Avoiding Death By PowerPoint: 5 Presentation Mistakes To Avoid

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and two key focuses are Career Discussions and General Education. A skill that’s very important today is the ability to give presentations. Many professionals make it out into the workforce without learning how to give quality presentations. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Avoiding Death By PowerPoint: 5 Presentation Mistakes To Avoid.

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Image Source. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Want to avoid boring your audience to death during your next work PowerPoint presentation? Here are a few common mistakes to avoid in order to keep your presentation engaging.

Breaking the 10-20-30 rule

There is a rule that governs the practice of PowerPoint presentations – it was established by Guy Kawasaki and it is known as The 10-20-30 Rule. This rule states that if you want to keep your presentation engaging you should never include more than 10 slides, never go on for longer than 20 minutes and never use a font size less than 30. This helps to keep things short and snappy so that you never overstay your welcome. Unless you’ve been specifically asked to give a longer presentation or to use more slides, try not to break this rule.

Using generic templates and stock images

Many PowerPoint templates are overly familiar to the point that they are distracting. If you want to maintain a unique feel, you’re probably best off not using PowerPoint at all. There are many other presentation platforms that are worth trying out – many of these come with interesting themes to download as found at this list of The 70 Best Free Google Slides Themes Of 2019.

On top of generic presentation templates, avoid using stock images as these too can dull-ify your presentation. Rather than using the same cliched images of employees shaking hands, use images that offer interesting metaphors or images that help to tell a story.

Reading directly off the slides

Any slides you use should be treated as prompts or additional information – they should not be treated as a script. By reading the slides, not only are you not looking at the audience but you’re telling information that they can read themselves (in which case, you’d be better off sending an email). Focus your attention on your audience and try to rehearse what you’re going to say without having to read anything (you can have notes, but you should use these as pointers and similarly not use them as a script). Having to speak to audience can be scary, but it will help you to connect to them and get them interested.

Failing to connect on an emotional level

Some presentations can be a little too heavy handed when it comes to facts and figures. The emotional connection can then get lost and your audience will start to feel that they’re been given a long-winded report. Try to connect on an emotional level by sharing stories and giving relatable information. For example, if you’re giving a seminar on conserving energy in the home, don’t just reel of figures but make people aware of the benefit this will have on their lives and the planet.

Losing track of the presentation’s purpose

Some presentations can end up going off-topic. It’s important to remember the key objective of your presentation and to answer any questions that you raised at the beginning. Your audience will zone out if they feel the presentation has lost its sense of purpose, so don’t get side-tracked.

3 Tips on How to Represent Your Business Well

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. A major component of building your business/enterprise is personal appearance. This encompasses both physical appearance, demeanour and actual preparedness. The following contributed post is thus entitled, 3 Tips on How to Represent Your Business Well.

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Image via Pixabay

If you’re a small business owner at a trade event, or if you’re a member of a much larger organisation and have been tasked with representing the organisation in some official and formal context, it’s essential that you know how to conduct yourself in a manner which presents your business in the best possible light.

Of course, there’s a lot that goes into a professional presentation, and there are many aims that you will likely be trying to accomplish.

It will, for example, be important for you to present your business as a serious, professional, and diligent force to any competitors in the field. It will also be necessary for you to reassure your clients, or would-be clients, of your organisation’s strong ethical standards that sit above reproach.

Here are a few tips on how, specifically, you can conduct yourself to represent your business well.

Be sharp in your presentation — both your personal presentation and the presentation of your branding and marketing materials

If you’re in the position of representing your business in an official capacity, then it’s important for you to treat your own personal presentation as an extension of the kind of image you want to convey for the company at large.

This means tailoring your outfit for the day according to the image the company would most like to convey. Should you wear a suit or a pair of well-fitted jeans and a black T-Shirt? Of course, your personal grooming and hygiene should be impeccable in any case.

The next step is to carefully select the branding and marketing materials that you plan to use to represent the company more specifically. Will pull up banner displays help to make a strong impression, and highlight some of the company’s key benefits and USPs?

It’s worth spending a good amount of time considering these questions.

Be the person who accepts responsibility — let the buck stop with you

It’s all but impossible to respect people who don’t accept responsibility and accountability — certainly for issues which are essentially their own innate responsibility anyway, but even for things that aren’t necessarily their responsibility in the conventional sense.

If your company has been embroiled in recent controversies, and you’re going to be representing your company in public, expect people to raise those topics, and have answers prepared. Answers which position you as someone who is accepting responsibility on behalf of the company.

If someone raises a point of company controversy, and you shrug and say “don’t ask me, nothing to do with me, I just work here”, the impression made is not likely to be stellar.

Play it straight and stick with the truth, don’t get caught up in spin

Obviously, you’ll want to present your company or personal business in the best possible light. But you should nonetheless do so in a way that is rooted in the truth, and that doesn’t involve deceit or mischaracterization of the facts.

If you get caught up in spin, you undermine your own position, put people off you on an instinctual level, and also are liable to get caught up in your own tangled web of confusing half-truths.

Speak positively of the company, but only to the extent that your words are true. If you can’t find anything to say about the company which is both positive and true, you’re likely working for the wrong company.