10 Things to Avoid Before a Presentation

In the first of our 2-part series, our panel reveal the mistakes you really shouldn’t be making in the lead-up to your big moment.

Mistake #1: Forgetting to check your PowerPoint slides are compatible

It is all too easy to fall into the trap of presuming that your PowerPoint slides will work on the venue’s version of the software.

Yet it will only take a moment to phone the site to check that your versions are compatible, an action that could save a lot of embarrassment on the day.

Mistake #2: Believing you can “wing it”

Most people don’t practise.

The logic goes like this: “I get very scared when I make presentations, so I’d be less scared if I rehearsed… Rehearsal is a good idea but I get scared even rehearsing, so I’ll avoid rehearsing and pretend I can wing it.”

The thing is, you can’t “wing it”. Saying you can wing a presentation makes you about as sensible as those people who claim they’re better drivers after a couple of pints of beer!

Simon Raybould

Simon Raybould

Mistake #3: Burying your head in the sand

Don’t bury your head in the sand! You can’t prepare for something by pretending it’s not going to happen, or saying that you just don’t have the time.

To help overcome this, make sure you pencil time into your diary for research, writing, preparation and rehearsal, as well as the presentation itself!

With thanks to Simon Raybould at Aware Plus

Mistake #4: Choosing a topic that is irrelevant to your audience

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in the lead-up to any presentation is choosing a topic and content that is completely irrelevant to your audience.

Mistake #5: Writing out your whole speech as a “script”

In the lead-up to your presentation it can be tempting to write out your whole speech as a “script”.

Don’t do it. It is better – and far more authentic – to create an outline and a few bullet points to use as prompts on the day.

Mistake #6: Copying out the script onto your slides

It can also be tempting to copy your “script” onto your slides, so that you can read out every word, safe in the knowledge that nothing will go awry.

While this will save you the task of memorising your presentation, your audience may fall asleep!

Mistake #7: Filling your speech with obscure technical phrases

You may think that filling your speech with as much jargon, obscure technical phrases and abbreviations as you can will show your audience how just how smart you really are.

However, the truth is that doing so can prevent your audience from understanding the core message of your presentation – and make the experience pointless for everyone involved.

Mistake #8: Staying up late the night before

It almost goes without saying, but getting drunk and staying up late partying the night before your big presentation is a definite no-no.

Even with all the coffee and fried breakfast in the world, it will still be obvious to your audience that you have a hangover. That is, if you turn up…

Mistake #9: Recalling past failures in vivid detail

Giving yourself plenty of time to recall ALL of your past presentation failures – in vivid detail – will not instil the confidence you will need to deliver a great presentation.

Neither will imagining everything that could go wrong with your upcoming presentation!

Gavin Meikle

Gavin Meikle

Mistake #10: Practising your speech in a monotonous voice

There is no benefit to be gained in practising your speech in the most monotonous and flat voice you can.

Start as you mean to go on and practise delivering your speech in a natural, yet interesting, way.

Roles models to avoid include hypnotherapists and rail announcers!

With thanks to Gavin Meikle – The Presentation Doctor

Click here for Part 2 – ’11 More Things to Avoid Before a Presentation’.

What do you think are the biggest mistakes to avoid when preparing for a presentation?

Let us know in the box below.


Published On: 15th Oct 2014

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  1. Thanks for the newsletter. Interesting topics as I am a Toast Master I am looking forward to tips on a regular basis.

    Stephanie 16 Oct at 5:59 am
  2. No eye contact with the audience, only staring at the Laptop screen, or display screen without occasionally looking the audience instills a sense of disconnection from the audience.

    Joe Santiago 13 Nov at 6:32 pm