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40 Common Mistakes People Make During Presentations

We have all made presentations at one point in time or the other, whether it is presenting a report to your management, sharing a business plan with the department, making a speech at a birthday party or just sharing an idea with your team, once you are standing in front of people to speak you are making some sort of presentation or the other.



Things Don't Always Work Out as Planned

Sometimes we also go to great lengths to prepare so we can give the best presentation ever, but on the d-day, we realize that we got it wrong in one area or the other.


“There are always three speeches for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” – Dale Carnegie



So What Do We Often Get Wrong?

Well here is a list of common mistakes people make when presenting.

  1. Not knowing the subject matter well enough

  2. Too many words on the slides

  3. Reading the slides verbatim, or speaking with a monotone

  4. Not addressing the real issue in the presentation

  5. Avoidable technical mishaps, eg not charging or plugging in your laptop

  6. Too many animations and transitions

  7. Not being audible enough

  8. Being too wordy and blabbing

  9. Not being appropriately dressed

  10. Derailing from the subject matter, telling too many unrelated stories and jokes

  11. Boring your audience to death, not making the session participatory and lively

  12. Making your slides too colourful & unclear, i.e where colours clash so that the font is not clear or visible, eg pink font on a red background

  13. Using too small font that is not legible from a distance.

  14. Using wrong vocabulary and inability to correctly pronounce certain words.

  15. Playing with your tie, or hair etc during the presentation, or other distracting activity

  16. Poor stage presence

  17. Stage fright,

  18. Not telling enough stories to keep the audience engaged

  19. Not making eye contact

  20. Speaking under your breath, not projecting, or speaking inaudibly

  21. Confusing your points and leaving the audience bewildered

  22. Making the presentation all about you

  23. Poor time management, death by powerpoint - too many slides/information for the time allotted, or too few slides / information.

  24. Inability to handle difficult people

  25. Inability to keep class discussion on the topic

  26. Wardrobe malfunctions, broken zip, torn skirt etc

  27. Wearing clothes that make you uncomfortable and fidgety, thereby distracting the audience

  28. Inability to properly operate and use the equipment, or software - eg online presentations on Zoom, Google meet etc

  29. Cracking expensive or sensitive jokes

  30. Not knowing the audience

  31. Saying uh, um or repeating a catch phrase too frequently eg, saying you know....you know....you know, right......right......right etc

  32. Always apologising, and drawing attention to your lack of preparation

  33. Poor use of stage or platform, or walking up and down in a distracting manner, leaning on the podium etc

  34. Weak start, failure to use an ice breaker or something that gets the audience's attention and endearment towards the speaker.

  35. Failure to include a re-cap of the main points or issues at the end of the presentation

  36. Poor finish, failure to end on a strong powerful note that results in appreciation of the speaker. eg with a quote, or short story, or something you said at the beginning of the presentation

  37. Failure to include a call to action at the end of the presentation

  38. Inability to handle the question and answer session properly

  39. Failure to be sensitive to how the audience reacts - ie are they tired, sleepy, hungry, distracted etc?

  40. Failure to engage the audience during the presentation.


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What to Do to Avoid Presentation Mistakes

Its quite simple really, you just have to practice, practice, practice! Practice makes perfect they say, so if at first you don't succeed, try, try try again.


Prepare your presentation, and practice it

  1. Practice in-front of a mirror, in front of friends and family if possible, chances are they will point out all the funny or wrong things you are doing.

  2. Record the rehearsal and play it back, then work on correcting what you observe.

  3. Do everything you plan to do at the live event at the rehearsal. Use the same slides, and wear the same clothes, even try and do the rehearsal at the same time. Weather affects your voice, and so does time.

  4. Practice using the same or similar equipment you will be using during the live presentation, familiarize yourself with it well.

  5. Thoroughly understand your subject matter, this is crucial. Know your slide content like the back of your hand this will help in time management and also enable you to be more confident.

  6. Make all the necessary corrections, to slides, to your outfit and to your presentation delivery methods as may be required.


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