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Sunday, 26 January 2014

10 things you should NEVER say during presentations - The Next Web

10 things you should NEVER say during presentations - The Next Web:



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10 things you should NEVER say during presentations

Yes, when you are on stage the lights are bright and hot and it will be difficult to see the audience. But they don’t have to know about all that. Just stare into the dark, smile often and act like you feel right at home on there. Feel free to walk into the audience if you want to see them up close. Don’t cover your eyes to see people but politely ask the lights people to turn on the lights in the room if you plan to count hands or ask the audience a question. Even better, talk to the lights people in advance so they are prepared when you are going to ask them.

5: Can you read this?

The common rule is to make the font size on your slides twice the size of the average age of the audience. Yes, that means that if you expect the audience to be 40 on average you are stuck with a font size of 80 points. You won’t be able to fit a lot of text on the slide that way, which is a good thing, and brings us to the next point.

6: Let me read this out loud for you

Never ever, ever, ever in a million years add so much text on a slide that people will spend time reading it. And if you do, make damn sure you don’t read it out loud for them! The best way to lose your audiences attention is to add text to a slide. Here’s what will happen when you have more than four words on a slide; people will start reading it. And what happens when they read it? They will stop listening to you!
Only use short titles on your presentations and memorize the texts you want them to read. Or, if you MUST include an awesome three-sentence quote, announce that everybody should read the quote, then shut up for six seconds so they can actually read it.

7: Shut off your phone/laptop/tablet

Once upon a time you could ask an audience to shut off their devices. That was a long time ago. Now people tweet the awesome quotes you produce or take notes on their iPads. Or they play solitaire or check Facebook. Times change. You can ask if people turn their phones to silent mode but apart from that you just have to make sure that your talk is so incredibly inspiring people will close their laptops because they don’t want to miss a second of it. Demanding their attention is just not going to work.

8: No need to write anything down or take photos, the presentation will be online later

It is really cool that you will upload your presentation later. But if it’s a good presentation it won’t contain too many words (see point 4) and it won’t be of much use to them. For a lot of people writing something down is just an easy way to memorize something you’ve said. The act of writing down a sentence also embeds it in your brain and who knows, they might be really inspired and come up with something they’ve heard in between your lines that might change their business. Allow people to do whatever they want during your presentations.

9: Let me answer that question right away

Of course it is awesome if you answer a question right away, but you need to do something else first! Very often the question from an audience member will be very clear to you but not to the rest of the audience. So please say “I’ll repeat that question first so everybody hears it and THEN I will answer it”. Make it a habit to repeat questions also because the extra time it takes to repeat it gives you extra time to think about an awesome answer.

10: I’ll keep it short

This is a promise nobody ever keeps. But a lot of presentations are started that way! The audience really doesn’t care if you keep it short or not. They’ve invested their time and just want to be informed and inspired. Tell them “This presentation is going to change your life” or “This presentation is scheduled to take 30 minutes, but I’ll do it in 25 minutes so you can go out and have a coffee earlier than expected.”. Now all you have to do is keep that promise, which brings me to the last point.

Bonus tip: What, I’m out of time? But I have 23 more slides!

If you come unprepared and need more time than you are allowed you’ve screwed up. You need to practice your presentation and make it fit within the allotted time-slot. Even better, end five minutes early and ask if anyone has questions, and if they don’t invite them for a coffee to talk one-on-one. Giving an audience five minutes back will earn their respect and gratitude. Taking an extra five will annoy and alienate them.
Conclusion: come prepared, be yourself and be professional. The audience will love you for being clear, serious and not wasting their time. Join me at one of our upcoming TNW conferences and see if you can catch me making some of these mistakes onstage. :-)

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