Common Mistakes Business Presenters Make

Whilst sharing details of my newly launched online presentation courses website with my good friend David Bone David suggested that somewhere on the website I should talk about the common mistakes business presenters make. That inspired this article which I’ve called Common Mistakes Business Presenters Make as well as this week’s Better Presentations More Sales podcast episode.

So on the train on the way back I sketched out what I thought those common mistakes business presenters make are and then narrowed them down to 8 and here they are:

  1. Focus on your audience not you – so many business presenters, particularly at the beginning of their presentation want to talk about themselves rather than what the audience are going to gain from the presentation – that makes it hard to engage your audience when you are not talking about them.

2. Too many words on slides – who hasn’t suffered from Death by PowerPoint? – and it’s a simple solution – get rid of the words on your slides. Think about it. You put lots of words on a slide what happens? – The audience aren’t sure whether they should read them or listen to you and there is a danger that you read them on behalf of the audience. The only reason for putting words on a slide in a live presentation is so that your audience will read them. So try starting with one word on a slide and add to it if you really need to.

3. Not setting the tone and style from the get go – this is to do with the first minute of your presentation when your audience are judging whether you are going to be worth paying full attention to, and many presenters waste that opportunity by rambling, stumbling, apologising etc.. instead of starting with a dynamic stat or compelling statement or powerful image.

4. Not enough preparation and practice – and don’t use lack of time as an excuse – when people tell me they haven’t had time to prepare or practice I assume that the presentation is of no value to them and I question why they are ultimately doing it in the first place. Your audience can spot quite easily when you haven’t invested in the time to prepare and practice and don’t forget they’ve invested their time to come along to your presentation.

5. Mismanaging the Q&A – a poor Q&A at the end of your presentation can really be quite damaging in terms of the momentum loss that it creates. Try introducing the Q&A before your final summing up and make sure that you don’t spend very long answering the first question.

6. Overrunning on time – this is very common amongst people who don’t present on a regular basis – and it’s bad news for your audience, for the organisers and for the person presenting next. So try this. In practice make sure your presentation takes no more than 80 or 85% of your allocated time. Doing that will help you run on time.

7. Underestimating the power of your voice – whether you present in person or virtually your voice is a very powerful audience engagement tool, so use it and practice using it. You can change the tempo via your voice, emphasise key words or statements, set the tone and use the power of the pause.

8. Not learning to deliver virtually – clearly since the covid pandemic lots of business presentations have switched on in person to virtual. two or three years ago you could get away with being a not very good virtual presenter because frankly that was the norm. Not any more. Expectation now is that you present virtually very efficiently and very competently. So learn how to do it well and practice doing it.

There we are – eight common Common Mistakes Business Presenters Make. Recognise any of them?

The challenge is simple. Next time you present make sure none of the above are happening.

If you want to learn how to be a better, more confident, more successful presenter in your own time at your own pace check out my online presentation courses website 

If you prefer direct help with your presentations, either a key presentation or maybe some general presentation coaching or training then message me via LinkedIn

Or book a 15 minute no fee Zoom call with me or visit