We’ve all had presentation failures at some point in our career. Some studies have even quoted that people would rather die than stand up and talk. However, in order to advance most companies, professionals will need to share an idea or present a team update.

Of course it would be easier to send an email and pray for understanding. The business presentation, however, is the best tool for gathering people and discussing and topic. It is inevitable that we will all stumble and fall sometime, so how do we prevent or minimize presentation failures?

  • No Pictures – Lots of tables, text and ideas per slide contribute to audience boredom and presentation failure. Scientists and technical professional should make certain to include graphs and pictures to help people remember trends and important points. Steve Jobs was famous for simple slides with minimal data on them: a number, a picture or a word were more memorable that lists and paragraphs.
  • No Practice – Everyone says they don’t have time to practice, however, everyone NEEDS to practice. Athletes practice their sport. Physicians prepare for surgery. Actors rehearse for plays. And professionals should practice their presentations. An effective delivery only comes from an investment in delivery and execution.

Key to Presentation Success = PRACTICE

  • No Organization – Great presentations tell a story. To design a presentation, many people open their laptop and start with PowerPoint. As Steven Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.” Start with a piece of paper or notebook and map out the various parts of the story / presentation: beginning, middle and summary. Each slide should have one concept and flow from one point to the next. The conclusion ties everything together or presents a distinct request (persuasive presentations).
  • No Fun – The Scientifically Speaking demonstrations have style and personality. These are the qualities that make people want to hear the speaker. People don’t always come “just for the facts.” The delivery is just as important as the information being presented. To avoid presentation failures, use hand gestures to emphasize a point, and maintain eye contact with the audience. Don’t forget: a smile can go a long way.
  • No Understanding – When you work in an industry for 15 years, certain acronyms come second nature. Your audience, however, may not understand or appreciate the vernacular. Speak in plain terms. The goal is to make the presentation memorable and understandable – not show how smart you are.

Most of us would settle for presentations that “don’t suck”, keep the audience awake or stop people from leaving. Best advice: ask a group of people to listen to / watch your presentation. Ask them to be completely honest with you and give critical feedback. Great presentations are not an accident. They will take time (surprise) and effort. To minimize you presentation failures, keep preparing, practicing and presenting.

Scientifically Speaking, of course