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Friday, July 20, 2012

5 Phrases You Never Want to Hear in a Presentation

by Ben Yoskovitz

Giving good presentations is hard. Public speaking is a true skill that you can develop over time; a combination of art and science. I can’t help but hone in on those words I know don’t belong.
  •  MAKE SOME NOISE!!! Unless you’re at the MTV Music Awards this isn’t much of a crowd pleaser. The key point is this: Know Thy Audience. Your audience should dictate your style, approach, the words you use, etc. If you can’t modify your pitch to your audience you’ll turn people off quicker than you can say…
  • Um… The dreaded “um” is so commonplace in our speech we often overlook it. But when you’re standing in front of a crowd, selling ‘em whatever you’re selling ‘em (and don’t be mistaken: you ARE selling) too many “ums” shows a lack of preparedness and comfort.
  • Did That Make Sense? Actually, it didn’t. And on top of that, because you had to ask me I’m so disengaged at this point that I’ve started playing a game on my BlackBerry. The key here: Practice. Do it in front of a mirror. Do it in the shower. Do it in front of others. Do it in public. If you present in front of friends and family who aren’t in your field of expertise and they get it, you’ve got yourself a winner.
  • What Else Can I Show You? I don’t know, you tell me, that’s why you’re standing up there on the stage and I’m sitting here eagerly in the crowd. Presentations are stories – they need a beginning, middle and end. It doesn’t matter the setting, format or style of presentation/conference/meeting. If you’re standing in front of people and telling them something, you’re spinning a story. And that means it needs all the elements of a good one.
  • I Guess That’s It. Well is that the end or not? You would know better than me. Blog professionals often talk about ending strongly, and the same holds true when giving a presentation. Even saying, “That’s the end” is kind of lame – your final point (and the entire presentation arc) should make it obvious enough, and you should be able to transition instantly into the next step – be it questions, slinking off the stage, hours of clapping…
So, I guess that’s it. Kidding.

Public speaking is the sort of thing that makes grown men cry, and buckles people to their knees. We all know it’s daunting, which is all the more reason to master the 4 Ps of Presentations:
  1. Prepare. You might not need a word-for-word script, but prepare something. Make sure your story is compelling, entertaining and worth listening to.
  2. Practice. You need to practice. Even veteran presenters practice. Make sure you at least read it out loud a few times to develop a good rhythm.
  3. Pronunciate. You need to speak clearly. There’s no room for mumbling in a presentation. Let me toss another P in there – Project. Speak clearly and firmly to get your point across.
  4. Participate. You should always try to engage your audience. The sooner they feel like they’re part of what you’re doing, the better.

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