So you were invited to give a presentation on a conference or on a company meetup? That is awesome, but make sure that your ego will not ruin it. People commit those seven mistakes over and over again. Do you?
1. Extensively talking about your background and achievements
Sure, we want to hear about where you come from and about your work experience, but just enough to put your presentation in the right context. As a rule of thumb, if you are going to talk for 60 minutes, 6 minutes should be enough to talk about yourself. If you REALLY have an interesting story, make it 10 minutes.
Once the presentation is over you can always leave your email or website address for the people that want to know more about you.
Pay attention to the tone you will be using as well. There is nothing worse than a presenter bragging about his achievements, titles and success stories.
2. Using foreign expressions or proverbs
Some time ago I was watching a presentation about crisis management, and at one point the presenter went like this:
As the Italians say, “A mali estremi, estremi rimedi,” that is, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Instead of thinking “Wow, this guy is really clever,” which was probably the reaction the presenter was expecting to raise on the audience, I thought: “Wow, this guy is really a dork…”
Use foreign expressions or proverbs only if they are absolutely necessary to convey the meaning of something.
3. Using fancy words
The previous point applies to fancy English words as well. You might think that using big and complex words will make you sound smart, but in reality it will only make you sound pompous, and there is a chance that you will end up confusing part of the audience as well.
Keep it simple. The easier for people to follow your thoughts, the better.
4. Excessive self promotion
Ever saw a presentation where right in the middle the guy started talking about how cool his company was, how wonderful their products were, how their sales volume was sky rocketing and the like?
It is sickening.
Remember that the purpose of your presentation is to deliver value to the audience, and not to deliver a sales or promotional pitch for your services or company.
5. Using complex charts and formulas to demonstrate your expertise
If you are going to use charts, formulas or any other mathematical reasoning, make sure that they are simple and easy to understand.
Do not assume that people will know the stuff. Explain the graphs; explain what is on the x and on the y axis; explain why that curve is going upward and so on.
6. Presenting too much information
When planning your presentation, think about the main message that you want the audience to take away, and work around it.
You might know the topic inside out, but you won’t be able to put all that information inside people’s heads in 60 minutes no matter what.
What is worse, if you try, they won’t absorb anything whatsoever.
7. Not interacting with the audience because you are the expert
Monologues are boring.
We might not be as knowledgeable as you on the topic you are covering, but we have interesting ideas and questions to share.
Talk with the audience, let them ask questions, get them involved with the discussion and so on. This will add a whole new dimension to your presentation, bringing you closer to the attendants.