5 Reasons Your Last Presentation Bombed

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At the Presentation Advisors blog, I’ve tried to equip you with as many tips and tools as possible to make your presentation go smoothly. Of course, we live in the real world (at least most of us), and presentations are rarely, if ever, perfect. I’ve even written about a few times where I’ve not only dropped the ball, but also watched it roll down the hallway.

Here are 5 reasons your last presentation went over like a lead balloon, and some helpful tips to avoid them next time.

1. You didn’t respect your audience’s time

Just having your audience show up to hear you speak is a gift, so treat them as you’d want to be treated. If you’ve promised to only take one hour, then only take one hour. In fact, take 40 minutes and have an open and honest discussion for 20 minutes. Make sure you’ve practice your delivery enough times that you know exactly how long it takes to get through your entire presentation (don’t rush through or skip any slides). You may have something to say that will alert their lives forever, but if you keep them hostage you’re sure to lose them.

2. Your audience found no value in your content

In order for your audience to care about your presentation, your content has to resonate on an emotional level. To do this, your presentation has to be tailored to their needs. What are their pain points? How does your product/service make their lives easier? How will a donation to your cause enrich their lives? It doesn’t matter whether or not you know that your presentation can change their lives. They have to understand. Usually, it’s not the substance of your presentation; It’s how you frame it.

3. Your presentation had no element of storytelling

When we are presented to – often with bullet points and data dumps – we (as audience members) immediately fold our arms and tune out. Nobody wants to be presented to, marketed to, or sold to. However, when we are told a story, our arms unfold and we lean forward, intently listening.  If your audience can see themselves in your presentation, then the need to persuade them disappears. Taking a narrative approach to presentingwith a hero, mentor, challenge, conflict, and resolution—breaks down the barriers and lets your audience in.

4. You weren’t prepared

Every part of building and delivering an effective presentation takes time. How much time did you spend organizing your content (without PowerPoint)? How much time did you spend designing it? How much time did you spend practicing your delivery?

I’ve walked out of presentations delivered by so-called “experts” in their field because they obviously didn’t care enough about me to prepare. Sometimes it’s because they had to read their content. Other times because their design showed little effort. However, cutting corners does get noticed. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail.

5. You let the technology get the best of you

Technology can be a presentation killer. Plain and simple. If you don’t prepare for as many situations as possible, the technology will get the best of you. My colleague John Zimmer has put together a presenter’s checklist that you can use before you leave for your presentation to ensure you’ll have everything you need. Also, don’t depend on your venue’s technology. Invest in your own equipment, like a laptop (with the right connectors!), wireless remote, speakers, and even your own projector.

As an audience member, what has caused a presentation you’ve attended to fall flat?


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