Giving a speech isn’t as difficult as it’s made out to be, as long as you keep a few basic principles in mind. Know what you want to accomplish. Understand the audience’s needs and motivations. Organize your material simply and clearly.

But it is easy to make mistakes when you’re giving a presentation. Here’s my list of seven presentation mistakes to avoid…

1. Boring Your Audience

Bore your audience and they’ll tune you out. Then nothing you say, no matter how important you think it is, will make any difference. If what you’re saying doesn’t excite you, don’t say it. Take a different approach, coming at your topic from a different angle. Be a contrarian and refuse to say what everyone else is saying.

2. Lacking a Clear Focus

Talk about too many things, even if they’re related in your mind, and you’ll confuse your audience. Even when people look like they’re paying attention, they’re only half listening. So keep it simple. Focus on one core idea.

3. Not Addressing the Audience’s Concerns

Show your audience in the beginning of your presentation how it affects them. Don’t tell them they should care. Show them how your idea will help them solve a problem, achieve a goal, or satisfy a need that’s important to them.

4. Talking Too Long

People are stressed out, overworked, and impatient. Be brief. Even if you’re delivering day-long program, treat it as a series of briefer presentations. Never exceed the time you’ve been given to speak. Finish before your time is up and your audience will love you.

5. Using PowerPoint Poorly or When It’s Not Called For

Even when used well, PowerPoint can’t compete with the visual sophistication audiences have come to expect from TV and the movies. So limit the number of slides you use. Keep yourself up front and personal. Make your presentation as interactive as possible. See When Not to Use PowerPoint.

6. Presenting Too Much Information

People are already overwhelmed with information. Give them only as much information as they absolutely need to know. Then help them understand what it means. People generally don’t need more facts and data. They need to be able to act in a way that will help them get what they want

7. Avoiding Questions

If your audience doesn’t ask questions, it may not be because you’ve explained everything so clearly. It may be because they’re disengaged. Think of Q&A as a major element of your presentation. Don’t speak for longer than 15 minutes without engaging people’s questions. And for every 12 to 15 minutes that you talk, allow for 4 to 5 minutes of Q&A. See How to Handle Questions.

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For information about how Chris Witt can help you become a more powerful speaker, contact us.