If you want to attract more clients and win more business, I believe it's often as simple as being better at presenting than your competitors.
It’s the small things – that most people don’t think matter – that make the difference between a presentation that wins business or loses it.
Let me ask you a question…
Would you expect to be able to get in a car for the first time and drive it immediately without any lessons? Or give a tournament winning golf performance without working with a coach?
Probably not, yet when you reach a certain level in a company, take on a different role, or start your own business, you are suddenly expected to be able to present brilliantly.
But, nobody teaches you how to do it in a way that ensures you win business and get results. The assumption is that you will be accomplished at it already.
The 5 Biggest Mistakes
These presentation mistakes are very common, and lead to a lack of audience response that often loses business opportunities.
If you can recognise and avoid these errors in your presentations, they will be more enjoyable for all parties, and you'll connect with your audience in a way that others can't.
Mistake No. 1
Thinking it’s all about you as the speaker rather than your audience
This is a mistake I see even international speakers make. It isn’t about you and what you want to say – it’s about your audience and what they need to hear.
Think about your presentation from your audience’s point of view.
What would you want to hear about if you were listening to you speaking?
Mistake No. 2
Not having a definite outcome for your presentation.
People often understand the reason they are giving their presentation, but not what they want to achieve with it. In other words, they don’t have a clear outcome in mind.
If you don’t have a defined outcome for your presentation, how will you know it has been successful?
Be clear about the purpose of your presentation and then identify specifically how you will know it has been successful.
Failing to connect with the audience
How many presentations have you sat through where the speaker just talks at you rather than with you? Too many I suspect! If you fail to take the time to connect with your audience, your presentation will fail to produce the results you want.
We instinctively like people we can relate to, so make a point of beginning your presentation with something that everyone in your audience can identify with.
Do make sure it's genuine, though, and not made up. Otherwise it could have the opposite effect, sound patronising, and cause your audience to switch off
Giving too much information
This is one of the main reasons people find presentations boring. Inexperienced presenters frequently overestimate how much information the audience can absorb in a fixed time, and this is often exacerbated by a tendency to rely on PowerPoint slides to convey large amounts of information.
This often stems from Mistake No.1 thinking – it’s all about what you want to say, rather than what your audience needs to get.
Focus on the three key points your audience needs to take away, and then make sure you get this information across at least three times, in three different ways.
If you are using PowerPoint, aim to reduce your slides by half. In my experience, most slides are simply there as a crutch for the speaker, rather than to actually engage the audience.
Mistake No. 5
Assuming knowledge is enough
Many people make this mistake because they think presenting is just talking about what you know – that if they stand up and speak, that will be enough.
Actually, it‘s a privilege to have an audience listen to you as a speaker – it is not a given right. You have to earn their attention and this is a big mistake that most speakers make.
Just knowing a lot is not enough.
Being an expert in your field is not enough.
You have to learn how to engage with your audience.
Think about how you can provide them with some little nuggets to take away that will be of value to them.
Of course, some people will never make any of these mistakes, while others will routinely make them all. I advise considering and acting upon the ones you feel are most relevant to your presenting style, and then taking gradual steps to improve your confidence and ability.
Great presentations require practice, and in future posts I’ll be sharing lots more tools and techniques to help you become even more confident and persuasive when speaking.