5 common presentation missteps—and how to avoid them

It’s easy to see and hear the flaws when someone else is delivering a talk, but many of us lapse into those very miscues when we’re speaking. The first step is identifying the problems.

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We easily spot the flaws—too long, boring, indecipherable—when others speak.

Yet when we take the stage ourselves, many of us fall into those same pitfalls.

Here are five common presentation mistakes, along with tips on how to avoid them:

1. Failing to engage emotionally

You risk losing your audience when you just “state the facts,” even in a business setting. No presentation should be devoid of emotion, no matter how cerebral the topic or the audience. Speak to people’s hearts as well as their minds.

Look for ways to add emotional texture to your exhibits, data, proofs, logical arguments and other analytical content. Try opening with a story your audience can relate to, for example, or including analogies that make your data more meaningful.

To unearth the emotional appeal of your ideas, ask yourself a series of “why” questions. If you’re requesting funding to pay for cloud storage, for instance, start by asking, “Why do we need cloud storage?” Your answer might be, “to facilitate data sharing with colleagues in remote locations.”

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