I get to see a lot of presentations, as do many of you. Unlike most of you, I really have to focus on what the person is saying and how the message is getting out because that’s what I do as a presentation skills coach.
So, instead of giving you the tips, here are some things I’ve seen lately that you want to NOT do. These are so annoying to your audience. Trust me.
These are no-no’s:
1. Look at your visual. Yes, you can glance at it to remember what your next point is, but you are there to connect with your audience. The more time you spend looking at the screen, the less attention your audience is paying to what you say.
2. Give TMI. We’re swimming in data, tell us what we need to know, and no more. If we want details, we can ask. Keep your talk as short as possible and your audience will love you all the more.
3. Fidget. For goodness’ sake, keep your hands out of your pockets and off your hair! If you have trouble with this, hold a clicker, or some prop that’s relevant to your talk. Ultimately you want your hands to just be there at your sides, unless you’re using them to make a point. You could hold a small ball in your hands, I’ve seen it done effectively, but you want to tie in the ball to your talk in a meaningful way.
4. UHMMMM. If you’re an uhmmer, you need to stop. Now. Replace your uhm with a breath. Silence is fine; it even adds drama to your presentation. If you’re not sure if you have this problem, ask someone trusted to count your uhms. It’s simply a nasty habit.
5. Monotone. In my experience, monotone speakers don’t realize how they come across (that’s why I record my clients as they speak.) If you suspect you may be monotone, ask someone. Like the uhm problem, awareness is the first step in overcoming this. You are sounding bored. Are you bored? Maybe you need to assess your message and why you’re giving a presentation that you’re not excited about.
6. Nervous pacing. Some speakers pace so much and so fast I get seasick watching them. It’s great to “work the floor” as the saying goes, it’s not great to pace like a husband whose wife is in the delivery room — that’s a sign of insecurity. Talk from one point in the room, and move to another, depending on the layout. Nonstop motion is probably not a good thing.
7. Rambling. People who ramble usually have no fear of public speaking. That does not make them good speakers. A lack of organization shows you really don’t give a rip about your presentation, and the audience my extend that to decide you don’t really care about them either. Get your message into points, make them, and then sit down.
The good thing about being a presentation skills coach is that awareness + commitment = vastly improved presentation in an incredibly short span of time.