The 3 Major Presentation Mistakes you MUST avoid!

The 3 Presentation Mistakes are:

  1. Too much information on the slides.
  2. Reading from slides to compensate for a lack of preparation.
  3. Dimming the lights to focus your audience on the slides.

Let’s cover each of these three classic mistakes in more depth…


1. Too much information on the slides

Many presenters cram their PowerPoint slide presentation with too much information, thinking that they must include all points on slides. Some presenters I have seen even use slides to record their entire script, albeit in ‘dot point’ form. In a one hour presentation, that adds up to a lot of slides. I have even seen the ‘Contents’ or ‘Agenda’ spread over two slides and the presenter take nearly 5 minutes to go through what the audience can ‘look forward to’ (yeah sure! Or not!!!) in the remaining 40 minutes. This will definitely lead to ‘death by PowerPoint’.

Remember if the audience is sitting in their chairs squinting at the screen having to make an effort to read the content of your slides, then they are not listening to you. What’s the point? ‘Busy’ slides tend to duplicate what the speaker is saying, rather than add strength to the message. If you simply use slides to record your presentation, it will be difficult for you to ‘unpack’ your message in a creative way for the audience.

2. Reading from slides

Perhaps worried about remembering what to say, and/or not devoting sufficient time to rehearsal, many presenters prepare for their presentation by ‘typing up’ a number of PowerPoint slides and then ‘speaking to them’ – (a common expression used in Australia’s corporate market). I often say to my executive clients: ‘and while you’re speaking to your slides, what is the audience going to do?’ Some people even go so far as to turn their back on the audience for the whole presentation and read straight from the slide projection on the wall. This is boring for the audience and makes it very difficult to develop sufficient credibility and interest in your message. The results of one Australian survey showed that more audience members ranked ‘presenter reading from slides’ as annoying than any other complaint about presenter behaviour. I would say, if you plan to read out your slides to your audience, then do everyone a favour, cancel the presentation and email the PowerPoint file to all concerned for everyone to read the slides on their way to work!


3. Dimming the lights


Darkening the room further removes the focus of the presentation from the speaker to the screen. This encourages the audience members to bond with the screen (as at the cinema) and, correspondingly, this breaks the bond between the speaker and the audience. Another common response to a darkened room is to ‘switch off’ and either psychologically or physically ‘sleep’ – neither good options wouldn’t you agree?