October 25, 2007

Deadly mistakes presenters make, 1 and 2

Today I am back in Redmond, Wa. delivering another Extreme Presentation workshop at Microsoft. I always enjoy debating the causes of (and solutions to) “Death by PowerPoint” with the makers of PowerPoint themselves, and today was no exception.

The question of audience focus came up a lot today, which reminded me that I’d promised to go into more detail about the seven deadly mistakes presenters make, mistakes that result from being presenter-focused, not audience-focused.

Here are the first two:

Mistake #1: Setting presentation objectives in terms of what the presenter intends to do.

Your objectives should not be about what you—the presenter—intend to do in your presentation. Those are not objectives; they’re an agenda. Your objectives should be about how your audience will change as a result of your presentation: how will they think and act differently after they leave the room. If their thinking or behavior is not changed as a result of your presentation, then why are you wasting their time—or yours?

Mistake #2: Focusing on what you want from your audience.

Most of the time, you deliver a presentation because you want something from your audience. You are selling a product or an idea; why else would you go through the bother of writing and delivering a presentation? But that’s your motivation for being there. What is their motivation for listening to you? The only reason your audience is listening to you is they are hoping for some information that will help them solve one of the many problems they are facing in life. If you want to capture and keep their attention, focus your entire presentation deliberately and undividedly on solving an important problem of theirs.

More to come.


4 Responses to Deadly mistakes presenters make, 1 and 2

  1. Jeff Draper says:

    After you take Microsoft to task please please please go to Headquarters Marine Corps and knock some sense into them as well. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent debating the merits of a slide’s appearance and not the actual information on it.

  2. Andrew says:

    I am working on it. I had some luck at the Navy Yard; I received a very positive response from an Admiral and his staff there. I am considering running a public Extreme Presentation seminar in the Washington DC area, specifically targeted at military personnel. What do you think? Would anyone come?

  3. Couldn’t agree more! Our training days have a mantra – if our clients remember nothing else, they’ll remember this!
    Making a presentation ISN’T about telling people what you know. It’s about telling people what THEY need to know, in the way THEY need to know it.
    Simple, really! 🙂

  4. Kari says:

    As a graduate student in Human Resources about to enter the workforce for my first full-time job, I was thrilled to come across the Extreme Presentation website, and these two tips in particular. After studying your method and mistakes to avoid, I feel that I can truly make a great impression and avoid inflicting “death by PowerPoint.”
    Thank you!

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