The 8 Biggest Presentation Lies

The 8 Biggest Presentation Lies.

These are the most destructive things to say when you are preparing your presentation. In their way, they are all different ways to say "I can' be bothered to do this properly". Don't be that person.

1. It’s a brochure too
These are two separate jobs. Make a leave behind document by all means - that’s a great idea - but construct your slides so they do the job of slides: to support your presentation.

2. I don’t want to be over rehearsed
I’m sure this is possible, but I’ve never seen it. When you watch a professional performance you are seeing the result of weeks of rehearsal and many more weeks of performance. There’s never been a review which said “nice play but too much rehearsal”

3. I use my slides as prompts
There’s this annoying fact that we read about four or five times faster than we speak. If you put a slide up with a load of text the audience will start reading it, they will get to the end before you have said the first sentence. At this point they start thinking about plans for dinner, that person they fancy, whether there are cookies at the break….. Anything but your presentation. You’ve lost them and you’ll never really get them back. Slides support your presentation, they are not the presentation.

4. They can watch this whilst I talk
Humans are very bad at processing two things at once. Plus for most people visual outweighs auditory. If you make me choose between listening to you and watching a video - I’ll probably watch the video and pay less attention to what you are saying. Politicians may use this to their advantage, all other presenters are failing the audience if they try to sow confusion.

5. I’ve bought this great outfit
When you are on stage presenting you need to look comfortable. At home. You need to “own” the platform. You do not need to look like the latest fashion plate, you need to look like an expert. (unless you are an expert model…) Wear something you are at home in. Do not break in new shoes.

6. I can just read the prompter - I don’t need to rehearse
You watch those people on the telly every night, superb presentation skills and they just turn up and read the prompter. Except they don’t. They are professionals who don’t need to learn the script but that does not mean they don’t rehearse, they just don’t need to memorise. They give their professional attention to making sure the whole thing goes clearly and the technical crew get the right cues. They do it every day. You don’t.

7. I’ll make that bit up
When we stand on stage our “fight or flight” processes kick in. Rational considered thoughts get pushed out of the way. You may be able to “make something up” in the calm of the rehearsal room. You certainly won’t do such a good job on your feet in front of an audience. A career shortening thought from which you never recover.

8. A script makes me sound too formal
There’s a big difference between a piece of prose and a script. A good script sounds like you. There are lots of different ways to create a script, many people speak into a recording device and then transcribe what they said, some employ a scriptwriter, others write as they speak and then tweak. If a script makes you sound formal change the script.

Richard Tierney is the author of The Introverted Presenter


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