Do you have an upcoming seminar or other presentation to lead? If so, you may be experiencing a little bit of [understandable] anxiety over it. In many cases, people actually fear public speaking more than they fear death! It’s this type of fear and anxiety that can cause problems in your own seminar or presentation.
Have you been asking yourself “how do I give a good presentation?” If so, there’s good news for you. Much of the fear and anxiety over public speaking boils down to the unknown or ambiguous elements of the presentation itself. Even a little bit of preparation can significantly reduce your anxiety.
If you’re worried about an upcoming presentation, have a look at these four basic, but colossal seminar presentation mistakes. You can use this guide to better understand what not to do when it comes to your own presenting.
- Failing to Know or Understand Your Audience
No matter where you are or what you’re doing, one thing always remains the same: you’re presenting to an audience. You need to align your presentation toward the audience you’re presenting it to. Otherwise, you’re in for an incredibly difficult time.
How to Fix
This blunder typically comes due to lack of preparation ahead of time. Take a little bit of time to understand what you’re presenting – and who you are addressing. Ensure your presentation matches your audience in terms of language, tone and their prior knowledge. This basic technique can go a long way in increasing the quality of your presentation.
- Not Knowing the Topics You’re Presenting
It should come as no surprise that some people try to fly blind into a presentation without understanding the topic area they’re discussing. Guess what happens to these people? They crash and burn once people start asking questions. Is this the type of dynamic you want for your own seminar presentation?
How to Fix
The simple answer is to learn what you’re presenting so that you know and understand it. Your job is to convey your understanding of a topic to an audience. This includes answering questions people may have about what you’re discussing. Learn the ins-and-outs of your topic so you’ll be ready to answer all questions and concerns.
If you find yourself blanking during the presentation, do your best not to worry. This is precisely why you have notes in front of you to reference. Take a breath, refer to your notes and begin again. Your audience probably won’t even notice your hiccup if you don’t overreact.
- Not Practising Ahead of Time
We all know the age-old phrase of ‘practice makes perfect.’ This helps you to become more comfortable with the presentation process. That way, you’ll have a more natural approach once you are actually in front of your audience.
How to Fix
If you haven’t practised prior to the real deal and you find yourself panicking, even just one quick rehearsal of your topic can do wonders for your confidence and anxiety.
- Reading, Not Presenting
We’ve all seen presenters like this. They have interesting or important information that makes a lot of sense. It’s even structured in an interesting style or format. However, the presenter is simply reading the information back to you – verbatim – and not actually interacting in any meaningful way.
Many people [mistakenly] believe that simply reading PowerPoint slides or a presentation is an acceptable approach to a seminar presentation. While it may seem like a safety net to have information you can just directly read back to an audience, you’re sacrificing the quality of the information itself when you’re simply reciting the PowerPoint.
How to Fix
Like many of the other points on this list, a little bit of practise ahead of time can do wonders on avoiding this pitfall. Keep it conversational. Consider adding jokes or relatable material in addition to the facts.
If you find yourself reverting to reading your presentation during the seminar itself, take a breath, relax, and remember that you’ve already practised for this.
Preparation – Your Presentation Ally
As you can see, most of the mistakes people make with their presentations boil down to a fundamental lack of preparation. If you’re going into a presentation situation unprepared, you’re creating a recipe for disaster.
Give yourself time to really prepare for what you’re going to present. Learn the topic so that you can answer related questions instead of just reading facts. Finally, practise the presentation process itself so it’s more natural for you.
By taking these pre-emptive steps, you’re saving yourself a lot of stress and related problems. And in the end, you’ll deliver a much higher quality presentation that your audience will enjoy and learn from.
About the Author:
Jamie Press writes for VenuesWest, Western Australia’s largest provider of seminar and event function rooms.