Successful Business Presentations – 10 Things NOT To Do

September 21, 2012

Whenever you think about tips for giving a successful presentation, you usually see more people telling you about things that you should do to give a good presentation.  You should practice.  You should add a little humor.  You should know your audience.  You should keep your presentation relevant.  But, what about the things that you shouldn’t do?  Those tips are equally as important.

Here are 10 things that you should not do during a business presentation.

Not to Do Tip #1: Too Much Text.  One of the major mistakes that many speakers make is that they put too much text on a single slide.  It’s okay to create multiple slides to cover a number of points.  If you have too much text on a single slide, you could lose your audience in a world of text, which also means they can lose much of your message.

Not to Do Tip #2: Read Off of Your Notes.  Nothing is more boring than a speaker that is just up on the stage reading off a page of notes that he or she has created.  Presentations are much more effective when people are actually having a conversation and speak to the audience, rather than going up there preaching or talking off of a page of notes.

Not to Do Tip #3: Use Poor Quality Images.  Images can be extremely effective for making a point, breaking up slides and even tying in some humor into your presentation.  However, your choice of clip art and images can affect the success of your presentation.  You have to make wise choices in the kinds of images that you use in your presentation and you should also make sure that the image is good enough quality to be projected onto a larger screen for your presentation.

Not to Do Tip #4: Talk to the Slide.  Your presentation may be the most beautiful and well put together slide show ever created, but it still doesn’t mean that you should read off of your slides.  Your slides should include bullet points that are talking points and reminders to you about what you wanted to talk about.  Your audience can read (hopefully), so there is no need for you to read to your slide.  Take a glance at your slides and then turn your focus back to your audience.

Not to Do Tip #5: Using Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Text.  Whether you have a lot of text on your slide or not, it is important to remember that your audience is still trying to follow your presentation by following your slides.  Some may be in the back of the room, so your slides should still be legible from the back.  The typical rule of thumb is that the smallest level of sub-bullet point should be no smaller than 20pt font.

Not to Do Tip #6: Using Unprofessional and Difficult-to-Read Color Schemes. PowerPoint presentations come with a lot of different themes and color schemes.  Some are more business-like and others are more artistic and creative.  Also, not all color schemes are ideal for projection on a screen for large audiences and, generally, light text on a dark background is difficult for some to read.  Choose blues, greens, maroons, grey, white and black and other professional color schemes.

Not to Do Tip #7: Using Sound Effects.  You might have the most amazing idea for a sound effect during your presentation, but let that idea go when it comes to putting together a business presentation.  You have to assume that the sound will be projected for everyone in the room to hear, that everyone might get the humor and that it will work correctly when it’s time to give your presentation.

Not to Do Tip #8: Using Annoying or Disruptive Transitions.  There are a lot of choices for slide transitions, but several of the slide transitions can be annoying or distracting.  Stick with relatively subtle slide transitions, such as Fade or Dissolve.  You can use a unique or exciting slide transition to help emphasize a particular slide, but other than that, try to avoid getting too crazy with your slide transitions.

Not to Do Tip #9: Forgetting to Use Animations.  The use of animations to make text and bullets appear is a great way to avoid having your audience get ahead of you during your presentation.  With a simple click of a button, you can have the next level of text appear when you’re ready to move onto the next point.  Like Tip #8, avoid using distracting or disruptive animations.

Not to Do Tip #10: Forgetting to Engage the Audience.  One of the major mistakes that speakers make is that they forget to engage the audience. They go up, talk to the audience and then leave.  Engage your audience.  Ask questions that help keep their attention and to keep them engaged.  Get feedback and ask questions that suggest understanding of your message.

In summary, knowing what to do—and what NOT to do—when putting together a business presentation is the difference between creating a successful presentation and not.  We hope that this list of NOT To Do’s was helpful when you create your next business presentation.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Michigan, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Michigan. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @MarkWillDCT.

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