Ever had presentation tears?
Tears you shed for that awful presentation that didn’t really hit the mark. In fact, you bombed. The one when the audience went really quiet after you spoke then everyone avoided any eye contact with you. The one when you felt so embarrassed and wondered what on earth went wrong.
You planned, you rehearsed your presentation and you are now confused as the exact same presentation worked a treat last month. Surely it was them, not you. It was just a difficult audience. Right? Then a speaker buddy says to you
It’s happened to all of us at some stage during our speaking careers or at a workplace presentation. Your presentation just failed to ‘hit the mark’
Now you could just go home and blame it all on an unappreciative audience or you could read on below to find out why some presentations just bomb and what you can do to make sure it doesn’t happen to you next time.
1. Your audience were strangers – Never talk to strangers. Find out as much information about the audience as you can in the consultation stage. What is important to them? What are they hoping to achieve from your message? What has happened to get them to this point? Big deal; your presentation went well last month. That was a different audience with different needs. There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to a powerful presentation.
2. Lack of planning – The lack of planning is always evident. Your slides have old dates on them. You have no idea about the conference theme or what the other speakers are presenting. Your timing hasn’t been considered and nothing has been contexualised for this audience.
3. Too much self-talk – Sure, they have asked you to present because they believe you have something to offer. FOR THE AUDIENCE. It’s great to thread some credibility points throughout the presentation and relevant stories are powerful but too much self-talk and self-admiration is off putting, and people will start to switch off.
4. Poor quality resources – Not all presentations will use slide decks or give out handouts but if you do ensure everything you do is professional and suits the demographic of the audience, your message and your brand. High quality speaker usually equals high quality materials and it demonstrates how much you care about your audience.
5. You weren’t present – You have a late night, you have an argument with your partner in the morning and you hope to quickly get this presentation over with because you have a really important meeting directly afterwards. Not a good ‘Present ‘recipe. You need to respect your audience and be completely present during any presentation. This means before and after a presentation. Try and get there as early as you can so you can meet and greet some of the audience members, watch some of the other presenters before your gig so you can even refer back to some powerful messages from the day and always be available after the presentation in case anyone has any questions, or they just want to personally thank you.
6. Lack of presenting skills – Let’s be honest now with your presenting skills. You might be an industry expert or the team leader but how much time have you spent honing your presenting craft? Presenting is art and science and the more you understand the mechanics behind a great presentation the more likely you are to succeed just like any other skill. Don’t ever wing a presentation. Do you know the best way to connect with your message? do you know how to thread your key messages in at just the right time? do you know what is happening in the brains of your audience members? do you know how to make complex material simple to learn and remember? and do you understand why your audience is resistant to change and how you can change this in a few easy sentences? Don’t waste a presenting opportunity. Presentation Skills do matter.
And sometimes we just have a bad day at work
Now sometimes we just have a pretty average day at work – it may not have been your best performance but if you know your stuff, planned and prepared, you probably still managed to get your message across and you know people will be taking action. Awesome. Don’t beat yourself up about it and shed those tears. Learn from it and decide what can you improve on for next time?
Paula has been helping experts, organisations and executives harness the power of speaking for the past 30 years and delivers courses in Presentation Skills, Presentation Intelligence®, Neuropresenting®, Mastering Meetings and Leadership.