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3 Presentation Mistakes You Have To Avoid

This post is about presentation mistakes you must avoid.

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I’m sorry but I’m starting to get frustrated. And I’m due for a rant anyway.

If you are making these presentation mistakes then you’d better stop. Or I’m going to walk out. Quietly so you won’t see me.

Or I’ll just slowly stop listening.

Until all I hear is a soft buzzing of the audio equipment in the back. And the sound of a few chairs squeaking due to other uneasy victims being sucked into the vortex.

I do a lot of presentations and I’m not here to say that I am a big-time professional speaker. With the best slides and the A-list type content.

Someday Perhaps.

But I am watching you. To see what I can learn from you.

And lately I have been watching a lot of presentations. And seeing a lot of presentation mistakes. Great for me actually. To compare the good, the bad and the ugly. And to push myself to get better.

So I’ve picked three presentation mistakes that I’ve seen over the past weeks. Some at a few big events (hint, I am writing from Las Vegas. Attending the Blog World Expo). As they happen, these mistakes feel like a slowly building stomach sickness. But more than that? I feel really frustrated. That quality speakers would make these mistakes:

1.  Being Incredibly off-topic and apparently insensitive to the time of participants

Penelope Trunk offered a free webinar with Guy Kawasaki a few months ago. It was about how to be a great entrepreneur. Funny thing is that I like them both. They been recent influences on my writing and thought process. But when an hour-long webinar starts with 20 minutes of “friendly chit chat” about Twitter and other unrelated topics, I get upset. I feel disrespected. While the chat room is burning up with “When are we going to start talking about being an entrepreneur” and it goes on for 10 more minutes? I’m done. And I was. Then I unplugged. Bummer. As I was looking forward to the webinar.

2.  Trying to cram 100 slides (short novel per slide) into an hour presentation

I have seen two of these recently. One at an otherwise excellent Entrepreneur Magazine “Winning Strategies” event in Long Beach. A very smart person. And a marketing wizard. And apparently a purveyor of as many slides/words as possible. If people can’t follow you (too much content or content out of context), they will detach from what you are saying. Many walked out.  Which I don’t like to do. Because often I’m wondering whether the speaker will figure it out. And fix it.

3.  Being a big slug with no evidence of blood running through your veins

This can show up in two different ways. First, it shows as a lack of physical movement. Except those tiny mouth muscles, of course. If you can’t burn a few calories tearing up the stage, you have a problem. Unless they just re-painted the podium and your hands are stuck, get away from it. Second, it is lacking in the excitement or energy displayed in the voice of the speaker. Is this an obituary? It’s called voice inflection, folks. It tells me that something interesting is coming soon or was just dropped in my lap.

The reason this is coming out now? I saw Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) speak here at Blog World yesterday as the AM keynote and kicked things off with an amazing presentation.

He provoked me and romanced the crowd. He was loud and spoke at times like a cherry bomb exploding. And had awesome hand and arm gestures. Yes, those are important too.

Scott was relevant (room full of bloggers and social media folks). He had the right number of slides, awesome images. He also had great stories, made us laugh and allowed us to laugh a few times at him.

I was fully engaged.

And if he made presentation mistakes, I didn’t see them. Scott lived up to his brand promise: “Stop marketing. Start engaging.”

If you are looking for work, looking to make an impact at the next board meeting or needing to create a big impression at a future cross-functional team meeting . . .

Be interesting, relevant and dynamic.

Oh, and you might want to buy Scott’s book called UN-Marketing. And If you live in Orange County, Scott will be speaking November 11 at the next LinkedOC event.

I’ll be there.

What presentation mistakes give you the willies?  Or the wobblies?


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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