If you have a major business presentation coming up, you may want to brush up on a few do's and don'ts of speech preparation and delivery. If you've ever spoken publicly before, you probably know the basics of giving a good talk, like making eye contact, projecting and not reading directly from your slides. What you might not know are the major public speaking mistakes that can leave the wrong impression. Here are six business presentation blunders to avoid:
1. Spending Too Much Time Introducing Yourself
Yes, it's important for your audience to understand why you're the person standing at the front of the room, so a little background is fine. But other than hearing about your connection to the topic at hand, no one really wants to hear your complete biography. Don't make the presentation all about you, because that's not why people are in attendance. If you feel it's necessary to note the many degrees you've earned or books you've written, mention that somewhere in a handout.
2. Giving a One-Size-Fits-All Talk
Perhaps even more important than giving a presentation that delivers the information you promised is learning about your audience. Don't deliver a generic presentation that tries to address general issues or basic concerns. Instead, research who will be in the audience. Presenting to a group of venture capitalists requires a different level of preparation and different content about your business than a chamber of commerce crowd. Know your audience, and speak directly to them — on their level.
3. Showing Too Many Slides
You may have heard of the 10/20/30 rule in business presentations, which recommends no more than 10 slides for a 20-minute presentation. The slides should all be in 30-point type for easy reading. That means that each slide should cover about two minutes of content. That means that if you're giving a 30-minute presentation and you have 40 slides, you've gone overboard. Your audience will have trouble keeping up with the speed that you'll be clicking through your slides.
4. Using Distracting Slides
Some presenters seem to feel that it's necessary to jazz up their business presentation with animated slides or multiple font styles, sizes and colors. Not only does all that variety look unprofessional, but the slides also become hard to read. Your audience ends up having to focus really hard to make out what's on the screen, rather than hearing the point you're trying to make.
5. Overemphasizing Facts and Figures
Even if you're presenting to a group of certified public accountants, you need to give them more than dry numbers to make a positive impression. Rather than rattling off ratios and financial jargon, tell stories. Put those facts and figures in context, so your audience understands why they're relevant and what they can learn from them.
6. Going Over Your Time Limit
If you've been asked to give a 15-minute presentation, don't take 25 minutes — or even 20. No one wants to sit longer than they expected to, especially if you are one of several presenters scheduled to talk. A better strategy is to end a few minutes early, leaving time for questions or a quick break.
The best business presentations don't try to cover too much ground. They also capture and hold the audience's attention, and end earlier than expected. If you can do that, your presentation will be a success.