Seven Deadly Mistakes Presenters Make, and How to Avoid Them

How to build an audience- (not presenter-) centered presentation.

Why is it that standards for presentation design are so abysmally low? Why is it that most people would rather sit in the dentist’s chair than through another presentation? Why has the phrase "Death by PowerPoint" become so prevalent? The answer to all these questions is that most presentation advice and tools have been developed for the benefit of the presenter, not the audience. As a result of this, presenters have adopted several bad habits that weaken their effectiveness terribly. Here are some of worst ones. 

Mistake #1: Setting presentation objectives in terms of what the presenter intends to do, rather than how the audience should change their minds and actions as a result of the presentation.

Mistake #2: Focusing on what you want from your audience, rather than on how your presentation will help them solve a pressing problem of theirs. 

More on mistakes #1 and #2

Mistake #3: Only including evidence that supports your recommendation, instead of providing an objective evaluation of all the evidence, for and against. 

Mistake #4: Adding lots of color, sounds, and clipart to make your presentation look professional, instead of only using exactly what you need to get your point across. 

More on mistakes #3 and #4

Mistake #5: Assuming that your audience has the same personality and communication preferences as you do, instead of consciously considering how those with different personality types from yours would like to receive their information. 

Mistake #6: Presenting your information in the order that makes most sense to you, instead of building an intriguing story. 

Mistake #7: Using your slides as prompts, instead of as visual aids that support—rather than compete with—your spoken message.

More on mistakes #5 – #7

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