Sunday, March 1, 2015

What Went Wrong with Your Last Presentation?

You are about to give the most important presentation of your career. If you convince the audience and gain their approval, you could change your business forever. You worked hard on the presentation and are well prepared. However, not long after you start to present to the audience, their eyes glaze over. They seem bored or distracted. Deep down, you know you've lost their attention. What went wrong with this presentation?
Reflect Back on Your Performance
While your memory is fresh, assess your talking points. You may discover glitches, such as a missing step in a process you outlined. Make a list of these flaws as soon as possible and promptly incorporate the changes into your slides and presentation.

Did You Engage the Audience?
You may see trouble spots regarding the audience’s reaction: Are people nodding, or nodding off? Are they taking notes, or engrossed in their phones? Try to recall specific weak moments, and develop specific fixes to sharpen your skills. For example, engage in a little Q&A with your audience. Questions arouse interest, pique curiosity, and involve audiences. Create tension or anticipation by posing a question and letting your audience think a moment before moving to the next slide with the answer.

The Audience Doesn't Seem to Like You
Whether the vibe in the room feels wrong or the audience acts like they don't respect you, you still need to get through the presentation. Afterwards, find out if there were external factors, such as a recent layoff announcement or other bad news that might be on people's minds. Ahead of your next presentation, check with the meeting organizer to see if there are such events that you should know about before you start. If you have time before your presentation, speak with some of the attendees to help gauge their mood and show your interest in them.

Did You get Interrupted or Heckled?
These are people who want attention at that moment, want to prove you wrong, are insecure with the spotlight on you, or are just having a bad day. The audience is usually as frustrated by the hecklers as you. A good approach is to acknowledge them and their questions or comments. Then mention to them that it is either off track, or give them a short answer if the comment is relevant. If their interruptions continue, offer to meet with them after the presentation to answer any questions or concerns they may have. Keep in mind that if the meeting gets out of control because of a heckler, the attendees will blame the you for not keeping your presentation moving along.

Speak With a Trusted Person in the Audience
No matter how well you planned your presentation in advance, the actual delivery will often expose flaws, gaps, or other shortcomings, even for polished presenters. Feedback from a trusted attendee will help you identify minor problems with the delivery, like weak opening remarks or awkward attempts at humor.

With a little attentiveness to the needs of your audience, you will effectively deliver the important information from your next presentation.

I encourage you to leave a comment by clicking on "...comments" below...
David Schuchman