You’ve created your presentation and now is the time — you’re standing up in front of your audience. What do you need to know to make your presentation a success?
You need to know 3 things that the audience hates and how to avoid them.
1. Reading the slides
If you put too much text on your slides, you’ll be tempted to read them. Even worse, you might turn around (away from the audience) and read straight from the screen. This is audiences’ pet peeve. They think, “Hey! I can read! They feel as if you’re ignoring them.
Solution: Use the Tell ‘n’ ShowSM method and practice so that you can deliver your presentation with just a glance at each slide. The Tell ‘n’ ShowSM method puts one point on a slide, with a simple slide title and then shows the point with an image, chart/graph, or diagram. For more information, watch this short YouTube video.
2. Saying “um” and “you know” a lot
These extra words — and others — become distracting if you use them too often. They also don’t give a professional impression. Many people have the habit of adding these unnecessary “extras” to their speech.
Solution: The only way to get rid of unnecessary words is to practice. And the only way to practice is to tape yourself and listen to the tape. Then try again. After a few repetitions, you’ll see results! Read more in this tip on getting rid of “filler” words.
3. Speaking over the heads of your audience
It’s common to see speakers look out over the heads of the audience instead of directly at them. They’re concentrating on what they have to say, so their attention is inside their own head, instead of on the people who are listening to them. The audience feels the lack of connection and so they disconnect, too.
Solution: Practice enough so you don’t need to concentrate only on what you’re saying. Meet the eyes of your audience members. If you have a large audience, pick one person at a time and then move on to another person, making sure to cover all sections of the room. Speak to each person for 1 or 2 sentences as you would if you were having a 1-on-1 conversation. In the same tip I linked to above, I have a cute, if quirky exercise that can help you learn eye contact while practicing.
In addition, I strongly recommend using interactive techniques, such as asking the audience a question or even letting them direct the flow of the presentation. Here’s a tip on one such technique, creating a menu in PowerPoint.
Hello I do training for a living, i have read your 3 things to avoid, i always strive to follow the same principles, instead of saying umm or errrrr or ahhhhhhh i find it best to say nothing while i am thinking about the correct word or phrase to say, it actually gets the target audience, in my case trainees to stop what they are doing and because of the silence they all look at me. I find it better to ask leading questions, and not jump in when noone answers. I move around in the room , this forces… Read more »
Noel, That’s a great story! And good points all around.
Thank you for sharing such an informative article. I want to share my experience. When I have to talk to people, usually I look at audience and say some joke such as, hey look what is that? and when they turn or look towards the direction I am pointing out they all laugh. Then I remind them, don’t be tense be relaxed listen to me and ask question if you got any? I have noticed, mixing some jokes in speech/conversation the audience become friendly and stress free. Normally they ask me to keep talking which I can not do because… Read more »
I’d add a fourth: failure to actively engage your audience. Asking an audience member an occasional question can bring the day-dreamers back to your message.