged with.

Every presentation should be viewed more as a conversation rather than a reading opportunity. Stay away from reading scripts and get into having a conversation with your audience.

In today’s currency of conversation, people have enough information. What they actually want is engagement. Engagement occurs by being authentic and somewhat vulnerable, rather than reading a script that make you look like a robot.

4. Imbalanced brain approach.

The fourth big presentation mistake that I notice is that people use an imbalanced brain approach. They have too many facts, too many graphs, too many statistics, and not enough stories, not enough metaphors, not enough images — or the other way around. There’s too much of a right brain and not enough of the left brain. So to make your presentation effective, it needs to have a balanced brain approach. Enough stories and enough facts to make it balanced. 

5. Confused context.

Now the fifth big mistake is a huge one, but it’s not so obvious. I think it is one of the most crucial things that you must get right in your presentation. In fact, if you don’t get this one right, people will get confused rather than walk away with a sense of clarity. And this fifth mistake is having a confused context. From a contextual perspective, they aren’t clear and they don’t remind their audience of their particular context.

While listening to a speaker as an audience member, so often our minds go off and we think about a whole bunch of different ideas. As a speaker you have to remind people of the context of which you are talking about, regularly.

So they’re the five big presentation mistakes that I think a lot of people make.

Now, I did leave off one — a bonus one.

I was sitting in a presentation a little while ago and there was a young guy presenting and he literally adjusted his crotch five times during the presentation.

So the bonus one is: don’t adjust your crotch (I’m talking to the boys here). That would be a massive big mistake. Ha!

Which of the five mistakes do you notice people make the most? Please comment below.

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I’m Colin! I’m an Aussie, but I’m based in Newport Beach, California.
I help entrepreneurs sell from virtual and live stages (without being pushy and sales-y)
I coach thousands of experts, course creators and coaches around the world on this topic, and I’ve also advised the biggest names including people Amy Porterfield, Alison Prince, Carrie Green, Julie Solomon  and many other industry leaders.