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Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Your Presentations

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Most of us have experienced dull, irrelevant, or confusing presentations. But think back to the last really great presentation you saw – one that was informative, motivating, and inspiring. Wouldn't you love to be able to present like that?

This article looks at 10 of the most common mistakes that speakers make when giving presentations. By avoiding these, you'll make your presentations stand out – for all of the right reasons, and none of the wrong ones.

Mistake 1: Not Preparing Enough

Steve Jobs was a famously inspiring speaker. His speeches may have looked effortless, but, in reality, each one took days or weeks of preparation.

Careful preparation is essential. The amount of time you spend on planning depends on your situation, but it's a good idea to start early – you can never be too well-prepared.

Proper preparation also helps you manage presentation nerves. When you know your material inside and out, you're far less likely to feel nervous. Our presentation planning checklist and Bite-Sized Training session on "Giving Better Presentations" can help you plan your next event properly.

Mistake 2: Not Familiarizing Yourself With the Venue and Equipment

Imagine that your presentation starts in an hour. You arrive at the venue and, to your horror, the projector won't work with your laptop. The slides you spent hours preparing are useless. This is a disaster!

You can avoid a situation like this by taking time to familiarize yourself with the venue and available equipment at least once before your presentation.

Often, the sort of problems that can jeopardize your presentation will be situations beyond your control, but this doesn't mean that you are helpless. Conduct a risk analysis to identify potential issues, and come up with a good "Plan B" for each one.

Mistake 3: Ignoring Your Audience

Sometimes, speakers can get so wrapped up in delivering their presentations that they forget about the needs of their audience.

Start your presentation by telling your audience what to expect. Let them know what you will cover first, whether and when you'll stop for a break, if you'll be taking questions during the presentation, and so on.

Providing these "signposts" up front will give your audience a clear idea of what to expect, so that they can relax and concentrate on your presentation.

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