Instructor Development: Five Ways to Give a Better Presentation
By Bob Lipp (copied with permission)
In business, ineffective presentations can result in customers who don't get the point, investors who aren't
impressed, and employees who retain little of what you've said—all of which negatively impacts on
productivity and revenue.
Here are five pitfalls to avoid when speaking. Any one of them can result in a forgettable presentation.
1. Confusing Core Statements
This is a typical problem with a presenter who wants to cover a lot of ground on many different subjects.
Remember, a good presentation should have one core statement (message). To arrive at the statement,
presenters should ask themselves what the overall goal of their presentation is and then identify the one
central message they must communicate to the audience. Finally, they need to identify the core
statement early in the presentation, either by stating it outright or introducing it as part of a story, an
anecdote, or other device that will make the theme accessible for the largest percentage of the audience.
2. Rambling on with Key Points
A good presentation should have no more than three main points to support the core statement. After
each point is made, presenters should use supporting information to reinforce the point and then end it by
restating the core message. Rambling on with point after point makes it that much harder for the audience
to focus on the important points.
3. Assuming the Audience is Captive
Back in school, you had to sit and listen to your teachers, no matter how much they bored you. But that
was then. Today, even when presenting to fellow employees, you need to entertain and involve them in
your presentation. One of the ways to do this is to interact or dialogue with your audience. Don't wait to
see if they have any questions after you're finished speaking, but ask questions of them during the
speech. This involvement technique perks up their ears since they may be called on at any time. You only
have to do it once to gain their attention, but remember to gain their interest as well.
4. Talking in Monotone
We live in a multimedia world with a variety of sounds that can be produced electronically. Monotonous
voices challenge the audience to listen and all that effort typically results in their falling asleep. With a
monotone, they take away little from your presentation, even if the topic is of interest and the content is
well organized. Presenters can avoid a monotone by raising their voice to make an important point, and
by varying speed to emphasize one or more areas of the presentation.
5. Getting Lost in the Slides
PowerPoint and Flash presentations have great value. However, unless they are the star of the
presentation (which is sometimes okay) and the presenter is playing a supporting role as a reader, make
sure they fit the presenter's speaking style. PowerPoint and Flash presentations used to support a
message should be appropriate for the occasion and not compete with the presenter. Visual tools are
essential to almost every presentation, but they should not be the focus of the effort, unless that is the