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Friday, September 22, 2006

Do You Make These Mistakes In Presentations?


I've been creating and delivering presentations for more years than I care to remember. And in all that time you just know I've either made the gaff or seen someone else slip on the banana skin of live presentation.

We've all seen the top 10 of what to put into slides, and just as important what to leave out. So I'm not going to plough those deep furrows today!

Instead I'd like to tell you a little story that hopefully illustrates some avoidable mistakes.

My story concerns a visit I made to a high-priced 3 day seminar in London. Funnily enough Duncan Ballantyne and Simon Woodruffe (prior to their Dragon's Den fame) were presenters there too.

This was day two of our seminar and we'd all settled in to hear the next speaker tell us how our minds can sabotage what we do and how we can overcome negativity.

I wont give her name to save her embarrassment but she started her presentation and was obviously reading from her notes. The audience worry factor increased -- did she really know her stuff?

For me the worry factor was compounded because I was sat next a Master NLPer who was confirming my own thoughts that she was trying to actually programme us to fail!

As she shuffled her pages of notes she seemed to be desperately trying to find something. Unhappily she just gave up and couldn't continue.

The points?

  • She just was not prepared for her presentation and may even have thought she could "wing it"
  • Her hesitancy and dependence on notes showed us that she didn't know what she was talking about
  • The structure of her talk didn't build up from a beginning, there was no middle and she didn't make a specific point
  • She made incorrect statements which may have been simply mistakes but lost her credibility in the eyes of people with a little knowledge of NLP
  • She'd not prepared a fall-back position so that she could cut short the presentation if something went wrong

Now contrast this to the next speaker who gauged the audiences mood after this huge embarrassment and started quietly.

He went on to build up his talk with effective use of Powerpoint showing a few highly relevant clips of famous films

And yes I know everyone believes Powerpoint is the work of the devil. Personally I think that when used as a tool and not a prop it works well.



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