11 More Things to Avoid Before a Presentation

In the second 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: Eating too much

It is important that you don’t eat too much. Your food might not sit well with you, causing you to belch or worse.

It could also leave a bad taste in your mouth or things between your teeth.

Mistake #2: Drinking too much

It is equally important that you don’t drink too much. Lots of liquid right before a presentation could ruin your flow.

If you do feel a need to wet your whistle, try a small amount of room-temperature water. Iced liquids will chill your vocal cords, warm liquids could make you sweat – and alcohol might make you loopy.

Mistake #3: Rehearsing (You should already know your material well enough!)

If you feel you have to rehearse right before you presentation, then you probably don’t know your material well enough.

Spend time focusing on the people in the room, not your own material.

Mistake #4: Wearing new shoes

It is a classic mistake to wear new shoes for your big moment, as presenting while breaking them in will change your focus.

You’ll think about the pain of your toes instead of connecting with your audience. It is far better for you to wear your well-polished and comfortable old shoes.

Mistake #5: Last-minute improvisation

Unless your skill is improvisation, don’t try it. It is far too risky to throw in a last-minute idea to see how it works.

Clint Eastwood improvised with a chair at a political rally. It didn’t go well. If Clint can’t do it, you shouldn’t try it.

Mistake #6: Leaving the room

It is especially important that you don’t leave the room in the hour or so before your presentation begins, as sometimes the agenda changes and you are introduced early.

Stay in the room to make sure that when you are called to speak you are in the room. I’ve seen speakers called from the restroom to the platform.

Hmmm… Perhaps they drank too much before presenting.

Mistake #7: Forgetting who the presentation is for

Probably the biggest mistake people can make in the early stages of planning a presentation is forgetting who the presentation is for.

It’s really tempting to structure a presentation that helps the presenter and includes the type of information that they like to see and share.

Great presentations are planned and created for the benefit of audiences, not presenters.

Mistake #8: Not knowing your stuff

The old adage that ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ also rings true.

Time taken getting to know your presentation is time well spent. Not everyone is comfortable doing a formal practice but your audience will appreciate that you know your stuff.

Mistake #9: Leaving in slides that will make you say “we’ll skip this bit”

If you’re using an old presentation and there is a slide or section that has ever made you say “we’ll skip this bit”, it’s clearly not really interesting, relevant or appropriate.

Get rid of it before you present again.

Mistake #10: Failing to check the technology works

While this is stating the obvious, you should always remember to check and charge your technology.

Most audiences are very forgiving when it comes to tech gremlins, but any hiccup is likely to leave you flustered and that can make for a hurried or flawed presentation.

Mistake #11: Losing sight of the bigger picture

It is important that you never lose sight of the bigger picture – namely your “Must-Intend-Like” goals – in the lead-up to a presentation:

  • What MUST your presentation achieve at a basic level (for example, a second meeting)?
  • What do you INTEND it to achieve (for example, the placement of an order)?
  • The outcome you would LIKE to see in a perfect, ‘deal of the month’ scenario.

Click here to read Part 1 – ’10 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: 17th Nov 2014

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1 Comment
  1. Telling inappropriate jokes. Speakers are asked to “lighten things up” and are tempted by jokes that are sexually provocative, political, or just plain offensive due to sexism, racism, ageism. Suddenly, the audience doesn’t trust you, and shuts down to you.

    Joanne McDowall 24 Nov at 2:21 pm